I have been lying to you …
Not lying; I have been … inconsistent. I’ve used “short story.” I’ve used “short-short.”
So, which is what?
My friend and writing teacher, Carole Glickfeld, once described a short story as, “A character starts in once place, something happens to them, and the character changes. Or not.”
Essential to the shorty story is the ability to convey the entirety of the larger life of the characters and situations without the length the writer has to play with in the novel.
Editors seem to be looking for work under 5,000 words. Something they have never seen before that makes them want to read it all in one sitting and think about the images and language of for days after having read.
One thing everyone agrees on is that not a single word should be in the story that does not need to be there. Which is where the short-short comes in.
In the short-short, also called flash fiction, identical principles apply with word limits ranging from 50-tops to 2000 words-tops. Most of the places I submit to ask for stories under 250, under 500, or under 2000. 2000 is moving away from short-short and into what my writing feels like when I’m up to a short story.