My first fiction assignment of the semester came from my least favorite professor, so this might have colored my initial impression of the so-called “micronovel.” A micronovel, he said, should be a short story comprised of several scenes short enough to text someone (although, I think he was flying fast and loose with ‘short enough to text,’ because we were not limited to 140 characters). As he says for all of his assignments, it shouldn’t be too symbolic or melodramatic, but deeply complicated and also witty. He added that, though the example he showed us only took place in the span of about a minute (it was about a motorcycle crash), we shouldn’t limit ourselves to such small timespans. Let it go for months. Years! LIFETIMES!
When I actually wrote the assignment, I planned to have it go on a for a few months, but my final product ended up spanning exactly 30 days. It didn’t so much have a plot as an emotional arc, but it was also only 9 pages and less than 2k words. Since I’m not planning to write much about short stories (although, I can, if there’s an interest), I won’t go into the details of my thought process and the craft things I read that inspired me, but I do want to talk about how the micronovel may have made my life a lot easier.
Once upon a time, I had an excellent writing regimen. I would write a couple thousand words a day, maybe even three or four thousand on a good day, and if I did end up having days where I couldn’t write, I would be able to pick back up at the next opportunity. Then some shit happened involving me getting several jobs, and my writing time dwindled, and my prolificness abated. The worst part about this was that the ideas just sort of stopped coming. Most of my life, I’d be thinking of stories all the time, and then be able to write with minimal planning. Now, I have trouble even coming up with ideas, much less writing them completely. Planning has become my ultimate struggle.
Enter the subject of this post: The Micronovel.
While I still think it’s a dumb title to give to a short story (arguably, all short stories that have more than one scene could be called a micronovel), I’ve decided that it’s an awesome way to plan a full length novel (or Macronovel, if you will). It gives you a way to outline that has more emotion, more feeling to it than your average ABCD structure. I’ve started working on a Micronovel for some ghost stories I’d been floundering around with, and I am pretty excited to get myself to the end.
The idea of doing it is this: each chapter is condensed to a paragraph or two that is still a complete scene in the micronovel. My initial reaction to this when I was considering it was that “if I can condense all the things into one paragraph, why the fuck would I write a macronovel about it?” But, your job as a writer of macronovels would still remain. This is only the bare bones. Your job, in the macronovel, would be to complicate those scenarios, to give them the real emotional feel that a reader looks for in a novel. Also, you know, if you’re writing about something like magic, or ghosts, or psychic detectives, you probably need to do a fair amount of world building. And there’s the cast of characters needed for a novel vs. a short story.
So for anyone who suffers when trying to write endings, or who knows the beginning and the end but can’t work out the middle, try the micronovel. Or for anyone who’s just tryna shake up their writing routine. And let me know how it goes in the comments!