Whilst reading my way through a huge pile of microfiction submissions for the upcoming edition of Battery Pack, I noticed a few trends in the stories in my inbox. Although I wasn’t able to provide feedback to everyone who sent in work, I thought it might be useful to compile a few notes here for readers, writers and other parties who might be generally interested in ultra-short fiction as a form.
Firstly, it seems that microfiction is particularly well-suited to horror. A huge proportion of the stories I received could have sat quite comfortably in this genre. When words are limited, horror works well, as it doesn’t necessarily demand that stories be neatly wrapped up at the end – instead it’s quite possible to leave things hanging, or to set up a scenario and then leave the horrifying implications of it to sink in.
Although these stories were entertaining to read and usually very sharply-written, they got a little samey after a while. Stories that found horror in unusual places, or mixed in a little of other genres really stood out.
I also read a large number of “twist in the end” stories. Typically these were comprised of a description that initially seemed to be about one thing, but ultimately was revealed to be about something else. Although this device worked well with the limited wordcount, I always found myself wanting something more. Similarly, there were a number of science-fiction stories that focussed on the revelation or use of some new technology. These were fascinating to read, but ultimately lacked consequence. I found myself wondering what was to happen next; how might this new technology be used, and what conflicts might it cause?
Finally, there were also a fair few stories which – while excellently-written – didn’t quite feel complete. Some managed to conjure up some beautiful images, or paint an intriguing scene, but left me puzzled as to what was actually happening, or what the point of the story really was. Stories which had a distinct beginning, middle and end were the most satisfying to read. Fitting a full narrative arc into just seventy-five words is, of course, not an easy task – and so I was deeply impressed by the variety of creative ways in which writers managed to do so.
I’m very excited to have finally selected the six stories that will go into Battery Pack II. A lot of thought and effort went into the reading process, and I hope it shows in the final selection. Don’t forget: if you want to be one of the first to get your hands on a physical copy, you can pre-order a set of Battery Pack II print copies here for just the cost of postage.