Friday, May 28, 2010

Very Short Stories

The #VSS Anthogy Volume 01 is the brainchild of Made in DNA, aka @idiotandroid. It's a collection of tweet-sized fiction from a variety of eAuthors, including Nick Name, Small Stories, Miko Dragonfly, and some cat named Moxie. VSS stands for very short story, and at their best, that's exactly what these pieces are. They have all the same elements you'd expect to find in a traditional short, like conflict, plot, engaging characters, atmosphere, themes; they just accomplish it really quickly.

Of course, as with any anthology, you're getting a mixed bag. Sure, some might be asinine, some pretentious, and yes, some seem kinda pointless... but many are genuinely funny and able to pack a staggering amount of pathos, genuine human emotion, and acute observation into such restrictive confines. And the catch is, I'd be willing to bet that every reader will have differing ideas of which stories fit each of those descriptions.

More than anything else, these pieces demonstrate that obstruction can spur creativity. Every writer has experienced the horror of the blank page - staring at that big empty canvas with no restrictions, no limitations. You could write about anything, and paradoxically, you can't come up with a fucking thing to say. But if someone comes along and asks for a story about a specific subject, or in a specific genre, or with a specific theme, and suddenly the ideas start hemorrhaging out.

In this case, there's something liberating about being forced to stay under 140 characters. There's a built-in focus, you don't have to be all things to all people, you just have to make them smile, make them empathize, make them think, even if for only the briefest moment in time.

For my own part, I have mixed feelings about the handful of stories I contributed. I'm not usually a VSS/twitfic/microfiction author, since I tend to be way too wordy (see also: this blog). But I decided to submit just to experiment with the form, to see what it's like to work with such limited space. In the end, they seem to sit comfortably alongside the other works, and I'm starting to feel just the slightest temptation to dip my toe back into the VSS water.

Download #VSS Anthology Volume 01 for free at Smashwords.

Cover designed by Nick Name.


Piotr Kowalczyk said...

Moxie, thanks for writing this review!

The beauty of Twitter fiction comes from a simple fact, that the horror of the blank page is very little - as the blank page is only 140-character short.
I guess we are all learning how to put more story, more plot, more emotions and more slice of life into the #vss. And I'm sure the next volumes will be better and better.

Let's keep writing it!

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