n. A very short literary work, typically no more than a few hundred words.
Also Seen As
But do not confuse Lee's columns on topical issues with her "micro-fiction" — a collection of very short stories, some only a few hundred words, written in the dreamy, breathless quality of … confessional pulp fiction from the 1950s.
—Paul Gessell, The Ottawa Citizen, January 29, 2004
From Carolyn Kremers' nonfiction workshop, where I found out that Annie Dillard had made up (made up!) the beginning of "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," to Frank Soos' remarks on how to find closure in a short story to Nancy Lord's workshop on miniatures and microfiction, I furiously took notes until I became so restless I had to escape to the bathroom to jot flash fiction on toilet paper.
—Cinthia Ritchie, “Conference a thrilling chance for writers to listen and learn,” Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), July 06, 2003
1996 (earliest)
The Winnipeg literary quarterly Prairie Fire is holding three writing contests: the short fiction deadline is June 30, poetry must be in by Sept. 30, and the 500-word micro-fiction category closes Nov. 30.
—Linda Rosborou, “Smart material in chaotic form,” Winnipeg Free Press, May 11, 1996
The literary category of the extremely short prose piece — an apparent natural in this age of hurry sickness and the just-in-time lifestyle — is a genre desperately searching for a moniker that will stick. Besides micro-fiction, other labels that have been tried on are sudden fiction (1986), flash fiction (1987), instant fiction (1995), and short short (1986). Pieces with the rhythm and cadence of poetry might be called prose poems (1842), instead. In his introduction to the book Great American Prose Poems, editor David Lehmann sums up this nomenclatural confusion in the title of a lecture: "Prose poem, short short, or couldn't finish?"

Gareth Branwyn passed along the following note after I first posted this term:
I started a micro-fiction topic on The Well BBS in May 1995. Don't know where I got the word from:

bb.113: Micro-Fiction Corner

bb.113.0: Shane, the chiselled cabin boy (gareth) Wed 17 May 95 10:32

Who has time to read novels anymore…short stories even?!
Micro-fiction—stories of a paragraph or less—is the answer for
today's riot nrrrd stuck on fast-forward.

Let's write some.
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