Microfiction: Home

Happy 4th of July to my US readers (and condolences to my British readers).

I recently shared a microfiction story I wrote that was rejected by 101fiction.com, and now I’d like to share one that was accepted (with revisions).

In case you’re not familiar with 101 fiction: a 100 word story with a one word title is required. This particular issue also required that the word “red” appear in the story. Here is the original version I submitted to the site:

Home

Welcome to Last Ditch Station. That display? Stupid thing has said “ALL CONDITIONS : RED” since I got here. The smell? Cooking and body odors of seven different species. Food court is down that hall – you’ll have to eat standing up, no room for tables and chairs. Watch your step, sweeper bot broke down last month. OK, here we are at your sleeping cubicle. Was built for two, but you’ll share it with five. Final advice: everyone here loves to spread rumors – don’t listen, especially when they say the Reptilons are laying eggs. Reptilons rarely lay eggs. Very rarely. Almost never.

The editor at 101 fiction felt that the ending was weak, and made some modifications. Here is a link to the modified version published at 101 fiction.

Let me know which version you prefer by voting in my poll, and if you’d like, leave a comment letting me know why you prefer that version. I appreciate the feedback.

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17 comments

  1. Both endings were good, I preferred the original a bit better though. Perhaps combining both endings into one would be better, assuming you had enough room before the word limit of course.

    1. Perhaps I could have left in the human-eating hatchlings, but then said that on the bright side, it’s going to be a lot less crowded here….

  2. I think the original’s stronger. The egg-laying is a less obviously traumatic event, which makes it more interesting as one.

    1. I had a specific interpretation in mind when I wrote it, but after reading your comment, it’s kind of fun to imagine a guy going “What? Reptilon eggs? Wait, come back!”

  3. I think the original was better, but my take is that the “very rarely” didn’t work…

    1. Thanks for your feedback. I’ll probably post a couple more microfictions over the next few weeks, I hope you’ll check them out.

  4. I preferred your original, because it was a case of “protesting too much” that left you intrigued about why this was going to be a problem. The revised one made everything too obvious…I like my micro fiction to have a bit of mystery. Well done!

    1. Thanks, Sue. I think there’s a divide among readers between those who like a mysterious ending, and those who want to know the author’s exact vision. I read a film review blogger who said endings with two possible interpretations are good, but wide-open endings like mine are bad. I don’t know if he was correct; my opinion is that the shorter the fiction, the more the open-to-interpretation ending works.

  5. That revision threw subtlety out the window. Sorry it got mucked with 😦

    1. Thanks. Since it’s just a 100 word story, it’s no problem, but I can just imagine an author spending a year of his life writing a novel, and then being told to change the ending…

  6. A lovely premise. Personally, I’d like best a toned-down version of the modified one. The original one was too subtle for me (why does it matter if they lay eggs? Perhaps the hatchlings are cute as pie). The modified one was too much in-your-face.

    1. I actually had a specific meaning in mind when I wrote this, but very few readers jumped to that conclusion, so I obviously didn’t communicate it well. My idea was that Reptilons were one of the races populating the station, and they laid a lot of eggs at once, so overcrowding was about to get much worse. I first scribbled this idea down when I was living in a crowded Asian city and commuting on sardine-can trains, so at the time, it seemed obvious to me that crowds were THE problem.

      1. Lol – it makes perfect sense now 🙂

  7. I think both ending are good, but I prefer the original. With the edition version, it tell you tells you what the eggs do – which is nice – but it felt a little too direct. I liked the original more because the of the suspense it provided: What at the Reptilians? What about their eggs? Why do we have to be worried about them? I like the story better left with that mystery left at the end.

    1. It seems that about 2/3 of readers agree with you, preferring the mysterious ending. I wonder if a mysterious ending to a novel would be as acceptable? I’m guessing not…

  8. Tough call, but for voting purposes, I went with the edited version because (from a former editor’s viewpoint) that one does tie the story up more firmly. There’s always the question of how much/little subtlety is really needed, for editors as well as writers.

    Personally, I would’ve preferred a blending to preserve a bit more suspense. Sleight of hand suggestions that (a) some species might eat others, (b) yep, it’s overcrowded, and (c) the Reptilons lay thousands of eggs. That would’ve clarified distinct concerns. Are the Reptilons dangerous or just phenomenally reproductive? If I sleep in this cubicle, will I wake to thousands of eggs pushing me out of bed or to little Reptilon hatchlings chowing down on my various body parts? Or will I wake to the sight of some other species’ gaping jaws coming at my face? (Or will I wake?)

    IMO, the ending line “Just rumors” is a better one. I can imagine the host laughing a little too forcefully and giving the traveler a too-hearty slap on the back along with the airy assurance.
    No worries, mate. Just rumors.

    Afterthought: either one would make a fine blurb or opening for a longer story, too. The concept is just too fun to leave as microfiction.
    Just sayin’. 😉

    1. Thanks for all the helpful feedback. I hadn’t considered expanding this particular idea.

      In the last few days, I’ve been playing around with the idea of putting together a series of extremely short (maybe 1,500 word) stories into a collection. I’ll have to think about including a longer version of this.

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