Genre microfiction

I was talking with a friend about a Twitter-based fiction contest that he’d seen, and he mentioned that this contest had stipulated genre requirements. So, of course, the conversation turned to how short a story could possibly be and still have some recognizable genre. I postulated that it wouldn’t take much at all:

“A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Cancer! On our wedding day!” [Drama/romance]

“A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Tuberculosis! On our wedding day!” [Period romance]

“A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Nanobots! On our wedding day!” [Sci-fi]

“A final acidic tear dripped down her dying, scaly cheek. Dragon cancer! On our wedding day!” [Fantasy]

“A sultry bead of sweat dripped down her heaving bosom. Lust! On our wedding day!” [Erotica]

“A bloody tear dripped down her already-rotting cheek. Zombies! On our wedding day!” [Horror]

“A final tear dripped down her bullet-riddled cheek. Mobsters! On our court date!” [Crime]

“A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Cancer! On our gay wedding day!” [Gay/lesbian]

“A final tear dripped down her goggles to her sprocket-laden corset. Brass poisoning! On our wedding day!” [Steampunk]

In fact, I bet between all of us we could write microfiction in every conceivable genre. Leave a comment and let’s prove it.

  • Nate

    Lo, a final tear
    Slides down her cheekbones: cancer!
    Wedding frogs languish

    So there was this girl, she was crying;
    From cancer it was, she was dying.
    Oh wedding day woes,
    for she ruined her clothes,
    And I sat on the bed only sighing.

    A woman–crying. Cancer! In, white, too. Look at the–sad–groom.

    A rabbi and a priest walk into a bar. There’s a new bride there, and she’s crying. The priest walks up to her and says, “Ah, those must be tears of joy!” She responds, “I’m dying of cancer!” The rabbi buys the priest a drink.
    (rabbi-priest joke)

  • minillinim

    “A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Or did it? On our wedding day! If it really WAS our wedding day!”

    [Conspiracy theories]

  • will

    the internets is full of win

  • Joel

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Finally! Time for our wedding night.

    [Necrophilic erotica]

  • Joel

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Tentacles! On our wedding day!

    [japanese erotica OR Lovecraftian horror]

  • Denita TwoDragons

    A Level 20 Epic Final Tear Of Mourning dripped down her dying cheek, splashing onto her +5 Holy Avenger. Horrid Wilting! On her Royal Elven Wedding Day! Someone get a Level 10 Cleric and a 10,000 GP diamond, quickly!


  • maxolasersquad

    SQL Query:
    SELECT MAX(tear)
    FROM cheek
    WHERE wedding_day = TRUE;

  • Joe D

    Renowned cancer surgeon Charles Quackenbush read the message on his pager and called for his jacket. A final tear staggered across the recently married woman’s thundering face. Working. On our wedding day!

    [Dan Brown]

  • Grub

    “A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Raptors! On our wedding day!”(alt-text: But since we already paid for the room and she’s really hot, your sister has agreed to stand in for the honeymoon) [XKCD]

  • Cassi

    “A final tear dripped down his dying cheek. Crucifixion! On Good Friday!” [Biblical/religious]

  • maxolasersquad

    David Icke
    The lack of a tear down her scaly cheek. Shape-shifter! On our wedding day!

  • Bummer

    A final tear dripped down her dusty cheek and onto the arrow in her chest. Injuns! On our weddin’ day! [Western]

  • Senor Plankton

    MSG:12/44-99345.89[wide] o:LastTear x:DustyCheek -> Drip Drip!
    MSG:12/44-99345.90[wide] o:DustyCheek x:LastTear -> What was that? On their wedding day?

    [Iain M Banks (Excession)]

  • Neil

    The happy tear made it’s way through the eyelash forest and over big cheek mountain. Oh, what adventures to be had on the way to see the brave prince’s wedding to the beautiful princess.

  • Katie

    A tear dripped down her cheek. He rejoined the team! On their wedding day! [sports fiction]

    A tear dripped down her cheek. A poop joke! On our wedding day! [wondermark]

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. I found out about her affair with my half brother while I was presumed dead! On our wedding day! [soap opera]

  • Román Gorojovsky Sánchez

    Someone should take a few words from late XIX century’s books, collage them and tag it with a few anachronisms and tag it [Wondermark]

  • Trish Lewis

    An oldie but a goodie (taught to me by my grandfather, born in 1876..): “I see,” said the Blind Man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

  • lotofsnow

    A tear descends the curve of her powdered cheek. Beheading! On Bastille Day! [Revolution-era French Literature]

    She stood stiffly at my desk. I could tell at a glance she was more than a dame with a great pair of legs. The tear on her cheek said it all: Murder. It must be my birthday. [Mid-Twentieth Century Detective/Crime Drama]

    The salt farm forms its final flood-soldier
    A solitary footman winding a silent way.
    Alas, a massacre! In the mead hall of my ancestors. [Anglo-Saxon Literature)

  • walty

    A bittersweet tear dripped down her cheek as she carved another hunk from his hindquarters. Delicious! Such a nourishing first birthday! [Jonathan Swift]

  • James

    A soggy tear dripped down her already heavily made-up cheek. A broken nail! On a Wednesday! Life was SO unfair to her. [really crappy teen novel]

    A final tear dripped down her no-longer dying cheek. A miracle! On Christmas! [christmas-y]

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. A hurricane! On her wedding day! [disaster memoir]

  • James

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Godzilla! On our wedding day!

  • jack

    See Jane cry. Cry Jane, cry! Oh see! See Jane die! Why die, Jane? Why today, Jane? [basal reader]

  • Camel pimp

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Cancer?! Not today motherfucker! (action)

  • fugue137

    Then one last salty tear
    her nose slid rather near
    as it wended its way down her cheek.
    ‘Cos I’d rather be wedded
    and hopefully bedded
    to one whose life wasn’t so bleak.
    But I’d rather be wedded–
    I’d much less regret it–
    to some poor beheaded young miss
    Than the smelly undeaded
    gal standing here fetid
    on th’alter awaiting my kiss.
    [Gilbert and Sullivan and Zombies]

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek, glowing faintly in the soothing light of the monitor . Twitter truncation! On our creativity da

  • Ian

    A single tear ran down her cheek and landed in the cake batter. now mix in the softened butter and baking soda. (cookbook)

  • RumbleStarter

    A single tear ran down her fur-laden cheek. Fleas! On our wedding day! (Furry)

  • DarthNaylor

    A final (laser) slid down her (birdseed). (Tomatoes)! On her (Battle of Bunker Hill) day!

  • Hamlew

    A final combined drop of saline, lysozyme, prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and leucine enkephalin slid down her cheek. Science! On our wedding day!(rom/eroctica for scientists)

  • kang

    A tear ran down her reddened cheek. Farts! On our wedding day! (gross-out comedy)

  • Nicko

    A tear ran down his cheek, and landed in his thick, lush beard. [wondermark]

  • Val Rearden

    uP they forgot as Cancer they grew . . . . . .; ded sed he? wed sed she. (e.e. cummings)

  • Darac

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Cancer! Three weeks before her wedding day! [time travel]

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Exterminated! Three weeks before her wedding day! [Doctor Who]

    A final, glittering diamond of a tear dripped with glacial slowness down my…er… her ivory pale and deathly dying cheek. Uncurable (even by House, Doogie Howser and Hippocrates) Cancer! On her most glorious of wedding days! [Mary Sue]

  • Jacques Brasse

    A woman in tears seen one day
    had said of her by all “well hey,
    The prognosis is bad,
    It’s certainly sad,
    Cancer, on her wedding day!”


  • Mark VH

    A tear of righteous indignation rolled down his furry simian cheek. Filthy humans, a menace, a walking pestilence! [Planet of the Apes]

  • dc

    I saw the best tears of my generation destroyed by
    cancer, starving hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves down the negro cheeks at dawn
    looking for an angry wedding day

  • Blooms

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Cancer? Onmy wedding day? It is more likely than you think. Free PC check. [Pop-up ads]

  • Lokimotive

    Tear. Cheek. Falling off. Gone again. Oh well. Final. Stop. Again. Tear. What’s this? Wretched. Crippled. Moving. Tear. On her wedding day. No. Stop. Start again. Can’t. Oh well. Like that. Tear again. Tear harder. [later Beckett]

  • Thomas

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek. Beat panel! On our wedding day!” [webcomics]

  • gadgetgirlnz

    A final tear dripped down Arwen’s dying cheek. Elrond turned to Aragorn. “See what your selfishness has caused, o mortal man.”

  • Jacques Brasse


  • Harrison Brown

    A drop of occular discharge moves, due to gravity, down her facial cheek. Malignant Neoplasm occurs on our day of Espousal! [Medical/Technical Journal]

  • Faid

    Caught in mid-motion, a last tear forms a moist near-vertical line
    Above it, an eye throws a mesmerised glance on a letter, thrown carelessly
    Near the pile of wedding invitations, and the checked page of the
    Calendar; the writing’s mostly covered by the torn
    Envelope, but the last few lines are clearly (and irrevocably)

  • Faid

    [George Perec]

  • IshMEL

    A final tear dripped down her dying cheek, drowning the Galactic Battle Robot Army sent by Prince Kxthrax to stop the wedding but which, owing to a typographical error at the Galactic Battle Robot Plant, were each the size of an amoeba.

    (Douglas Adams)

  • Faid

    Eye Water Face Touch.
    Button Push Banana Empty.
    Me Mate Playground Sun Sky!

    [ASL Simian Drama]

  • James

    The largest tear ever to roll down a cancer patient’s cheek on their wedding day was 1½ cm², recorded on August 26, 1993 on Mary Leighton of Brookshire, England. [record book]

  • James




    [board book]

  • James King

    “Watson, Did I tell you I recently published a monograph of the correlation between tears and various illnesses? This tear trail is from a bride-to-be who suffered and died from cancer!” “Amazing, Holmes! But how do you know she was to be married?” “Elementary, Watson. Most women do not wear white veils unless they are going to be married that day.” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

  • Shaina

    This is a paltry follow-up to some, but:

    A final tear dripped down Hermione’s cheek. Voldemort! On the day of her graduation from Hogwarts! [Harry Potter]

    A final tear dripped down Laura Roslin’s cheek. Cancer! Later to be eclipsed by a Cylon invasion! [A literary version of the Battlestar pilot, with terrible foreshadowing]

  • epynephrin

    A single tear slid down the dame’s cheek. Cancer! Seriously, cancer. on her wedding day, too. Somehow, I knew there was more to it.
    (Pulp detective fiction)