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.


  • Faid

    Adun hir cheek runnen a tear,
    As did hir lif’s end draweth near.
    The Plage! Why such penaunce and sorrowe,
    And eek upon their marriage morrowe?

    [Chaucer]

  • http://www.coderscollective.com SenorPlankton

    [Ok, someone had to ...]

    Captain’s Log, stardate 3145.7
    Counsellor Troi has been looking exceptionally teary today. I wonder what’s wrong, I thought getting married would have made you happy.
    Reminder: Must change Worf’s litter tray.

    [sorry ;-)]

  • Faid

    A final tear dripped down Wash’s dying cheek. Reavers! On ANY gorram day!

    [Firefly]

  • Alex

    The locus of the final element of the functional set T followed a smooth contour extending downwards from the origin, as seen in Figure 6.4. Using Cauchy’s residue theorem, we see that the resultant integral has property C if and only the integral is embedded in the Hilbert space W, where C and W have previously been defined.

  • Alex

    [Math textbook]

  • Max

    [Strip #500]
    “My dad committed suicide! On my birthday! While I was listening to Daft Punk!”

    [Questionable Content]

  • Faid

    A salty tear dripped through the soot and blood, down Captain Flint’s scarred, weather-beaten cheek. There be Ninjas! On our plunderin’ day!

    [Internet Culture Action Drama]

  • Blooms

    Chemo therapy! On my host-body’s wedding day! [cancer fanfic]

  • Kelsey

    A final tear dripped down his cold, hard cheek, his skin sparkling in the sunlight. Teenage angst! On the day he almost drank my blood but didn’t!

    [Twilight]

  • http://nfonseca.blogspot.com/ Nuno Fonseca

    A last blast of plasma came from the Station’s core. Alien invasion! On Human Alliance Day! (Space Opera)

  • The Great Tuna

    I was going to write a David Foster Wallace one, but I realized there was no way in hell to write one sentence in 140 characters, to say nothing of the footnotes.

  • Faid

    Tallied tears tilled her tender, terminally tainted tissue. Tumor! Oh, terrible tale to tell, timidly tarrying till toast time.

    [Postmodern alliterative revivalism]

  • Faid

    [aka jumping the shark]

  • Doug

    “A final tear dripped down her dying cheek, well didn’t really drip, but sort of sauntered down in a way belying the melancholy of the situation. Anyway, it was tragic. And on her wedding day!” [Terry Pratchett]

    ” WEDDING DAY WITH LASERS” [Michael Bay]

  • Faid

    the 1001st tear dripped down her pearl-adorned cheek. Unfinished stories! On every wedding night!

    [Oriental Mythology and Folklore]

  • Mom

    cast on two tear-stitches. Slip one tear and work even until halfway down cheek. On next row, begin work in “cancer”, working alternate rows with “wedding day”.

    (knitting pattern)

  • Kansas

    She seemed to grow pale as a tear fell from her blue eyes, dropping on the tumbled locks of fair hair dressed without powder and tied with a blue riband. Scandal! A misalliance! How provoking! [Regency romance]

  • Kansas

    Final damage dripped under the cheek where she dies. Cancer! Day of our weddings! [Engrish]

  • Vastan

    A final tear slid down her cheek. ‘Ifrits! On our wedding day!’ At this point Shahrazad saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.

    [Arabian Night]

    A last tear emerged and dripped down her cheek and caught the bloodstained dying sunlight. What happened here sir.
    Cancer. On our wedding day.

    [Cormac McCarthy]

    Tear! Descent! Cheek! Death! Cancer! Wedding! Day!

    [Nouns!]

    The flashes of wit and insight are so rare that one brought a final tear to my eye. An Exercises in Style knockoff! On my wedding day!

    [Recursive Negative Review]

  • Nero

    At last, the final dewy tear slid down Cosette’s delicate face and she ceased weeping. Grapeshot wounds! It was December 16, 1832– her wedding day! She stood there, her very soul filled despair, yet at the same time full of a quiet sense of triumph, knowing that she would soon join God, and those she had loved would live on keeping her with them. It was in much the same way that Napoleon faced his defeat, his fatal mistake. . .
    [Les Misérables]
    (Far too long for Twitter, but there’s Hugo for you.)

  • Grant

    A tear, why am I crying, so many people go through this and I bet on their wedding days too. But I will never be a wife, and that may be the saddest thing I’ve ever (that nurse has terrible makeup) heard of and it’s happening to me what could be worse? I was going to get married, I was going to be married (like the nurse may never be either) and my whole self hurts right now even though there’s morphine I wonder how morphine works there’s all these needles in me how terrible–
    [stream of consciousness / Faulkner]

  • Dan

    While the premise seems compelling at first, the cheesy, melodramatic tear scene, stifly delivered “Cancer!” line, and altogether predictable attempt at tragic irony earns this story two thumbs way down. (a critic’s bad review)

  • Faid

    A tear dripped down her pale cheek and onto her hospital sheets. Obscure medical condition, one that only her old lover that she never got over from can operate! On her wedding day!

    [Old medical drama]

    She let the last drop of the 8000IU of heparin drip into her pale patient’s IV, as she set the supply of oxygen to 50%. Two cases of pulmonary embolism, and an unstable comatose! On the day of her first date with the hot anesthesiologist she’s had a crush on for two seasons!

    ['Modern' medical drama]

  • Butterfish

    That’s not my bride – her cheeks are too dry
    That’s not my bride – her neoplasm is too benign
    That’s my bride – her cancer has ruined our wedding day

    ['Thats not my...' books]

    Mick: She cried.
    [pause]
    Aston: You would.
    [water drips into a bucket]
    Mick: It was cancer.
    Aston: Mmm?
    [pause]
    Mick: We were getting married.
    [another drip]
    [longer pause]
    Aston: Shame.
    [pause]
    Davies: I’m so tired.

    [Pinter]

  • Ralf

    A final tear slid down his cheek
    One eye taken, hung from the tree
    Into the void, the runes he sought
    On his day of enlightenment

    (Norse Edda)

  • Pam

    4. What is the significance of the tear that runs down her cheek on her wedding day? Is the cancer diagnosis real or merely symbolic?
    (Book club reading guide)

  • Blooms

    Cancer! And AIDS! And swine flue! Polonium 210! On the second time she was trying to get married after marvellously having survived the first!
    [sequels]

  • Chris

    Junkie Bob bawled. The Pachuco’s Outta dope! On Friday night! (James Ellroy)

    Please excuse my crying to assist me. My wife, former Minister of Finance, she has recently died with cancer, just beyond our marriage, and left amount of 2.75 mil. Euros in account to be transferred in your name. (Nigerian Scam)

  • Blooms

    Marriage, like syphilis, is generally a lot more fun to acquire than to actually live with, and just like syphilis, it is a life-long social embarrassment the affliction of which one does best not to admit to in mixed company. Should the latter liberate one from the former, however, a single tear of relief is often an apt response.
    [Oscar Wilde]

  • Chris

    A crystal tear of exquisite craftmanship adorns her adorable porcelain cheeks. Inside her dainty chest is a tumor of the finest imported mahogany. Delight in her wedding every day for years to come! Only eight easy payments of $15.99. (ad copy for awful figurine)

  • Chris

    “What ho? I say! Is she crying, Jeeves?”
    “Yes, sir. Likely it’s the cancer, sir.”
    “And on her wedding day, too! What rotten luck!”
    “Indeed, sir.”
    (P.G. Wodehouse)

  • Chris

    Tears upon ‘er wedding day, because she’s got the cancer,
    But when the lads sailed into town, they’d all line up to lance ‘er!
    Hi-ho, away boys, hi-ho away!
    (dirty sea chanty)

  • April

    Three panel page, two above, one beneath occupying two-thirds of the page.
    First panel: Closeup of Lois’ cheek, a single tear leaves a track as it rolls down. “Sniff.”
    Second Panel: Medium view of the scene in the church, the pastor, the bride and a few attendants. There is a marked empty space and motion lines where the groom should be. Lois, “Sniff.”
    Third Panel: Full frame of Lois stomping up the aisle in disgust and anger. Muttering to self “Brainiac!?! On our wedding day!”
    [Comic]

  • Karl

    As she removed the head of the bear costume a single tear fell down her cheek. The midget turned cartwheels on the lawn, yelling over the din of the motorcycle “Cancer! On your wedding day!”
    [John Irving]

  • Tim

    Nano-fiction:

    Coughin’. Coffin.

    Not original with me, but, the shortest?

  • Steven

    A final tear dripped down her cheek. Voldermort killed her boyfriend! At the Tri Wizard Cup!
    J.K. Rowling

  • peter

    A final tear dripped down her inflamed cheek. an obscure social faux pas ! On her wedding day to Mr Darcy! What will people think!

    [austen]

  • Tamary

    Dry those tears, because YOU have just won our dream wedding package! All expenses paid, including a week at the cancer research clinic!
    [game show script]

  • Tamary

    10:00 Appt with oncologist
    12:00 Wash face, touch up makeup
    1:00 Wedding ???

    [day planner]

  • Tamary

    I am appalled by your lack of taste in running such a story! On my wedding day! If this continues I will cancel my subscription immediately!
    [letter to the editor]

  • obscurantist

    A mango-pickle-flavoured tear dripped down her cheek, the fury in her eyes reflected in the yellow glare of the burning chutney factory. “How could you? With your beloved sister-ji! And on her wedding day!” [Salman Rushdie]

  • Ransom

    Embiggen your wedding day!

    Canadian Pharmaceutical great deals on medicaments for cancer, tamoxifen, acai berry. Generic C_1_4_L_1_S Click here to unsubscribe!
    [spam]

  • http://bonni.net/ bonni

    Water turned into wine? And on their wedding day! A miracle! [New Testament parable]

  • http://bonni.net/ bonni

    A tear fell from her eye and plopped into the pond. Enlightenment! And on her wedding day! [Zen-style koan]

  • Gentleman Hal

    “A lanif raet deppird nwod reh gniyd keehc. Red Room! On our wedding day!” [David Lynch]

  • Baz

    After start of marriage, a lone tear by Ma. Cancer – from a sunny day? (8) (crossword clue)

  • JDog

    A tear shot from her cock and knocked out a horse from a distance of 15 metres on her wedding day [transvestite sex championship tournament]

  • Duke

    And She Did Cry! For SHE had discovered SHE had the Devil’s own Disease! Yes, I’m talking about Cancer! And it was On her Wedding Day! And What did SHE do? She got down on her knees, and Prayed! She prayed for Healing! She prayed for Grace! And above all, She Prayed for Forgiveness from Our Almighty Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! And although she died, we should all hear of her courages example, To NEVER lose heart! That God Is Greater than ALL things!
    *Choir Bursts into song*
    He is Greater!

    [Christian Sermon]

  • JDog

    My freedom lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to get married [Blade Runner]

  • Hobbes

    “While reports of a ‘final tear’ are yet to be substantiated, sources say the cancer diagnosis came on her wedding day”
    [News Report]

    Final Tears! Could they Cause Cancer? And is Nu Labour stealing Taxpayers’ Wedding Days for Immigrants!?
    [The Daily Mail]

    Given Rawls’ conception of ‘final tears’, his argument for the application of a Kantian principles fails to recognise the dislocation that cancer imputes to non-political social contracts, such as wedding days.
    [Political philosophy]