Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Microfiction by Sue Whytock

Here at Wivenhoe Writers we have been writing micro fiction during lockdown. Before joining the group, I had never written anything shorter than 1,000 words. I had never considered writing micro-fiction, had always seen myself as a short story writer and memoirist. Now, though, I am converted.

My conversion to the micro or fast fiction form came via The Scottish Book Trust and a monthly competition they run called ‘50 Word Fiction’. The competition is free to enter and has four categories to submit to: Adults, Gaelic, Young Writers aged 12 – 18 and Young Writers aged 5 – 11. Every month there is a theme and the theme must feature in your story of no more than 50 words. I have entered many times, with themes as diverse as Wildflowers, A Mountain Walk, Sewing and Hello, From the Future. These prompts are fantastic writing exercises in themselves and they have changed my attitude towards fast fiction. I have now written for competitions where the word limits range from 100 to 360 to 500 and 1000 words.

These micro fiction pieces have value in themselves but can also be extended and incorporated into ideas for a longer piece of fiction. Various members of Wivenhoe Writers have entered the competition; Helen Chambers has been successful and won it and I have just won the latest competition – the theme was exercise and each of submitted a story as a writing group…exercise.

What is striking is the variety of responses to the same theme and we have shared our work in the group and made suggestions for edits and improvements to one another, so it has really been a collaborative creative process. If you are feeling ‘blocked’ or if a more substantial piece of work feels overwhelming at the moment, I can recommend diving into micro-fiction and The Scottish Book Trust is a great place to start.

The current theme is ‘seal’ and the deadline is March 30th. Find my winning entry here on the Scottish Book Trust website.

Examples from Wivenhoe Writers on the theme Exercise are below:


Kenneth worshipped physical fitness. He prostrated himself on its altar daily via exercise bike and abs-cruncher, and spent squillions on a personal trainer, but still the flab remained around his middle. A mystery.

Passing the baker’s window he considered which delicious pie he would take home and enjoy tonight.


Sprint on the spot; squat, lunge, stretch, repeat.

Sprint after dustcart with bin bags.

Lunge, struggle with children’s maths, stretch for answers. Feed squabbling children, burpees after lunch.

Sit up for video call.

Squat to clean kitchen floor.

Plunge arms in washing up.

Plank onto the sofa, stretch.

Repeat tomorrow.


Priya recalls her instructor’s voice. ‘Bring yourself into the room.’ Concentrating on the now, Priya breathes in and blows out, remembers to drop her shoulders and engage. Prone to backache, she adjusts her posture accordingly. ‘Exercise your writing muscles daily,’ the voice repeats. Priya taps the keyboard and types.


She leaned on the pedal and they were off, slowly, a rusty creak with each turn of the wheel. Sluggish tyres crunched and complained on the path as she clutched the age-spotted handlebars.

‘Aye you and me both,’ she murmured, ‘but it’s a fine day for a birl.’

If you would like to learn more about the craft, Helen Chambers runs a micro-fiction course for The Writers’ Company and several of our own Wivenhoe Writers’ have attended the course and found it inspiring and stimulating. Her winning Scottish Book Trust microfiction can be found here on her blog and is entitled: 'A Day at the Seaside'