Friday, October 30, 2009

"Grief" - A 77-Fiction (a form of 'micro-fiction')



Offlate... I have been reading a slew of short stories, variously referred to as: 55-Fiction, 66-Fiction and 77-Fiction. Courtesy: Vipul, Shilpa, Sid - the 'Ravan' kid, Amit, Dmanji, Pawan, Shankar... and other fellow bloggers aka FBs. All veterans in this genre... to be precise.

Finally, yours truly too decided to try her hand at it. Therefore, with butterflies fluttering about incessantly in my tummy... I write my very first 77-Fiction. Afterall, this is my first attempt at a 'micro-fiction'... so butterflies got to flutter... don't they... ?!! *Wink! Wink!*

Now, 55 Fiction is a form of micro-fiction that refers to the works of fiction limited to a maximum of fifty-five words. So, you can decipher the meaning of the other types, 'I presume'... (to borrow the latter part of the famous line uttered by the Welsh journalist Sir Henry Morton Stanley... on finally tracing and meeting the long lost Scottish Missionary and explorer, Dr. David Livingstone)

So, here you go:

They sat silently... staring at the lifeless bodies of their precious babies. Not even the hint of an unshed tear in their eyes. I guess... grief is too numbing.

Finally he got up and walked out of the garden.

She remained there, as if still guarding her dead babies. A mother's love...

An hour later, he came back with traces of blood around his mouth. Yes... he has had his 'revenge'. Their revenge. They could cry now...


Footnote:

Henry Morton Stanley was a young and very ambitious American journalist who had already made himself a name in the newspaper business. He took the task of searching after Livingstone for the New York Herald. Other expeditions were sent out with the same mission - to rescue Livingstone if possible or find evidence of his possible death. He picked up the track of Livingstone at Lake Tanganyika. The two explorers finally met on November 10, 1871 in Ujiji in the present-day Tanzania. As the story goes, Stanley's first words, when approaching the only other white man in this part of Africa, was: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Note: Some info, courtesy: Wikipedia.

Post Script: Intrigued by the micro-fiction genre... I turned to 'Professor' Google. My research 'enlightened' me regarding the existence of the 50-word fiction (aka the 'dribble'... and I thought this term existed only in the arena of football and hockey!), the '69er' (a 69-Fiction), '88er' (an 88-Fiction - possibly), '99er' (a 99-Fiction)... even the 100 word flash fiction aka the 'Drabble'.

A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length, although the term is often incorrectly used to indicate a short story of fewer than 1000 words. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space.

Flash fiction is fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as 300, while others consider stories as long as 1000 words to be flash fiction. Other names for flash fiction include: "sudden fiction", "microfiction", "micro-story", "postcard fiction", "prosetry" and "short short story", though distinctions are sometimes drawn between some of these terms; for example, sometimes 1,000 words is considered the cut-off between "flash fiction" and the slightly longer "sudden fiction".

Richard N. Hill recently coined the phrase "dribble" to describe a story that is only 50 words. Michael Kent of "The Next Big Writer" used "droubble" for a double drabble, a story in exactly 200 words. More information and correct definitions are found at 'Save the Drabble'.

"Drabble" is also sometimes used colloquially to refer to any short piece of literature, usually fan fiction, where brevity is its outstanding feature. Some stories, called "drabbles" by their authors or readers, total as many as 1,000 words in length. However, such a story should be termed by the more accurate description of "flashfic", "shortfic," or "ficlet," in addition to the older "short-short story". The particular language used may greatly affect the ease or difficulty of writing a drabble. For example, the Finnish two-word sentence "Heittäytyisinköhän seikkailuun?" translates English as "What if I should throw myself into an adventure?", a sentence of nine words. This density of meaning makes Finnish a much easier language in which to write a drabble than English.

Similar concepts are flash fiction, microfiction and nanofiction.

Flash fiction has roots going back to Aesop's Fables and practitioners have included such leading lights as, Anton Chekhov, O. Henry, Franz Kafka, H.P.Lovecraft, Arthur C. Clarke and Lydia Davis. A ready market for flash-fiction works is ezines; however, flash fiction is also published by many print magazines. Markets specializing in flash fiction include SmokeLong Quarterly, Flash Fiction Online, and Vestal Review.

One type of flash fiction is the short story with an exact word count. Examples include 55 Fiction, the Drabble and the 69er. Nanofictions are complete stories, with at least one character and a discernible plot, exactly 55 words long. A Drabble is a story of exactly 100 words, excluding titles, and a 69er is a story of exactly 69 words, again excluding the title. The 69er was a regular feature of the Canadian literary magazine NFG, which featured a section of such stories in each issue.

Vignette: Flash fiction differs from a vignette in that the flash-fiction work contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike the case with a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. This principle, taken to the extreme, is illustrated in a possibly apocryphal story about a six-word flash allegedly penned by Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

And much more... and isn't "more the merrier"... ?!! All of which I intend to explore... by and by. For sure!

Photograph:

A lovely pic... 'Life is precious'.

42 comments:

  1. Hi Roshmi,
    My first time here :). Saw your comment in shilpa's blog. Got interested with this micro-fiction.
    Actually this is a good attempt! But can u explain me??

    P.S : Sorry for bugging u!

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  2. Hey welcome 2 the micro-fiction club, lady :)
    A nice start there with this first one. Very aptly used words and expressions.. Keep thm cuming..
    Well, till now, I only knew about 55 fictions.. As for 66er and 77er, I thought I invented them to go with the 66th and 77th posts on my blog aftr having writtn my frst 55er as my 55th post.. Will carry this trend thru 88th and 99th too.. So gud 2 know evn othrs r writing sch improvised stff as per ur research :)

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  3. hey dis is superb Roshmi... wat did he bite??? Eeeu can't imagine it...

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  4. Well researched well presented. Nice Post.

    My primary idea would be to convey a story - whether it needs 55.65.or 75 words really shouldnt matter.

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  5. Hi! Welcome to the club!! Good one!! Pretty intriguing too!
    And nice research on the various genres of fiction!

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  6. Very well written :)
    Really a very Nice first attempt.. :)
    But couldn't get the complete idea behind this..
    "Blood around his mouth" Are they animal?
    Keep writing :)
    Cheers!!

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  7. Hi roshmi....

    I guess it is a very good attempt... because I couldnt understand the concept.. you made me to read it again and again...but still i didnt get the concept..you know i am little bit dumb fellow... so can you explain this to me?

    and you have given a lot of info about dribble drabble,69er..99er..etc.. great one roshmi...

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  8. Hi Roshmi!!!
    Good Fiction.. Revenge is the fire which destroys alot of minds !!
    And hey, the details you wrote about other forms of fictions is very usefuls. I never knew there was a 100 word fiction slot as well!!! Now I can also plan for some drabbles..
    :)

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  9. @ Shruti: Hey Shruti! Welcome to my blog! And No! You're not 'bugging' me... not a bit :)

    I have added some more info re: 'micro-fiction'... to my post. Hope it addresses your Qs. Do check it out and lemme know...

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  10. @ Vipul: Thanks Vipul... and glad you liked it :)

    All of us can indulge in some 'dribble', 'drabble' and 'droubble'... what say... ???

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  11. @ Sid 'Ravan' Kabe: :D

    I'm keen to know your 'inference' though...

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  12. Gyanban: Thanks and thats a nice observation :) But the word limits... only add to the 'challenge' and provide variety. What say... ???

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  13. @ Shilpa: Thanks Shilpa! :)

    I'm keen to know your inference though...

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  14. I can not believe that this is your first attempt.
    It is a very clear,well researched and extremely interesting post.You must have put in a lot effort to collect the data.My best compliments and hope to read more of such interesting posts.

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  15. @ Amit: Thanks Amit! Let me explain:

    We - the Homo sapiens sapiens - think ourselves to be the most superior species on this planet (and beyond). We tend to associate emotions/feelings/values only with one of our own.

    I think... 'grief' is a very strong emotion, that touches one's core, one's soul. One who has experienced immense joy or ecstasy may not have known grief... but not necessarily vice versa.

    The arrival of a newborn brings great joy to the parents. And the untimely/accidental death of a newborn or a child plunges them in grief. For parents it is the time/moment when the world stands still. A feeling that mere words cannot explain (there may be exceptions... but then exceptions prove the rule.)

    Every living being feels the same kind of emotions. We fail to understand and acknowledge this fact. Animals/birds/insects and even plants feel the entire gamut of emotions: happiness, grief, anger, display faith, loyalty... etc.

    After all a parent is a parent.

    Yet, all living beings live by a set of rules... which differ from species to species.

    Here... in this story... I have tried to show all this through a pair of canine.

    Also, that 'revenge' is the fire which destroys a lot of minds. That 'hate' is too strong a word... too negative an emotion. It will burn and destroy the lives of the very people who display it. One can't be fuelled by bitterness. It can eat you up but it cannot drive you.

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  16. @ Shankar: Thanks Shankar! :D Let me explain:

    We - the Homo sapiens sapiens - think ourselves to be the most superior species on this planet (and beyond). We tend to associate emotions/feelings/values only with one of our own.

    I think... 'grief' is a very strong emotion, that touches one's core, one's soul. One who has experienced immense joy or ecstasy may not have known grief... but not necessarily vice versa.

    The arrival of a newborn brings great joy to the parents. And the untimely/accidental death of a newborn or a child plunges them in grief. For parents it is the time/moment when the world stands still. A feeling that mere words cannot explain (there may be exceptions... but then exceptions prove the rule.)

    Every living being feels the same kind of emotions. We fail to understand and acknowledge this fact. Animals/birds/insects and even plants feel the entire gamut of emotions: happiness, grief, anger, display faith, loyalty... etc.

    Afterall, a parent is a parent.

    Yet, all living beings live by a set of rules... which differ from species to species.

    Here... in this story... I have tried to show all this through a pair of canine.

    That 'revenge' is the fire which destroys a lot of minds. That 'hate' is too strong a word... too negative an emotion. It will burn and destroy the lives of the very people who display it. One can't be fuelled by bitterness. It can eat you up but it cannot drive you.

    Hope this addresses your Qs...

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  17. @ Whats in a name: Thanks and welcome to my blog!

    Look forward to reading your drabbles :)

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  18. @ BK Chowla: Thank you Chowlaji... for such encouraging words! :)

    Hope to see you as a member of this ever-growing micro-fiction club...

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  19. Thanks Roshmi..
    Now I can understand it... :)
    Really amazing and thoughtful fiction :)
    Loved it.. :)
    Cheers!!

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  20. Roshmi!
    Actually I wanted the meaning of this fiction which u wrote! But u provided much more explanations than I expected!

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  21. @ Amit: :)

    Well, 'revenge' and 'grief' go hand-in-hand... pretty much like the saying: "if winter comes can spring be far behind"...

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  22. A very good start I must say.... and I had guessed the whole concept with the last paragraph.... you really gave a lot of thought to writing this one...
    Also your research about dribble,drabble et all is very useful for me ;) I'll try them coz its really very difficult to get ideas conveyed in 55-words though could do it sometimes but more words means its easier :D

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  23. @ Dhiman: Thanks! :)

    And as they say, "variety is the spice of life!" All of us can indulge in some 'dribble', 'drabble' and 'droubble' now... what say... ???

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  24. hey Roshmi,
    This is a new concept for me. Totally unheard of. But it does sound like a good experiment. Do keep at it.

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  25. Hi Roshmi,

    It is my first visit to your blog and unexpectedly i am left with surprises, astonishment, admiration, questions, doubts, confirmation, knowledge sharing, introspection, retrospection and awe.....(I do mean every alphabet)

    Thanks a lotttt for the post which gave me the naked/precious/valid/important/truthful confirmation that I am a perfect dumb(Yes, i did not understand the topic in-spite of your spoon feeding explanation). After reading this post, the earth has attracted my feet with all its gravity. I am gathering all my courage and wisdom to ask you shamelessly the dumbest question you might have ever heard?

    What is this topic all about? :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

    Thanks again and sorry too

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  26. @ Mahesh: Thanks for stopping by my blog and for all the generous and kind words :)

    Now... let me explain:

    We - the Homo sapiens sapiens - think ourselves to be the most superior species on this planet (and beyond). We tend to associate emotions/feelings/values only with one of our own.

    I think... 'grief' is a very strong emotion, that touches one's core, one's soul. One who has experienced immense joy or ecstasy may not have known grief... but not necessarily vice versa.

    The arrival of a newborn brings great joy to the parents. And the untimely/accidental death of a newborn or a child plunges them in grief. For parents it is the time/moment when the world stands still. A feeling that mere words cannot explain (there may be exceptions... but then exceptions prove the rule.)

    Every living being feels the same kind of emotions. We fail to understand and acknowledge this fact. Animals/birds/insects and even plants feel the entire gamut of emotions: happiness, grief, anger, display faith, loyalty... etc.

    Afterall, a parent is a parent.

    Yet, all living beings live by a set of rules... which differ from species to species.

    Here... in this story... I have tried to show all this through a pair of canine.

    That 'revenge' is the fire which destroys a lot of minds. That 'hate' is too strong a word... too negative an emotion. It will burn and destroy the lives of the very people who display it. One can't be fuelled by bitterness. It can eat you up but it cannot drive you.

    'Revenge' and 'Grief' go hand-in-hand... pretty much like the saying: "If winter comes can spring be far behind"...


    Hope this helps...

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  27. @ Roshmi,

    My concern is regarding the clarity of (my) perception. I mean do the topic have different perceptions and interpretations ?

    Lemmi write what i perceived....

    "He took revenge by killing the culprits of his children's death and then mourned....."

    Is it all about? Is there something else beyond my bounded perceptional levels?

    But still.... within the virtual bounds of my perceptional horizons, i liked this unique topic verrrrrrrry much. The naturalist and anthropologist in me felt the emotional empathy to the maximum of those canines. The evolutionist went on digging the analysis well. The rationalist did raise some obscure questions.
    It is a great combination as far as my perception is concerned. Almost a feast for my thought process.


    Keep writing....
    Kudos to you buddy.....

    cheers,
    mahesh

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  28. hey.. this is nice!
    I liked the coming back with traces of blood part.. gives a feral touch to the story!

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  29. @ Mahesh: All species are distinct... in their appearance, way of life, rules they live by... etc.

    Yet despite the apparent difference... 'revenge' and 'hate' lead to destruction. It only burns and destroys the lives of the very ones who display these negative emotions. One can't be fuelled by bitterness. It can eat you up but it cannot drive you. There is no end to it.

    'Revenge' and 'Grief' go hand-in-hand... pretty much like the saying: "If winter comes can spring be far behind"... no matter what genus/species/family one belongs to.

    Every living being feels the same emotions... in a similar manner. Afterall, the 'soul' is distinct from the 'body' - the 'outward appearance' or the 'outer covering'. It functions in a uniform manner across species. It does not escape the cycle of 'Karma'... irrespective of the 'outer shell'.

    Yet they (both hate and revenge) are important emotions.

    Certain living beings live by 'their' set of rules... no matter what.

    We, the humans... have a favourite saying: "jaanwar ban jata hai", "jaanwar ki tarah behave karta hai" etc. Is that really so... ???


    P.S. You are right... this story has several layers. The more one thinks.. the more it unfolds :)

    And even then... leaves the reader with the feeling... that "perhaps there is more to it"...

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  30. @ Wandering soul: :)

    The more you think about this story... the more it intrigues...

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  31. wow.. that explains and i am clear now... thanks for patiently replying to this dumb fool....

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  32. Hi roshmi...

    i think you have some problem opening my blog..... which browser are u using??

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  33. @ Shankar: Awww C'mon! Don't say that...

    P.S. I use Internet Explorer. For about 5 days now... haven't been able to access your blog :( :( :(

    btw do share your thoughts regarding my latest 'flash fiction', titled: "Communication" - A Flash Fiction (a form of 'micro-fiction')

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  34. gud work.. not only u did d fiction thing u also gt d info abt all f it.. seriously r u workin as sm research analyst or mayb in sm consultancy ?? cos amt f resrch u do on nethin n evrythin.. phew.. commandable... hats off 2u 4 dat...

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  35. I liked it very very much!
    Your posts are always so informative. Really enjoy them! :)

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  36. @ Sobhit: Ha! Ha! No, I'm not a research analyst or research consultant. But, I take it as a compliment :)

    I like to read and am curious to know things. Thats all.

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  37. WoW ! such a gr8 work...Congrats !!! I was unaware of the different forms of fiction..Thanks for sharing this information.

    The 77 fiction you have wrote is soul-stirring.
    Wish you good luck for future.

    Madhulika.
    www.madhulikasays.blogspot.com

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