Snackable Fiction: What You Should Know About ‘Short’ Story Writing

by Bethany Toong, Cedar Girls' Secondary School

‘Snackable’ fiction, a phrase coined by five local writers, was introduced to budding writers–teachers and students alike–during a panel session held on day 2 of the Young Writer’s Festival 2017.

The room at SCAPE held close to thirty people, with a panel of five local writers: Joelyn Alexandra, S Mickey Lin, Patricia Pinto, Valerie Oliveiro and Ganaesh Devaraj.

These five writers thought of the term ‘snackable’ fiction to describe their collection of flash fiction, entitled Pulp Toast/ Roti Bakar. The term refers to a piece of writing that had to be not more than 3000 words and containing a unexpected twist of some sort.

Inspired by ‘penny dreadfuls’, Pulp Toast was produced by the speakers with the intention of creating a piece of reading for relaxation, something that one could be entertained with on the go.

Less is more in the world of short story writing. As the writers explained, one need not include too many details when creating a short story. Instead, they cautioned young writers to bear in mind the important details that add in pushing the story along.

Having a plot twist spices up the story, Ms Joelyn Alexandra shared. To prevent short stories from becoming a flat piece of writing, including unexpected changes in direction in your writing, since short stories are meant to be captivating. Adding in a climax in one’s story can intrigue the readers, she added.

Characters are vital in a successful short story, highlighted Mr S Mickey Lin. He shared that contrary to popular belief, the story line is not always what makes a story good. In fact, he added, characters are the driving force in making the story more believable. Although character description is common in novels, short stories tend to only keep certain hints about the character’s personality, a trait, Mr Lin shared, which allows the readers to put two and two together.

Heavy impacts are not your goal in ‘snackable’ fiction, the writers urged. Instead this type of writing prioritises the unexpected, not a heavy impact. Writers might not want to focus too much on creating a depth into the story, as ‘snackable’ fiction is meant for the light-hearted.

The writers also stressed the importance of putting in effort to get published. Noting that it is not an easy process, their advice was to just try and try again.

Packed with humour and plot twists, bite-sized snackable stories would be able to keep its readers in peals of laughter or in suspense, effectively hooking readers in building up the habit of reading once more.