Well, at least loosely. In a nutshell, postcard fiction is a story that fits on a postcard. Makes sense. Now just how many words one can fit on a postcard is debatable and while I have never seen a definitive amount generally speaking it is no more than 500 words, although 250 words seem the most common.
Even though the name implies an image of some sort, that is by no means a requirement. It is really just the length of the story that is important. Having said that, some magazines and websites require submissions of both text and image, for example, Geist Magazine’s annual Postcard Story Contest. Other sites like Postcard Shorts do not.
The idea for postcard fiction is older than you might think. According to the people at Postcard Shorts the first postcard story was published in 1977 by Arthur C. Clarke and was called “Quarantine.” Read more at Postcard Shorts or follow their link to the entire story here.
Those of you who have tried writing short fiction know that a shorter length doesn’t make it quick and easy to write. There is a challenge in trying to convey all the elements of a story in very few words. As a writer, you need to make every word count; words should be full of substance and layered with meaning. Demands are made on the reader as well. Okay, maybe I’m a bit of a geek, but I love stories that are left open to interpretation, where I can fill in the blanks myself based upon hints, imagery, implications, and what was not said by the author.
As for my own writing, this blog was inspired by the Geist contest I mentioned above. I really enjoyed the challenge of writing image inspired prose. I limited my own writing to fifty words because of an old postcard I had sent someone. They found it recently and thought I’d be amused to see it. In my large cursive I wrote 25 words. I thought if I had written smaller I could have fit at least fifty words on the back sending them something a bit more meaningful.
And voila, postcardfiction.com was born.