Postcard Fiction Defined

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.

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5 comments
  1. Very cool! I love what you’re doing. Beautiful images, thoughtful words. Check out my site — my creative and expansive task is finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, doing a brief writing on it with photos. You may like to add some of your own treasures in the reply field: Treasuresoftheday.wordpress.com. Would love to see them!

    • Thanks. I’ll come and take a look at what you’re doing.

  2. How interesting! Truthfully, I’ve never heard of postcard fiction before, but I really like what I see here. Is this like flash fiction (which I’ve heard of but never explored). You can probably tell I’m not a fiction writer, but I do love to read it. I look forward to coming back. 🙂

    (p.s. thanks for the “like.” Please come visit anytime.)

    • Thanks for stopping by. Postcard fiction is very similar to flash fiction (it might even be a subgenre), generally flash fiction is longer (1000 words).

  3. I love, love, love!! your postcard fiction. Recently I challenged the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Your few cleverly crafted phrases combined with even an unremarkable photo stimulate a synaptic firework display in my brain! I have been sitting in the science field too long 🙂

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