Brevity is the Soul of Fic

Microfiction, Microfic, and Shakespearean Abridgement in Online Fan Fiction


  • Johnathan Pope Memorial University of Newfoundland, Grenfell Campus



Fan Fiction, Microfiction, Brevity, Archive, Fan Studies


Through a focus on Shakespeare fan fiction, this article discusses ‘microfic’ – short-form fan fiction – as a unique genre of microfiction. Sometimes consisting of fewer than ten words, microfiction relies on clever twists or epiphanies rather than character or plot development for its effect. Although microfic is equally brief and compact, as a genre of fan fiction, it is always engaged in a sustained dialogue with a fan object such as Shakespeare that serves to import whole plots, characters, and metatextual debates into the text with the mention of a name or place. As such, the brevity of microfic is illusory, as it continually draws on – and contributes to – the fan object and its archive. Unlike microfiction in general, micofic is never self-contained. Through an analysis of numerous Shakespeare microfics available in the Archive of Our Own fan fiction database, this article indicates the extent to which their silences are seldom silent.