Really, really short stories. Genius.

March 15, 2007


Ficlets is a new site for authoring CC-licensed text snippets which others can play with. It’s pretty cool, and what’s more amazing is it’s come out of AOL. It’s not dissimilar to Yarn, which I mentioned earlier:

ficlets are shorter than short stories. Well, no, actually, they are short stories, but they’re really short stories. Really short, as in there’s not a maximum word count … there’s actually a maximum character count (1,024). There is also a minimum character count, and the number of that beast is 64.

If you wish, we’ll provide you with inspiration (photos, themes, suggested beginnings and endings, even other ficlets), but you’re completely free to blaze your own trail. Now, here’s where the real fun comes in: Each and every ficlet is modular in that, though you may have written a stand-alone story with a beginning, middle, and ending, your fellow ficleteers may choose to write a prequel or sequel to your story. In this respect, you can think of ficlets as literary Legos.

All ficlets are covered under Creative Commons, which means that if you wrote it, you own it. Period.

To give you an idea of what you can do with 1,024 characters, that is the exact length of this “About Ficlets” description

They had to leave a period off the end there, but you get the idea. Ficlets is beautifully implemented and easy to use. There’s also a strange, cool imagination at work here – the ‘Inspiration‘ link pulls random photo sets out of Flickr to spark your creativity, as well as an ‘on this day’ snippet from The History Channel, and some random lines. It’s a beautifully simple mash-up that works very well.

I can’t help thinking of a Yahoo Pipes type GUI to stitch them together into persistent, save-able stories – the current implementation is more of a choose-your-ow-adventure deal, and I don’t have an AOL screen name to see exactly what AIMShare does (OpenID AOL?). But I’ll still be wasting plenty of time there…

[UPDATE: Thanks to Jason Garber in the comments for pointing out that Ficlets does take OpenID. Nice one, guys.]


  1. Its really impressively executed alright James!

    Comment by Eoin Purcell — March 15, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

  2. AIMShare can be found at–if you have an AIM sign-in (which is free), you can use this to automatically share an URL with anyone who has you on their Buddy List. A little indicator shows up next to your name. Pretty easy sharing mechanism.

    Comment by Kerry — March 15, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  3. Hi James, thanks for the write up, the Ficlets team (all… six-ish of us) is happy to hear you’re enjoying our little app.

    AIMShare is a quick little thing that’ll add links to your AIM buddy profile (the one that shows up in Instant Messenger).

    We’ve implemented OpenID as a means of logging in to Ficlets. So you’ve got the option to use an AIM screen name or an OpenID. We think it’s silly to have to keep creating logins at every new site, so we went with the option to use an OpenID. You can use any OpenID service out there (AOL, LiveJournal,, etc.).

    Hope that helps clear some things up and look forward to reading your ficlets!

    Comment by Jason Garber — March 15, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

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