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Short prose is a generic term for various kinds of very short fictional prose; short prose may or may not be narrative. Short prose pieces are considerably shorter than a short story, i.e., usually less than c. 1,000 words. Because of their small size, short prose pieces can attain high levels of lexical density and may thereby resemble prose poems, but the focus in short prose is less on language itself (and thus on rhythm, metre, or other phonological effects) than on the rapid presentation of a situation.
A piece of short prose may contain drama, but it normally differs from a vignette in that it has no necessary associations with theatre or character. Because plot is peripheral to, or nonexistent in, short prose, a short prose piece differs from a sketch story in that it does not necessarily invite the reader to imagine what came before or what follows after. Finally, because a piece of short prose does not necessarily have characters, conflict, or resolution, it usually differs from the short short story, flash fiction and microfiction as these are usually defined.
Writers who have favoured the use of short prose include Fyodor Sologub, Daniil Kharms (Случаи), Dezső Kosztolányi, István Örkény (Egyperces novellák), Samuel Beckett (Fizzles), Francis Ponge (Le parti pris des choses), David Eggers (Short Short Stories), Eduardo Berti (La Vie Impossible).