In A Handbook to Literature.  3rd. ed. C. Hugh Holman defines the term vignette as

[a] sketch or essay or brief narrative characterized by great precision and delicate accuracy of composition.  The term is borrowed from that used for unbordered but delicate decorative designs for a book, and it implies writing with comparable grace and economy.  It may be a separate whole or a portion of a larger work.  The term is also applied to very brief short-short stories, less than five hundred words in length.  (551) 


‘Vignettes are the literary equivalent of a snapshot [photograph].’ ~Wikipedia

When you think of what to include in a vignette, think of capturing the single image/moment caught by a photograph.  You are capturing that exact, precise moment … and nothing else! You are not developing a plot, rather delving into a brief moment in time.

For inspiration on vignettes in a healthcare setting, please view Cleveland Clinic’s video on Empathy at

Each scene is an example of a short vignette in which the characters are set up to foil or oppose one another to create tension that can then be alleviated by following their message to be more empathetic. This is a perfect example of how vignettes can be used effectively in bioethics and healthcare. How can we draw from our discussions today about the Falun Gong to create effective vignettes?