Summer. The days are long, the nights are hot. Time seems both to stand still and slip away. Inspiration for writers is all over the place–at a lake as a father plays with his child, in the crackle of melting ice in a glass of tea, with an exuberant dog chasing the spray of water from the sprinkler on the lawn.
Sound like fodder for a contest? We thought so. And because summer seems to go by in a flash, we decided that this year we’d host a flash fiction contest.
What’s flash fiction?
Flash fiction, is a highly addicting form of writing, and like a Twitter version of storytelling. Brief. Potent. Forcing the writer to strip a concept down to its essence. Though each story is told with a minimum amount of words, usually less than 1000, it also has a beginning, middle, and end. We like the Irish Times’ take on it.
In essence, a flash fiction is a very short short story, the classic example being attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
It also can be written in a flash. Back to the Irish Times:
As a writer the appeal is the immediacy,” says Canadian author John McFetridge, “the very short trip from initial inspiration to finished product. I just spent almost three years working on a book, but a flash fiction can be done in a couple of days.
It can even be finished in a couple of hours, if you’re truly inspired.
So about that contest…
Here’s the scoop:
- Each Sunday until August 5th we will post a prompt (most or all will be provided by our own Debbie Ohi). The story must be inspired by that week’s visual prompt.
- Each submission must be 250 words or less. That’s a far cry from the 1000 words we mentioned earlier, but we know you can do it. Consider it ultra-flash fiction. Also, 250 words will fit more easily in our comment section.
- Each story must contain a beginning, middle, and end. Like all stories, a compelling narrative is essential, and the restrictive word count means that each word is crucial.
- All submitted work must be original–not published anywhere else, and written by you, for this contest. After the contest, what you do with your flash-of-brilliance story is up to you; we hold no claim on your work.
- Post submissions in the comment section of the prompt post. Each week, the deadline will be 72 hours after the prompt is posted on Sunday morning, meaning Wednesday at 7 a.m. EST. Stories posted after the deadline will not be eligible for the contest, but feel free to post them anyway — we’d still love to read them.
- No more than two entries per person, per week will be eligible for that week. If a person posts more than twice on a prompt, only the first two entries from that person will be considered.
- The top three stories from each week will be selected by a mix of votes in the form of Likes in the comment section and our own discretion.
- On the 7th Sunday, we’ll present a roundup of the top three stories from each week along with a poll. From there, using poll results and our own discretion, we’ll choose three finalists.
- Within a week of the poll, we’ll announce a first, second and third place winner!
- Winners are happy. We are happy. We all have a deepened appreciate for flash fiction.
“Deepened appreciation”? Does that mean there isn’t a prize?
Please. Do you really have to ask that?
The GRAND-PRIZE WINNER will receive a bounty of goodies intended to help capture writerly inspirations in a flash, even if you’re not in front of your computer. UPDATED to be even more fabulous, with a more powerful recorder and Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice to Print Software!
- A Sony ICD-SX712D Digital Flash Voice Recorder, perfect for dictating story ideas and dialog fragments while on the road–driving or walking. This recorder also comes with Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice to Print Software. Here’s the official product description:
Sony ICD-SX712 Digital Flash Voice Recorder has a built-in 2GB memory with an SD card slot, which affords an additional 16GB of storage capacity for lectures, notes, music, meetings or any other audio you may want to record. The maximum recording time afforded by the internal memory is 500+ hrs, but a 16GB microSD card can expand the ICD-SX712′s maximum recording time upwards of 4000+ hrs.Making recording and playback more convenient, the ICD-SX712 is equipped with an LCD-backlit display, multiple language displays and record date, time and elapsed time displays as well. It has an LED operational indicator and can be set in various modes such as Continuous Play, Easy Search and Noise-Cut during record and playback. It also features Direct Record to Play, Erase, Move File, Protect, Play/Stop, Record/Pause Scene Select, Low-Cut and Track Mark functions as well.As an added luxury, the ICD-SX712 boasts the Sound Organizer PC software. It also features a USB port, 3.5 mm stereo mic input and 3.5 mm stereo headphone output. The ICD-SX712 has an integrated speaker for listening back to recordings out loud when privacy is not a concern. It comes with two AAA batteries that can last up to 25 hrs. The device is USB charge capable and the recorder can fit easily in your pocket or purse and is barely noticeable in your hand, weighing a scant 2.4 oz.
It really is a great tool.
- a Scuba writing slate with pencil for the tub or shower–because the shower is a magic place where storytelling unfurls! Basically this is a lightweight white board and pencil that can be drenched and still function perfectly, but here’s the official description in case you’re flummoxed:
Diver’s Underwater Writing Slate for Snorkeling, Scuba Diving to Tell your dive buddy what you are seeing by simply writing on the face of this easy to use underwater communication device. Great item for communicating underwater, especially for trainers.
- a Night-Writer pen–a bright, nighttime friend to help you capture those two a.m. inspirations
- the first EVER produced Writer Unboxed T-shirt, featuring the WU logo. You tell us the size, we’ll make it happen.
The SECOND-PLACE WINNER will receive the second ever produced Writer Unboxed T-shirt, along with the first EVER WU coffee mug.
The THIRD-PLACE WINNER will receive the third ever produced Writer Unboxed T-shirt. Which, hey, is still pretty cool.
When does the contest start?
Right now! Use the drawing posted below as your prompt. And don’t worry if you can’t participate in this week’s contest; there are still five more chances to share an entry. Good luck!
Drawing courtesy © Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator of the soon-to-be-released book for children, I’m Bored.