Well, I didn’t win the Flash Fiction World Competition (my entry is here), nor did I even get placed. I’m not bitter (much! Lol), no seriously, I’m fine about it….but, I did find it interesting, what the owner of the site, Vic Errington, had to say about Flash Fiction competition judging.
“I said last time what all writing competition judges say: choosing the winners is a very difficult thing to do. There are always more stories good enough to win than winning places available. I actually considered adding fourth and fifth place winners, but bankruptcy is something I try to avoid.
Many stories are incredibly enjoyable to read but they don’t, in varying degrees, adhere to flash fiction ‘parameters’ and conventions. One scenario that I found in some great pieces of writing is that the story was not a ‘complete’ story – the main expectation of flash fiction.
When readers, after reading an FF story, say that they want to know what happens next, or that they would love to learn more about how the characters developed after the event of the actual story, then, despite the obvious talent of the writer, it isn’t flash fiction. The story needs to stand completely on its own, leaving the reader satisfied and fulfilled.
A flash fiction story should not contain social comment (unless it is part of plot-related dialogue,) or narrator’s thoughts and opinions. The plot is everything in FF. Didactic narrative diverts the reader from the plot and goes against the ‘minimalism’ of true flash fiction – the stripping of everything extraneous to the plot itself. Some great pieces were let down by this.
Many of the stories I read developed brilliantly until the ending. A twist is great, but not strictly necessary. What does have to happen though is that the ending/resolution must say/do something that has a marked effect on the mind of readers – something that teaches them, gives them an aha! moment, makes them ponder long after finishing the story, or even makes them laugh out loud.
In choosing the three winning stories I looked for those that come the nearest to perfection in relation to the points I make above.”
Ok, interesting, back to the drawing board then lol. Entering competitions is as much about luck as it is about talent. Even if the story is perfect, if the judge doesn’t gel with it, you’ve got no chance 😉
Today is World Storytelling Day which doesn’t appear to mean much here in the UK, I’ve never heard of it 😦 There are events going on in some countries, so check out their website for more info. The theme this year is tree’s….so in honour of that, here’s a picture of my favourite tree lol.
I use to climb it as a kid, but now, they’ve put railings round it….happy memories 🙂
So let’s celebrate World Storytelling Day…..Tell me a story….. I know it’s not orally as such, but, it’s as close as I can get to joining in 🙂
I’ll go first……
Once upon a time there was a woman. Career minded, successful, living the dream, but single. Her little brother lived overseas (think, I dunno, running a farm in the outback of Australia) and he was in trouble, financially. She agreed to take 3 months off work to go out there and sort him out (shes a bit of a control freak and works in finance). She meets the man who is bankrupting her brother (the villain). He’s GORGEOUS, rugged and single. She ends up torn between her brother and what could be the love of her life (who turns out to be a rather nice chap and was only carrying out the instructions of his evil step father).
An idea from my note book that will probably never get written….not too sure if I’m really any good at romance 😉
Yesterday’s prompt about the eve of the wedding turned into a story about a young guy, marrying his girlfriend because she’s pregnant….but he doesn’t love her. His mum realises something isn’t quite right and talks him into cancelling. That’s as far as I got, but I’m thinking she’s probably going to try to stop him seeing the baby….very Jeremy Kyle lol 😉 Today’s prompt is write about a family meal. Ooooo, that’ll be fun 🙂
I just realised, it’s Storytelling Day every day on my blog 😉
That is a great tree and an even better humble abode behind it! I’ve never heard anything about Storytelling Day over here either. I’m trying to firm up the blurb for my next book, On A Hot August Afternoon, so here’s a story, sort of anyway.
Stacey is an artist with a rock star husband, Pete, whom she loves with all of her heart. With two young children, and the financial security to pursue her career only when it suits her to do so, she and the kids are about to join her in-laws at the family compound in beautiful South Lake Tahoe for her sister in-law’s wedding. There, she’ll be reunited with Pete who has been out on the road with his band for several weeks. However, she is blindsided when she goes to her mailbox and discovers an envelope of photographs, explicit photographs of her husband and another woman. Suddenly, she’s left questioning everything about the life she is living.
When she confides in her younger sister, Stephanie, that she thinks her husband has been unfaithful, Stephanie, who has married into the same family, can’t believe it. As this tangled web unweaves, both sides of the family get involved, revealing a history of ups and downs.
Lol…..I live about 5 minutes drive from that tree (and the castle) 😉
Oh, World Storytelling Day obviously don’t go in for much publicity lol
Brilliant story hon….oooooo…..what happens?????? (I know you can’t tell me, I’ll just have to read the book!) 🙂
I’ve never thought about flash fiction on the terms she’s mentioned, but it makes sense. I’ll definitely be trying to adhere more closely to the definition of the term now.
No stories from me, I’m afraid. At least not off the top of my head. 🙂
I have to say I was a bit shocked. It was the bit shocked about the fact that if the reader is left asking questions then it isn’t Flash Fiction. Hmmmm, well I’m always left asking questions, that’s just my nature lol
Well that sounds a little strict, but I suppose, must have some guidelines eh? Never mind, keep trying.
Never heard of world storytelling day and that’s living in America where they have a card for almost everything. No story from me I’m afraid, not this time anyway.
They didn’t put railings around that tree to stop you climbing it did they?
Doesn’t it!!!!! Lol
Wow, I’m really shocked at hom quite they’re keeping World Storytelling Day 😦
Actually…..lol….that is why they put the railings up. The tree is outside Rochester Cathedral and everyone use to climb it. But it’s so old the council decided it needed protecting 😉
Rachel Harrie’s Fourth Writer Platform-Building Campaign is the first time I tried flash fiction. I had no idea it was supposed to be an all inclusive story. The entries I liked best were the one’s that made me want to read more. I liked the one’s that would have made a great blurb or book trailer for a novel coming out in the near future. I guess I was off base. I’m probably not cut out for flash fiction.
BTW: Great tree!
I kinda knew it had to be a stand alone piece, but, personally, I like the ones that do leave you asking questions….but I’m not a judge lol 😉
I’m beginning to think the same hon lol
Thanks, yeah, it is…..I’ll have to dig out the pictures of me climbing it when I was younger.
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Ooo, I hope you keep going with that story! 🙂
I had no idea today was World Storytelling Day! 🙂 I love the idea of dedicating a day to the art of storytelling!
So many stories, so little time hon 😉 Perhaps one day.
No, neither did I….you’d think there would be more publicity wouldn’t you!
p.s. That tree is gorgeous! 🙂
It is isn’t it…..it’s hundreds of years old, so Charles Dickens may have even lent against it as it was there when he lived in this area. It’s opposite the spot he wanted to be buried in, but Queen Victoria over-ruled his wishes and had him interned in Westminster Abbey.
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It’s always sad to see a writer new to competitions taking the ‘not winning’ syndrome badly. I went through it myself a few years ago. I could not believe that the wonderful story I had entered did not even get 3rd place. I immediately rattled off a post on a forum that brought the judge’s credibility into question – subtly of course. In hindsight and as a writing judge I now see the naivety in my post.
You are right Vikki:
“… even if the story is perfect, if the judge doesn’t gel with it, you’ve got no chance”
If you ever find yourself judging a writing competition you’ll realise that it can’t be any other way. That’s why publishers and competition holders are always saying to contributors and entrants “make sure you read our magazine … previous winners … before submitting/entering …”
Once the technicalities, the writing skills, of entries have been assessed and a shortlist drawn up, how else can it be judged except by the judge’s personal taste as a human being?
Your story, On the Horizon, is well written, and I recommend you enter it into other competitions. But do check out previous winners before entering, or, as I do, Google the judge to find out a little about her/his literary tastes.
Editor Flash Fiction World
Hi Vic, and thank you so much for stopping by!
I can only just begin to imagine how hard it is being a judge for a writing competition. It’s definitely not something I’d want to do.
Honestly, I’m not bitter about not winning, I can laugh about it. After reading your piece that I quoted its entirely obvious why I didn’t win (and which is why i quoted it) But it was good to give it a go, it made me realise that I’m not really cut out for Flash Fiction.
Thank you for your comments about my story 🙂
I honestly don’t agree that you aren’t cut out for flash fiction, Vikki. Just because I run a website on flash fiction doesn’t mean I am the last word on it 🙂 On the Horizon has structure – beginning, middle and end. On the technical side it is very good. But for me it lacks heart. For others though, and in other contexts, it may be full of heart.
I see from your website that you lack confidence in your writing – perhaps in other areas too. Don’t be like countless others and give up, Vikki. Push on, read lots, write stories from your heart, and earn the recognition you deserve. Get a competition win under your belt and the lie that you keep telling yourself about not being good enough will be exposed for what it is – a lie. And it is an absolute lie – even though you choose to believe it.
Get into the zone and write a story that will leave your readers gasping. Don’t spare their feelings. Don’t spare your own feelings. Bloody well get some blood, sweat and tears onto the page. You need to make your mark, Vikki Thompson. Make it while you can.
Wow! I could kind of picture you wagging your finger at me Vic 🙂
Thanks honey, I will definitely take on board everything you’ve said 🙂