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Flash Fiction Competition Winners Announced 2019

For our annual Flash Fiction Competition, we celebrated the art of writing small to make a big impact. To help us navigate the genre, we enlisted YA author and flash fiction expert Tara Lynn Masih, who urged the WtW community to focus less on word count and to “have faith in your little story, that if it’s done well, the reader can read between the lines”. She also encouraged us to simply, “have fun with the process”. After poring over this year’s bumper crop of entries, it’s clear that fun was most certainly the focus! Read on to find out which of the fantastic flash fiction submissions earned prizes for Best Entry, Runner Up, and Best Peer Review.


From Tara:

What a Farm Boy Lays Down in a Field (October, 1943) by RenMarie02

As a judge, I usually know I’ve likely found the winning story or poem the minute I read the title and first line or two. For me, it’s an instinctive emotional and physical reaction to what I’ve just read. I become invested immediately on an emotional level, and physically I sit up straighter and my heartbeat quickens and I hope my interest lasts till the end. The win is likely to be clinched if there is a powerful or well-crafted final line and no false notes. RenMarie’s story drew me in with a title that leaves a question open in the reader’s mind (what is being laid down?) and with the grounding, heavy date. War time. Then the evocative first line which is both mysterious, original, and full of wonderful poetic alliteration; flash is best in my opinion when it uses poetic devices. Each word in this story earns its place, and the images are potent and original—the nail through the hand, the fly-infested family pet—which helps to elevate a story that has been told before. But nothing is more powerful than the understated role of the telegram boy, biting his lip. I would not change a word of this remarkable little story, which is universal and could be set in many rural areas in 1943. We hear, we feel, and we mourn. Well done!

the crime by paigepodesta

I appreciate it when writers experiment with formatting. The use of lowercase in this story is well suited to the age of the narrator. While this story title is less poetic than the winner’s, it’s well chosen. The brevity suits the piece and serves to almost lead you in the wrong direction. When we think of crime, we think of some unlawful act that is usually violent in nature. Instead we get plopped down right away into a roller rink with allusions to religion and holiness. I loved the details (neon lights, fluorescent doodles, noses brushing—much better than the cliché “hands”) and the effective use of repetition. Note how the author begins three sentences that hammer home the title, then switches it up at the end with “sacrilege.” This puts a stronger emphasis on the final line. And with all of this skill, there is deep, deep emotion in “the crime.” I loved it.


PorOKio’S (UK)  review of “Your pain doesn’t make you stronger”

I was very impressed with this reviewer’s perceptive reading and advice. The reviewer has a strong sense of what makes for effective flash fiction and doesn’t intrude too much on the author’s story but offers some very constructive guidance. As a reader, the reviewer points to the right strengths in the piece and has the empathy to read it well, but also the instincts to improve it without doing a total rewrite. The details the reviewer encourages are all things that make prose stronger. I especially liked the suggestion to add a domestic item. In flash, a simple object can replace many words. This reviewer put a lot into this for their peer and hopefully the peer took some of these suggestions. The best advice allows the author to retain their voice and objective but improve the piece with doable suggestions.


All the finalists did a wonderful job and I’m really impressed that these were written by folks 18 and under (my writing was not this strong in high school). I would like to call out two more stories that came oh so close to being the runner up. “Myling” by Goldfish-Bowl (Canada) is similar in tone to the winning story; its title is also evocative, it’s first line is fabulous, and nothing is out of place. “Dealing with Loss” by patpat_wang (US)  is very clever, but still has emotional depth. That doesn’t always happen, that a writer can be both clever and deep. Thanks for the opportunity to read these wonderful micros. Keep writing, all of you!

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