Now that Competition season is underway, you’ve likely noticed that we’ve got half a dozen writing competitions open (awesome, I know).
The first to close, and the first to announce its results this year is the Flash Fiction 1000. The deadline is May 28th, and the results come out just over a month later on the 1st of July.
So, what about it, eh?
It’s a reasonably small competition, for sure. It’s just £3.00 to enter, and the prize pool is £50.00 for first place, and £10.00 for runner up. You may be asking yourself why it’s such a small entry fee and prize pool, because you know of course we’re offering both personalised feedback for every entrant, as well as publication in our magazine and anthology. It seems like a good deal, then, right? It’s not going to break the bank, and you get to compete for all those things money can’t buy.
Strangely, that’s the idea. We wanted to provide a series of competitions this year that catered to just that - our new Tier 1 competitions. There are a lot of us out there that just, as a rule, don’t part with money for literary and writing competitions. And for good reason - I shudder to think how many hundreds of points I’ve needlessly thrown away on entry fees. And for most of them, I didn’t even know if my entry was being read!
Grindstone is, of course, different, because we read every entry and give feedback. That’s why we can’t do a free-to-enter competition where we provide feedback, because we have to pay the wages of our judges and readers, and the entry fees go towards that, for the most part.
But, after crunching the numbers, we’ve been able to provide a competition which has as small an entry fee as possible, and yet still offers all the amazing things that our larger competitions do, too! And of course, we had to put in some sort of cash prize as a sweetener, even if it is just enough to cover a couple of rounds of celebration drinks.
So, onto the competition itself. What do we want?
As a Flash Fiction competition, we want you to do away with all the frills and unnecessary waffle, and get right to the heart of it. The sorts of pieces that win our flash fiction competitions are usually the white-knuckle rides. They’re the ones that come out of the gate at a hundred miles an hour and never pause for breath.
Now, that isn’t to say that a piece of well constructed, poignant prose can’t do well, but what we like to see and what we favour in these competitions, is brevity. Can you do a lot with a little?
Flash Fiction is a testing ground. It’s a genre in which you can explore your boldest selves. 3000 words is a lot to pull together into a sweeping narrative. To keep a reader hooked for a long time is certainly a tall order. But, with Flash Fiction, it’s often the bravest writing that stands out.
So, when you’re thinking about what to write, don’t limit yourselves by the usual constraints. Buck off those shackles and spread your literary wings. Let them beat hard and fast and with every ounce of strength you have, take hold of the biggest story you can think of, and wedge and cram and shoehorn it into the word count. Previous winners have taken us to other planets and dimensions, shown us fantasy worlds and epic battles, dragged us through time to primeval jungles, and shown us love stories that carry a lifetime of pain and emotion.
How? Because they weren’t afraid to dream big, and you shouldn’t be either.
This competition marks the start of something very special - so make it count.
Until next time,