Winners in a Flash

When I sounded the call for entries to Monday’s first Flash Fiction contest, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I sounded the call for entries to Monday’s first Flash Fiction contest, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Although not as restrictive as the six-word gem (credited to Ernest Hemingway, although its authorship may be apocryphal) that sparked interest in short-shorts — “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” — flash fiction is still a new arena for a lot of writers.

The rules were simple: Keep it under 250 words. Actually, that was the only rule.

We received 65 entries that ran the gamut from personal nightmares of attempted rape onboard transAtlantic steam ships to fast lessons on the job that life can be a con game. We had seasoned writers still in their teens to first-time scribblers who had long since blown the candles out on their 80th birthdays.

To make things fair, I formatted all the stories as plain text documents, gave each one a title if one wasn’t supplied, and removed the authors’ names. In a nice little slice of serendipity, one of the entries happened to arrive from a favourite author of mine — whom I’ve never actually met — who once made his home here and taught generations of Canadian writers at the University of Victoria.

Due to the inclusion of W.P. Kinsella (author of Shoeless Joe, among countless other award-winning tales), I recused myself as a judge. That way I was able to send all the stories to the remaining four judges (all published authors in their own right) without them having any knowledge of who wrote what.

Each story was ranked out of a total of 10 points. When all the results were back in my hands, I tabulated the scores.

Until this moment (unless they’ve anxiously skipped ahead), the winning writers only know they have been selected as finalists. They don’t know where they have placed or what cool prize they’ve won until they turn to Page 19 and read our special four-page section.

The best part is that every Monday reader gets to share in the wealth as you have eight fast and entertaining morsals to sink your eyeballs into, including a first-time-in-print Kinsella original.

Now that’s pretty cool. M

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