Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Fourth Quarter 2019

First: What Went Through my Mind when I First Read About the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory - the Phenomenon Whereby a Minute Localized Change in a Complex System can have Large Effects Elsewhere by Jan Kaneen

Second: An Excerpt from the Dictionary of Antiquity by Sarah Mosedale

Third: Giant of a Man by Jamie D Stacey

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

Highly Commended: Tell Us Three Things about Yourself, One of Which is a Lie by Sharon Telfer

 

Judge’s Report for the fourth quarter’s competition 2019 from Ingrid Jendrzejewski

 

First of all, I’d like to applaud every writer who took the time to write, edit, polish and submit a flash for this competition.  I truly believe that finishing work and sending it out into the world is something to celebrate, regardless of the outcome.  It was a treat to spend the past week with the shortlisted stories, and given the volume of submissions, I’m sure there were many more stories that only narrowly missed out. 

One of the things that excites me most about flash fiction is the potential to experiment and play with ideas, techniques, styles and structures.  In a tight, compressed space, one can often work a kind of magic that might wear thin if stretched into the dimensions of a longer story, and every word has to pull more than its own weight.  I also love the way very, very short stories can suggest worlds more than what is on the page.  Perhaps, then, it will be no surprise that the pieces that resonated with me the most are ones that are bold, inventive and thoughtfully crafted, and that open up into much larger stories with each rereading.

There were many things to admire in the pieces I read.  In particular, I admired the voice in ‘Objects of Desire’, and the way this piece presents a truly complicated, multi-layered narrator – a feat that can be tricky to pull off in a limited number of words.  I also thought ‘[No Audible Dialogue]’ was an ambitious, thought-provoking piece that uses one simple airport goodbye to tell a much larger story about family, society, conflict, and the various roles we all play individually and collectively.  I also loved the beautifully-rendered sense of place in ‘Behind the Mountains, More Mountains’, the imagery and extended metaphor in ‘Punctuation’, the weaving of past and present in ‘Raining Mad’, the pacing in the wry ‘The Art of Buying and Selling Stolen Property’, and the refrain and mathematical through line in ‘Setting All Terms to Zero’.

Congratulations to the winners, shortlisted and longlisted authors, and to everyone who sent in work. 

Happy writing and submitting in 2020,

Ingrid Jendrzejewski

 

Without further ado, here are my choices for this round of Flash 500:

 

1st: What Went Through my Mind when I First Read About the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory - the Phenomenon Whereby a Minute Localized Change in a Complex System can have Large Effects Elsewhere

This is a piece that takes risks, and those risks pay off.  The title cleverly anchors us in a moment when the narrator first faces an onslaught of memories about a certain event in her past, and the rest of the piece spills out as a series of ‘What if’ questions that trace the way that event played out.  We see everything from the child’s perspective, but there are plenty of hints as to the adult drama that is unfolding around her.  The flash’s structure gives it a raw, relentless pace, and the title combined with the ending hint at another huge story that takes place off the page – the story of what happened next. 

 

2nd: An Excerpt from the Dictionary of Antiquity

I love hermit-crab flash – i.e. flash that borrows the structure of another form of writing to tell its story – and this is a fine example.  This piece is presented as a series of dictionary entries from sometime in the future, weaving in references to contemporary pop culture within its definitions.  Not only do these entries hint at what this new future is like, but they give us an interesting, defamiliarised perspective on contemporary domestic relations and gender stereotypes...quite a lot to pack into 400-some words!

 

3rd: Giant of a Man

In one relentless paragraph, we see the world through the eyes of a new, sleep-deprived father ploughing through the minutia of the caregiving tasks with which he is faced.  The rush of text perfectly encapsulates the exhaustion and intensity of early parenthood, but then, the end opens out into a beautifully crafted, understated moment in which we are invited to pause with this new father and baby as they regard each other.   The writer gives us everything we need to understand the father’s shifting sense of identity, and not a word more. 

 

Highly Commended: Tell Us Three Things about Yourself, One of Which is a Lie

This delicious piece presents and develops three statements which we are invited by the story’s very title to distrust.  Although we know we can’t fully believe our unreliable narrator’s account of themselves, their family history, or anything else for that matter, the reader can’t help but be drawn in by the vivid details, folk history, larger-than-life (or are they?) stories, and exuberant tone.  This piece is a masterclass of the technique of leaving gaps for the reader to fill in; not only does the piece hint at larger stories beyond the page, but the reader has to make decisions about which of the on-the-page ‘facts’ to trust. 

 

We regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries for the Fourth Quarter 2019 — in alphabetical order

 

An Excerpt from the Dictionary of Antiquity by Sarah Mosedale

Behind the Mountains, More Mountains by Hannah Storm

Caliburn by Mark Stewart

Collecting by Charlie Swailes

Deception by Zoe Crowest

Different Shades of Shame by Jennifer Riddalls

For Sale by Amanda Huggins

Giant of a Man by Jamie D Stacey

Kiss the Curb by Jamie D Stacey

Life after Life by Jamie D Stacey

Little Squares by Dreena Collins

No Audible Dialogue by Remi Skytterstad Pedersen

No Longer to Industry Standard by Linda Grierson-Irish

Notes to Self on New Year's Resolutions by Taria Karillion

Objects of Desire by Lee Reilly

Punctuation by Anne Howkins

Raining Mad by Anneliese Schultz

Roget’s Meaning of Life by Sherri Turner

Setting all Terms to Zero by Anne Howkins

Tell Us Three Things about Yourself, One of Which is a Lie by Sharon Telfer

The Art of Buying and Selling Stolen Property by Roger Berwick

The Message by Rob Nisbet

The Shadow of Stained Glass by Michelle Matheson

Things Hannelore Doesn't Know by Barbara Kuessner Hughes 

What Went Through my Mind when I First Read About the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory - the Phenomenon Whereby a Minute Localized Change in a Complex System can have Large Effects Elsewhere by Jan Kaneen

 

Long Listed Entries for the Fourth Quarter 2019 — in alphabetical order

 

A Day Out by Catherine Ogston

Albatross by Jeremy Hughes

All in a Day’s Work by Cath Waterhouse

An Excerpt from the Dictionary of Antiquity by Sarah Mosedale

Behind the Mountains, More Mountains by Hannah Storm

Blackberry Valentine by Niamh MacCabe

Bleed Blue by Jamie D Stacey

Brown Boots by Diane Simmons

Caliburn by Mark Stewart

Christmas Jumper by Graeme Whalen

Cold Comfort by Charlie Swailes

Collecting by Charlie Swailes

Deception by Zoe Crowest

Diadem through the Eyes of the Bear by Donna L Greenwood

Different Shades of Shame by Jennifer Riddalls

Eclipse by Sandra Jensen

Flat-pack by Roz Okatan

For Sale by Amanda Huggins

Giant of a Man by Jamie D Stacey

Hard Hug by Sherry Morris

Heat by Taria Karillion

How It Ends by Catherine Ogston

In the Land of Peculiar Proverbs by Tony Oswick

Just Try It by Patricia Donovan

Keeping Time for my Father by Louise Mangos

Kiss the Curb by Jamie D Stacey

Life after Life by Jamie D Stacey

Little Squares by Dreena Collins

Nesting House by Niamh MacCabe

No Audible Dialogue by Remi Skytterstad Pedersen

No Longer to Industry Standard by Linda Grierson-Irish

Notes to Self on New Year's Resolutions by Taria Karillion

Objects of Desire by Lee Reilly

Punctuation by Anne Howkins

Raining Mad by Anneliese Schultz

Remembering by Debbi Voisey

Roget’s Meaning of Life by Sherri Turner

Setting all Terms to Zero by Anne Howkins

Stitches by Jamie D Stacey

Tell Us Three Things about Yourself, One of Which is a Lie by Sharon Telfer

The Art of Buying and Selling Stolen Property by Roger Berwick

The Exodus of the Majestic by Taria Karillion

The Extraordinary Coda of Rosemary Finn by Taria Karillion

The Letter by Sofia Santiago

The Message by Rob Nisbet

The Shadow of Stained Glass by Michelle Matheson

The Storeroom by Peter Kelly

Things Hannelore Doesn't Know by Barbara Kuessner Hughes 

Tinkle Bell by Lorna Easterbrook

Trajectory of a Doughnut by Linda Grierson-Irish

What Went Through my Mind when I First Read About the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory - the Phenomenon Whereby a Minute Localized Change in a Complex System can have Large Effects Elsewhere by Jan Kaneen