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Flash Fiction Judge’s Report Q2 2021
This quarter’s report is by Diane Simmons
I’d like to thank Flash 500 for asking me to judge the competition again and the first readers who selected such a varied and interesting shortlist. I’d also like to thank all the writers who submitted and trusted me with their stories. With the growth in popularity in writing flash fiction, competition for a winning place is always fierce which makes reading shortlists an enjoyable but difficult task. I read and re-read the stories over ten days, reading my favourites out loud many times. Although the three stories I selected are all very different, they have one thing in common and that is an ending which left me satisfied and in one instance very surprised. Some of the stories that fell short I felt could have done with a bit more clarification. It’s good to make the reader work hard, but with some stories I could have done with a few more pointers. I would like to make a small plea for writers to learn the difference between a dash and a hyphen – small details help to make a good impression.
First Place: Soar, Swoop, Fall
This was my favourite story from the off. Reading it reminded me of when I went to an ice-skating gala in the 1980s and I watched Robin Cousins on the ice. He looked totally at home and I had no fear that he might fall as some of the other skaters had done that evening. Reading Soar, Swoop Fall, I knew from the first paragraph that I was in safe hands, that the writer was not going to fail or let me down. Full of detail, the flash has an excellent voice and structure. The final paragraph, told as a breathless sentence, works really well, helping to emphasise the protagonist’s distress.
Second Place: Never say happy when you mean sanguine
This flash is crammed full of wonderful descriptions and has a totally unexpected ending that made me head straight back to the beginning to read the flash again. The character of Mama is cleverly painted and we learn so much about her by the writer’s use of her deceased mama’s voice, the descriptions of her belongings and Mama’s actions and opinions. A totally engaging flash, told in an original and interesting way.
Third Place: My Real Husband
This flash has an excellent voice. Told in one breathless sentence, I was drawn into this story immediately, unable to stop reading until I reached the end. The story is full of interesting detail and description, making it easy for the reader to picture our protagonist’s past and present life and to feel involved and invested. But there is also much left unsaid. I thought the ending was perfect.