This quarter’s report is by Amanda Saint
Firstly, I’d like to say well done to everyone who wrote a story and entered the competition in the midst of such unprecedented times. And to all writers everywhere who wrote anything whether they sent it out or not. It can be hard to maintain a fiction writing practice when the world outside is something we’ve never seen before.
I’ve really enjoyed reading the shortlisted stories as over the many years that I’ve been reading and writing fiction, flash has come to be my first love. Those whole words condensed into such carefully chosen words that convey so much while saying so little.
All of the stories I read had something about them and, as always, when judging competitions, it is so hard to choose. The winners I have chosen are the stories that resonated with me most as it was the things that were left unsaid that lingered in my mind long after reading.
Winner: The 91 and a ½ Reasons Why It Can’t Be True
I loved the use of counting in this to show the progress of the narrator and her lover’s relationship and how she has clung on to these things they did together. At under 300 words, it has great pace but feels like a much bigger story. The final lines, which showed how the counting was being used to support her denial, turned it around and added a real layer of poignancy. And changing the way she counted in the final line had such an impact. I read it over and over again.
2nd Place: Jupiter Rising
How the parents in the story are portrayed with such depth from a few lines of dialogue and action is brilliant writing. The narrator’s voice surrounding his parents’ is used to such great effect to show how his world is completely defined by them but also that he sees, and understands, so much more than they think he does. The one word opening to each paragraph to set the tone of what was to follow is a great narrative device that the writer has used really well.
3rd Place: An Absence of Defensive Injuries
This story cleverly misdirects you right from the moment you read the title. I was expecting it to be something different and the direction it went in took me by surprise. From the arresting opening images of the sheep, dead of mysterious causes, questions were posed that didn’t end up being answered. It’s difficult to pull this off in flash but the writer has done so skilfully and used repetition so well to give the title a whole new meaning.
Highly Commended: Little Squares
The voice of the narrator so wonderfully matches the situation she’s in, which is so vividly drawn from the opening lines. The repeated use of little squares throughout that the narrator uses to comfort herself, then to rescue herself, is a great touch. But I especially like the double meaning of them in the story and in the title, as she is kept prisoner in a little square basement, but other little squares are also her means of escape, in more ways than one.
We regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.