Judge’s Report by Diane Simmons
I rarely find choosing just three stories from a shortlist of twenty-five to be an easy task and this competition was particularly difficult, perhaps in part to a greater variety of themes than normal. This was cheering to see and I was also pleased to see that there were some interesting and intriguing titles and also a few humorous entries.
It took me almost two weeks of reading, re-reading and reading the stories out loud, to whittle them down to my favourite seven, then five, then four, then (after a great deal of deliberation and angst), to my final three. Once I had the three winners, I tried to leave them alone for a few days to settle, but I found I kept thinking about them and sneaking off to take a peek. When I returned to read them again properly, I was then able to decide on the placings easily. This point in the judging process is always a satisfying one.
The three winners are all very different in style, but they are the ones that I enjoyed reading the most, the ones where I became lost in the story.
Thank you to Lorraine Mace for asking me to judge the Flash 500 flash competition again and to all the competition entrants who trusted me with their work.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Ten Things You Learned from TikTok While You Waited for Things to Get Better
I loved the originality of this and the title is a really good example of how useful titles can be in flash. I was immediately invested in the story before I’d even started reading and the first line ‘Chickens purr when they are happy’ didn’t disappoint. I galloped through the rest of the flash, re-reading it immediately, then (as I am not a Tik Tok user) I took to google to look up some things about TikTok. The more often I read this flash, the more I found in it to admire.
Time to Go
I’m always a fan of a flash with a good ending and the one in ‘Time to Go’ lands perfectly. Telling the majority of the story in one breathless paragraph works so well for this flash and I was immediately drawn in, unable to stop reading until the phrase ‘but there’s just David holding his coat and staring at the floor with red eyes…’ stopped me momentarily. It was a powerful, grounding moment that increased my understanding and prepared me for the end of the story.
They Probably Think
I enjoyed the confidence of this – the engaging prose that made me read it in one gulp without stopping. There are some lovely details that add to the success of the piece, particularly the descriptions of the food: showers of salt, puddles of muddy gravy, half-eaten lemon cheesecake. I can see the couple staring at their Yorkshire puddings – I’m right there with the writer.