We’ve started reading theWinter Short Story Contest submissions. We usually wait until the deadline has passed, but we’re nervous of having too much to read to do justice to everyone’s stories, so we’ve made a start.
The first read is really nothing more than getting a feel for the story, the critical assessment as to whether it should go further in the process doesn’t start until the second look.
But seeing these first few pages has reminded us what a privilege it is to be reading the stories at all. Most writers are very choosy about who they show their work to. Some won’t even show their partners. True, sending to a stranger can be a little easier, but that moment can be fraught too. If you’ve ever sent a child off for their first day at kindergarten, to their first step into the world without you being there to explain how they like to be treated, to interpret their little quirks and mannerisms, if you’ve done that, then you have an idea how many writers feel about sending their stories to be read by the jaded eyes of judges and editors.
To those who’ve already sent and to those who have yet to share their stories with us – thank you, we are privileged and will treat your stories with the respect and care that they deserve. They may not be perfect, they may need a comma or two added or subtracted, they may have a typo you missed. It’s OK, we understand, we’re writers too.
The Askance Winter Short Story Competition is now open. There’s no theme, a generous word limit of 1500 to 5000 words, a modest entry fee and prizes for the stories judged as the best three we receive.
If your entries are anything close to the level we usually see in our contests, we’re going to thoroughly enjoy reading them. Judging is always difficult, but we’ll read every story at least twice, and all about-to-be-rejected stories will be read again, just to make sure a quirky gem is not lost.
We were down to twelve, then six, getting more difficult to choose at each stage. Finding the award winners was agonising, but Caroline Jaine has made her decision, and here’s what she has to say about it:
“This was a very difficult decision, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories. Flash fiction is such an inspiring and fitting genre for our times. Although many of the stories were worthy of praise, Paper Leaves stood out for me as the overall winner. The writer seemed entirely at ease with writing in this short form – there was no attempt to pack too much in, either in terms of content or vocabulary – a common mistake. Paper Leaves felt like a delicate gesture, and yet a surprisingly disturbing one – the loss of a tree, which moved me deeply. It wasn’t quite what I expected to find in such a short piece, and there lies the writer’s skill and strength.”
It’s taken a lot of reading and discussion to get there, but finally we’re done. Our 2018 Flash Fiction shortlist looks like this:
Breath Breeze Caffeine Dreams Missing Paper Leaves Stage Notes
Every story has its attractions, there’s perceptive and original writing, new angles on familiar themes. Getting the list down to six has been hard enough, now it’s over to Caroline Jaine for the one-two-three.
All the stories have been a pleasure to read, a privilege to judge. Those not among the finalists can consider themselves unlucky, the difference between being there and not is paper thin. Our new competition opens on December 1st. Send us something irresistible.
Our 2018 Flash Fiction competition has attracted entries from Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA. Thank you! Now we have the pleasure of reading all those little gems. Choosing the eventual finalists looks as if it will be as difficult as ever.
Meanwhile, authors can start flexing their writing muscles for our next competition, details coming in the next few weeks. But it’ll be for short stories this time, again with no theme. Likely opening date will be December 1st with latest entries January 31st. Yes, there will be prizes.
Getting close to having that story polished and ready to send in? Something brand new? Or an old favourite re-worked, distilled to a few hundred words? Either way we’re looking forward to seeing your story before the deadline. Give us something to make us sit up and take notice, give us words that jump off the page.
As we’ve previously announced, Askance’s founder, Caroline Jaine, will make the final selection. Although Caroline is no longer formally connected with Askance, she was delighted to accept the invitation to choose the winners from the shortlist. Caroline is an accomplished artist and writer of short and long fiction in addition to being the author of the widely acclaimed A Better Basra.
Selecting the long and short lists will be two long-time friends of Askance, both skilled in the art of storytelling.
Canadian Grace Keating has written many short stories, winning and being short-listed in competitions in the USA and the UK. Her stories have featured in two anthologies, including Askance’s Positional Vertigo.
David Wiseman is British, although now living in Canada, and has edited Askance’s Homes and Positional Vertigo to which he also contributed. He’s also won and been shortlisted for several competitions in the UK and the USA. Askance has published three of his novels.