Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Small is big: short fiction writing competition

Flash. Micro. Ultra. Short-short. Smokelong. Sawn-off. Tiny tales of 1,000 words and way less have many monikers and many exponents, plenty of whom are from or who have at some point brought their art to Manchester.

Tonight, for example, sees the city's FlashTag writing collective head up an event as part of Chorlton Arts Festival; their third, in fact. Now a fixture on the incredibly diverse and immense spoken word scene in the city, this soiree offers a fun-filled culmination to an open-submission creative writing competition, with the shortlist of entrants reading their work - with, ultimately, one of them being crowned the winner. In past incarnations, the runners-up have landed in Chorlton from all over the UK, from Bristol to Edinburgh, which just goes to show that the popularity of the short form isn't limited to our city limits. So flash fiction is big business.

There are a couple of ways of looking at flash fiction. The first is treating prose like poetry, in a way. Every word counts, and there are very few words. You could spend days, weeks, months, even years honing a piece of no more than as little as two or three paragraphs that tells a story, complete with beginning, middle and end, and which provides all the plotlines and characters that a much longer piece would offer - the only difference is that it is reduced to an essence; a hard hit, if you like. For others, it's about writing something short and sweet in a matter of minutes or hours; an energetic fizz of putting words on a page, creating something totally of its moment.

It's up to you which you prefer, so we have a challenge for you, and it's up to you to decide which take will impress us the most. We've teamed up with Creative Industries Trafford to run a flash fiction writing competition, the winners of which we will showcase in an event during Manchester Literature Festival 2013, this coming October. And to help you, CIT are running a special flash fiction writing workshop with pioneer of the short form David Gaffney - author of four critically acclaimed micro-fiction collections - on Tuesday 18 June (1-4pm), for just £5. Click here for more details and how to book.

So, to the competition: We are inviting you to create a flash fiction, no longer than 500 words, inspired by the theme of DNA. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix by Francis Crick and James Watson, and we'd love to read your words inspired by the subject, in all genres of fiction - we're thinking creation, mutation, evolution, transformation...

Entry is free and submissions should be sent by email to by 5pm on Monday 16 September.

The winning entries will be featured online during MLF 2013 and short-listed authors will be invited to read their stories at a special event on Saturday 12 October at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, with the overall winner receiving book vouchers worth £50.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this - I hadn't heard about the competition before. I love flash fiction; it's a true art. There's nothing better than reading a full-blown story in less than 1,000 words, and writing flash fiction is just as incredible. It really can take months to hone a perfect story. Excellent post and great news - I'll definitely be entering!

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