At our last meeting on 7 September we welcomed (once again) Roberta Dewa who had been busy sifting through the 67 entries of the Flash Fiction competition and was ready to unveil the winners.

As well as the three prize-winners, there were three commended entries:

  • New Shoes” by J.W. Davies of Hessle, East Yorkshire, which was unusual but effective in being written entirely in dialogue
  • This Time” by Jackie Leitch of Fosseway Writers, which Roberta described as a splendid example of ‘showing not telling’
  • Waiting” by Catherine Wells, Isle of Arran, which audaciously managed to encompass three time periods in just 100 words

All of the top stories showed thinking out of the box and the winners in particular made use of vivid visual imagery.

  • 3rd place: “Barn Owl” by Diane Jackman, Diss, Norfolk

Roberta said that this was an evocative piece which made good use of contrasting imagery between boy and owl

  • 2nd place: “Merlin” by Paul Mein, Southwell, Nottinghamshire

Paul made use of poetic devices, taking up the grey ground between poem & prose. Roberta praised his beautiful use of words

  • 1st place: “Lady in Waiting” by Jo Carr, Great Ellingham, Norfolk

A shorter & simpler piece, Roberta said that it used few words to conjure wonderful and memorable imagery.

Copies of the winning entries will be posted on our site soon.

Roberta also gave a general overview of the competition entrants along with useful Roberta Dewaadvice. Firstly, there is no need to take it up to 100 word maximum; much like the speed limit it is a threshold, not a target. Every word should count – if you can take it out and not lose impact you probably don’t need it. Many entrants focused on the pay-off, a clever punch line, but Roberta likes David Gaffney’s work on flash fiction (click here for The Guardian’s interview with David and his top tips). Writers should aim for a flash of imagery, a moment in time caught in words.

Many stories had twists at the end (such as the protagonist turning out to be an animal rather than human) but Roberta warned that these have to be done very, very well. Due to the topic of the competition being “Waiting” there were numerous appearances of elements such as childbirth and death.

The winners were all stories that stayed with Roberta, being good examples of ‘showing, not telling’ and she noted that it is actually shorter to do so which makes it ideal for flash fiction.

Overall Roberta found it a very enjoyable task and was delighted with the quality of the stories. We were fortunate enough to have two of the prize winners with us at Knights Court (Diane and Paul) and they, along with Roberta, read out the winning entries.

The second part of the evening was given over to the group’s AGM. Both Jackie and Diane stepped down from Chair and Programme Secretary, respectively, after many years serving on the committee together. After the officer reports were concluded a presentation was made, arranged by Brenda on behalf of the other members, to thank Jackie and Diane for all of their tireless work. They will still be members of the group and hopefully be able to devote more time to writing than administration!

The new committee was announced, with Nick Rowe as Chair, Andy and Sue Vickers as Joint Programme Secretary, Barbara Hatton as General Secretary, Brenda Millhouse staying as Treasurer and Linda Cooper as a further member.

Our next dates are as follows:

  • 21 September: informal meeting, topic: “Man in a van”
  • 5 October: Historical Fiction with Claire Harvey
  • 2 November: Fiction Competition results with Alex Davis
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4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: winners & tips

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