When does failing to win a competition have its up side?
Well, let’s be honest, winning is best – but failing that, being introduced to some fantastic new writing is a close second – particularly when it comes with some great advice.
This year’s InkTears Flash Fiction Competition attracted around 400 entries, so I was thrilled when my story ‘Coffee’ was long listed. It didn’t make the final winners’ list but reading some of the stories by previous winners has been an eye opener in terms of the quality and sophistication of the flash out there. Plus, I picked up some great advice from last year’s winner Ingrid Jendrzejewski who said: ‘Cut. Stuff. Out. Then cut out some more. Quite often, the beginning and end are the first things that need to go. Most explanations can go. When you think you’ve cut out enough, read the story aloud until you find more things that need to go and cut them too. Then, put the thing in a drawer for a couple of weeks. When you finally take it out again, try to find at least one more thing to cut.’
InkTears is one of the best online short fiction literary magazines, running both an annual short story and flash fiction competition, and featuring both modern and classic writers. Contributors include Tania Hershmann and Nicolas Royle. If you are interested in short and flash fiction you can sign up free of charge and have a new story land in your inbox each month.