**This competition is now closed but you are still welcome to read through the published writing and blog posts. **
Can you write a story under 100 words? Described as a flash in the pan, a story in your pocket, a work of art carved on a grain of rice, flash fiction draws upon the brevity of poetry and the story-arc of a novel.
“There was more room to think,” wrote novelist David Gaffney on becoming a flash fiction convert, “more space for the original idea to resonate, fewer unnecessary words to wade through.” Stories of the sudden/skinny/mini/micro variety pack the best parts of fiction into brimming, half-pint packages. Celebrate the art of concision this month, dear writers, and write a story in 99 words or less.
Don’t sweat the word count (at first).
Write with abandon, letting your story unfurl and wander as necessary. Then, as Gaffney says, start hacking. Clip a sentence here, prune a paragraph there, shaping your story down to its essence.
Narrow your viewfinder.
With just 99 words, flash fiction that focuses on a specific event/experience/memory is often most captivating. May Depth over breadth be your mantra. Rather than including multiple scenes, for instance, give your attention to one dazzling vignette.
Dive into action.
You don’t have time to wax poetic for a paragraph before getting to the heart of your story, so jump into the juicy stuff in your opening lines, sketching in the backstory later if necessary.
Leave breathing room.
Like an iceberg, flash fiction only reveals part of the story. Celebrate the power of suggestion. As you write, ask yourself: What thought or question or feeling will this sentence leave the reader with? How can I open a door without revealing everything on the other side?
A small space doesn’t lend itself to elaborate plots or a cast of characters. But you can create mood. As your narrative develops, step back and consider what feeling you want the story to elicit in your reader, and then choose your words carefully to help conjure that mood. With such a small word count, every single word matters.
Weigh in on the word count.
Your submission must, in its final form, be under 100 words. Cutting down a long draft might sound like an arduous task, but concision will help you hone in on what’s most important and find the most essential story.
99 words, or less.
YA author Lucy Keating
Best Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
Runner up: $50
Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday August 8 and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
August 1: Competition Opens
August 8: Submit draft for Expert Review (optional)
August 11: Reviews returned to Writers
August 16: Final Submissions
August 26: Winners Announced
Book Review Opens Monday, September 5.
Stay tuned for more details!