Short Fiction

Contest Wins and Finalist Entries

I frequently enter flash fiction contests. I find that it is great practice. You learn what words matter and what is story and what is just fluff. I love fluff, but like marshmallows, while yummy, fluff only expands your waist line.

Most of the time, I don’t even get a mention, not a passing snap of the shark’s jaws (we Reiders often refer to Janet Reid, literary agent extraordinaire as “The Shark” or as she is known in most circles QOTKU (the Queen of the Known Universe). I wrote two entries for her flash fiction contests that I am particularly proud of. One which won and I doubt I will ever be able to top, but there is nothing like a very high standard to improve your craft.

Winning Entry Janet Reid Flash Fiction Contest Nov 9, 2015

This entry was 100 word flash fiction contest. The five prompt words were

train, crime, ruffian, bake, bar

Entry- The Train

(5) E.M.Goldsmith 11:53pm

The train was full to bursting. Tickets were a bargain, given for the least of crimes, an accident of birth. A utopia on rails as every man, women, and child, ruffian or respectable, were given equal accord.

Bakers, candlestick makers, and artisans were stripped of possession as each exchanged a name for a number. Ash fell like Hell’s snow at the destination platform.

“You get used to the stench,” the captain said.

“There are so many of them,” the boy said, clipboard ready.

The captain appraised him as he brushed yesterday’s arrivals from his uniform jacket. “There’s room until tomorrow.”

Janet’s comments are below
This entry is breathtaking.

There’s no emotion in the story: that’s left to the reader to provide.
And there’s nothing overtly horrifying, except when you get to the end and realize where this is set, and what it’s about.  
It requires the reader to bring something to the story much like Donnaeve’s entry did.
It’s subtle but has the impact of a sledgehammer.
This entry is perfection.

Almost – Finalist Entry

Finalist entry Nov 2, 2015 – Flash Fiction

The prompt words this week were lesson, bag, exit,snack, remains

The Entry – Only Son

(6) E.M. Goldsmith 7:17am

The morning news is plague in Middle East.
“Take out the garbage,” I tell my son.
“Yes, father.”
“Did you do your lessons?”
“Yes, dad.”
Exit is backed up. We’re late.
By lunch plague creeps into Europe.
“Want to give blood for plague victims?” I ask.
“Sure, dad. Whatever you want.”
My son smiles at needle and nurse.
He shares his snack.
Night falls. Plague is everywhere.
“His blood is the cure,” the doctor claims.
Relief.
“We need all of it.”
My son or the world? Oblivious, the world rejoices.
All that remains is a cross marking my son’s sacrifice.

Janet Reid’s comments

Well, that one just left me speechless.

The ending obviously makes us gasp, but the reason it works
so well is that heartbeat rhythm of the prose. There’s nothing
extra here…like there was no extra blood.
It taps into a primal fear without the reader noticing, until
it’s too late.
This is very, very good writing.