Competiton Three Judges Report by Hazel Turner
It has been a huge privilege to read flash fiction of such quality, thank you so much. Your stories have drawn out a host of emotions in me, take this an accolade to your talents. Choosing a winner from such a strong field was very difficult.
I am a great lover of flash fiction. I find it makes both the writer and the reader work hard to select and interpret each word and phrase in order to do all that a good story should do but in far fewer words. There can be no distractions in flash and there is nowhere to hide!
For me great flash fiction paints a picture of a character that draws in the reader, giving them an understanding of their dilemma and finally leaving them with something that enlightens. All of the short- listed stories did this so well.
Of those that didn’t make the shortlist, I’d particularly like to mention “On the Bench.” Here the writer cleverly used football terminology as the layout and figurative language to effectively tell the story of a wife rising from rags to riches finally realising that she has lost herself.
Also “Re-purposing” a poignant story of a supportive grandad who help his grandchild through life’s ups and downs only to be unable to regroup himself after the loss of his wife. All of this skilfully written in only 100 words.
Now to the five shortlisted stories:
“Halfway up the stairs” In this the writer shows us the pain that Joe is feeling as he waits to hear if his friend has recovered after they had gone against their mothers’ advice and climbed the water tower. I could feel the silence and tension in this piece and knew by the clever ending and link to the title that Joe had grown up during this time and was ready to face the consequences. A lovely touching piece by a writer good at showing the characters emotions through their body language.
“Answers” The character of Sadie in this was clearly drawn as she waited in the queue at the petrol station. I so liked this character who had the ability to overcome her doubts, regain her humour and take life by the horns. The clever wordplay in the ending made me chuckle. A well written story that flowed well.
Of the two highly recommended stories “The Octopus, The leopard and the Lyre,” takes us on a journey of emotions through the eyes of a person who’s partner leaves. This story stayed with me for a time as I unpicked all the layers. I loved the initial hint that all was not well “enough to start the day without thunder.” I ached for this person as they wondered “how long” they’d “slept with the leopard draped over them” The ending summed up the turmoil of emotions. This was a well -constructed, clever take on a popular theme.
“She’ll grow out of it” from the first reading hooked me in. It worked beautifully written in the first person present tense. The simple language endeared me to the character, who took us through the pain of having her Asperger’s traits suppressed. I loved our girl, quirks and all, as she squeezed into her stretchy yellow dress with poppies on. The story flowed well with good pace. Top marks for a brilliant ending leaving the readers heart in bits as we wondered how she would fare.
After reading and re-reading, then going back through the stories before turning in for the night, the one that was there with me first in the morning was, “The last Wolf in Brighton’s in the Prize Booth on the Pier” and so I chose this as the winner.
The story takes us through he and she- two lone wolves, each with different desires. It is a simple story of hope. I was hooked from the intriguing start. We all know characters like this so easily and beautifully depicted. My heart went out to her. “She” was never going to capture her “lone wolf.” Then I came to the end. Wow. A message of unfailing hope so cleverly described. “Always needing just one coin” assured us that she would keep hoping and keep trying and I loved her for that.
Many congratulations to all of you.
Free Flash Fiction would like to say a huge thank you to Hazel for a being a great judge. Read her Competition Two winning story 'I hate windows' here..
And make sure you listen to her read 'A single white rose' here..