First of all, a massive thank you to all who entered. Never imagined I’d get as many as twenty-three entries.
More thanks go to Faith Cobaine, who supplied the photograph and the inspiration, and to Stella Turner for keeping me informed of progress, posting the flashes for those who couldn’t and for sending me them to judge.
The Masterpiece by Cathy Lennon has been removed from the competition, due to me being lucky enough to hear her read it on the 14th November at the Write Now story slam in Chorley. She won that competition, reading a slightly longer version of The Masterpiece in the final and receiving a cash prize.
It was hard to decide on my shortlist of seven – I found things to like and admire in all the entries - and even harder to pick the final order. All seven will be mentioned here.
Special mention for ‘Shakespearean Sonnet for a Seaside Statue’ by Sue Denim (No Twitter name. Who is this?)
On the one hand, this is not a flash, on the other hand, I’ve tried and failed at writing a sonnet in the past so I take my hat off to the author. It looks and feels authentic, though I’m no Shakespeare expert. I like the Eric statue in a way I never did like Morecambe & Wise themselves (preferred The Two Ronnies). I see the statue as a separate character, the one who was left just as a foot when someone tried to steal him, the one folk ask for as a stop on the bus and the character I put in my story ‘Eric’s Grand Day Off’, seeing the light very soon.
So I recognise the references in this, which are built into our culture like words running through a stick of rock. It’s cleverly done. I particularly enjoyed the lines …
‘The notes that sounded when a tune thou played
Were all correct, thou said, but might belong
In some order more fittingly arrayed.’
Eric and Stella
Special mention for Mum by Ed Broom
For most original take on the prompt. Of course that’s a municipal Christmas tree! For being funny and for a character who's a very tall woman. Wondering what size feet she has. But she is ‘amazing’ and has totally shown Ryan’s doubting friends.
Honourable Mention for Soul Mates by @firdausp
This is lovely. The idea of hearing your shadow’s smile as ‘a little swish of the lips’ and of it ‘pooling around my feet’. This shadow is perfect, ‘more fluid and graceful’ than its owner, if that’s the right word. The ending is very touching, the shadow ‘spooning me from behind, a reminder that I’m never alone’, and yet, it seems this character is.
Honourable Mention for Woman at Work by Liz Hedgecock
Not always keen on writers in stories but this works rather well. It uses the prompt so effectively and I love the idea of an umbrella being this woman’s – and everybody’s – work.
In Third Place … Squeeze Me I’m Yours by FE Clarke
A flash made up of THIRTY TWO (tell me I’ve got that right!) Squeeze songs is really quite something. Talk about writing for the judge. Because I THINK I may have mentioned Squeeze on Twitter recently. Once or twice. This gets its placing for the research that's clearly been done, (though if I was being Miss Picky I’d say its Last Time Forever not Last Thing Forever), for the utter cheek of it (most of these words were written years ago by Chris Difford), and for ‘Where is my black coffee in bed, labelled with love; where is my slap and tickle?’, which is where I began to laugh out loud.
Me and Squeeze and Slap and Tickle and now a Squeeze flash ... who knew?
In Second Place … The Feel of Rain by Voima Oy
Lovely take on the prompt, with the double meaning of the title. The character comes across brilliantly. Great idea to make her a private detective. The second person point of view works well, like an imaginary conversation with someone you’re watching but can’t show yourself to. Suggestions of backstory though we never find out why she left him.
In First Place … Me and My Shadow by Jacki Donnelan
An original take on the prompt, beautifully written without a single wasted word. I love the concept of sending your ‘bold and poster-sized’ shadow out on a’ first date in real life’ then becoming jealous, changing your mind and lashing out at her and her ‘charcoal perfection’. The denouement is fantastic, as we are left wondering at the nature of that final gasp, pondering what happens next.
Thank you all once again. I am in awe of people who run a comp every week. I know I couldn’t and don’t want to. Just remember, without the three recently lost comps, you can all find flash (and short story and novel) fodder wherever you look. You can write it and submit or enter in any one of a number of comps, possibly winning money and the glory. Many of you can write in genres I cannot begin to understand. Speculative, fantasy, sci-fi and steam punk, whatever that is. Some of you have a miraculous ability to churn out a first draft of 50k in a single month, while doing all the other things you do. Most of you are there congratulating the moment anyone wins something, a thing I struggle to do. And one of you writes and performs very funny poetry, as I discovered recently.
I know it’s good to have short deadlines forced upon you and the instant gratification of comments and placings within a few days and I’ll be the first to admit I have been seduced by this myself in the past couple of years. But flash prompts are EVERYWHERE and YOU have the drive, commitment and ideas to go it alone whenever you have to.
Good Luck and Enjoy!