Abandoned Themed Flash Longlist

Abandoned Themed Flash Longlist

Thank you to everyone that entered. We received 172 entries this time, and enjoyed reading each one.

Congratulations to everyone whose story appears on our longlist. If your story appears below, please don’t tell us as we’re still reading anonymously!

  1. A Space in my Heart
  2. An Alternative History of Curses and Serpents
  3. Cessation
  4. Connections
  5. Distant Sounds
  6. Dover Beach
  7. Echo
  8. Flight
  9. For Alfred
  10. Full Moon
  11. It’s My Skin
  12. It Was the Horse That Killed Her
  13. Learning to Count
  14. No More Towns or Mountains
  15. No Room for Error
  16. On the Way
  17. Sea Shanty
  18. She Didn’t Look Back
  19. Six Things I Abandoned by the Time I Was 31
  20. Skógafoss
  21. Space Raiders
  22. The Artist
  23. The Bunker
  24. The Disappearing Act
  25. The Dog With No Name
  26. The Foundling
  27. The Mortal Air
  28. The Rotting
  29. The Thoughts That Matter
  30. The Value of Things
  31. The Weight of Silence
  32. Two Selves

***

We’ll announce the shortlist by the end of May. In the meantime, for more flash fun, check out our upcoming quarterly flash competition here. The deadline’s 28th June, so there’s plenty of time to get writing!

Writing an Award Winning Novella-in-Flash

Somewhere between the linear narrative and the post-postmodern fracturing of narrative, there might be a third way, dependent on its brevity as its primary descriptor… Rusty Barnes

As we know, the short form is a great medium to experiment with as it has the art of brevity and flexibility on its side. What might become insistent or annoying in longer forms – multiple perspectives, unusual point-of-view, poetic language – in small doses can be refreshing and entertaining.  Techniques such as collage, association, counterpointing are all devices that really come into their own when putting together a novella-in-flash and I think the opening of Meg Pokrass’s essay in The Rose Metal Press publication (2014) My Very End of the Universe focusing on the study of the form is excellent in illustrating the process of writing in this genre:

‘If you ask an artist who creates crazy quilts how they come up with their designs, that artist will likely tell you that each finished project originates from an emotional place. Each quilt is different because it is made of many found scraps and pieces of cloth in different sizes with no regular colour or pattern—the sleeves of an old work shirt, perhaps, or the skirt of a wedding dress. Similarly, the writing of a novella-in-flash involves working with flash fiction fragments and stories by linking them together to form a layered, narrative arc. Working in both art forms demands an improvisational spirit. regarding the creation of both content and structure. A novella-in-flash writer and a crazy quilt artist both become familiar with navigating incompletion and juxtaposition. Both art forms involve delving into the most unlikely places and finding pieces which, when put together, create an untraditional whole’.

 

Meg talks about reviving and re-visioning narratives that were gathering dust in a ‘metaphorical scrap bag’ and this seems to be something that many novella-in-flash-writers start out doing – taking pieces that haven’t worked out on their own and finding that they were all along, part of a bigger picture. Moral of this – never throw any writing away! In my case, I started out with a clear plan of what I wanted to do but thought it would be a simple short story about a stonemason who fell off a church steeple and the consequences of this accident for his family. This was a true story about my neighbour and I quickly wrote myself into a corner with it, due perhaps to trying to cling to the biographical details which is always a risk.

When we try to stay ‘true’ to the facts we tend to not see what the story needs. Luckily Flash was there to help me. As an exercise, I stepped out of his narrative arc and imagined all the other people involved, collating little stories about them and experimenting with point of view. It soon came to light that the story wasn’t about the father, but the daughter and interestingly although she became the protagonist, the story arc changed depending on what flash was placed next to another flash.

This idea of juxtaposition is interesting and I soon learnt that in a work of art everything is laden with affect, and whenever you put two of anything together, a third thing emerges. Importantly, the things that logic would normally try to keep separate the writer brings together. It is very liberating to work in this way and was a sort of epiphany for me. It is my belief that there are two components necessary for our growth as writers. The first is our ability to access the unconscious, and the second is our willingness to take risks. Risk taking and experimentation allow us to bring something fresh to our practice, preventing us writing the same thing over and over again – pushing the boundaries of our craft and the richness of our stories.

So here is a little exercise you can do to try out your novella-in-flash muscles and to give you an idea of how fun it can be to make a patchwork flash. I can’t take credit for it – this is an exercise created by that great Flash Maker, Randall Brown.

 

Preparing for Counterpointed Flash

 

  1. Take the structure – A-B-A-B-A-B Choose how many short pieces you want. Here I suggest 6 each of 250 words.
  2. A (one thing) / B (another thing)
  3. Options are unlimited for As and Bs
  4. A is fiction; B is nonfiction (or vice-versa); both are fiction/cnf; parallel events; and so on.
  5. Dissimilarity adds tension (how will these two things ever come together is a question that will raise expectation for the reader)

Try this:

  1. Images/words from A begin to seep into B, more and more
  2. The final section might be AB
  3. Where this juxtaposition of A/B leads us becomes “shattering”
  4. We would not have arrived there with A alone or B alone
  5. A surprising, profound meaning has been figured out by the end.

 

Join Amanda and myself for a weekend of interactive, supportive flash writing on the Flash Weekender from April 17th -19th. Then we have a 2 weekend Memoir-in-Flash course from May 8th – 10th and May 15th – 17th. We then have a month of wonderful prompts for the whole of June in our first Micro Fiction Month!

Mary-Jane Holmes has work included in The Best Small Fictions Anthology in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Her microfiction has recently been included in Best Microfictions 2020. A twice nominated Forward Prize nominee and Hawthornden Fellow, Mary-Jane has won The Bath Novella-in-Flash Prize 2020, the Bridport, Martin Starkie, Dromineer, Reflex Fiction and Mslexia Flash Fiction prize, plus the  International Bedford Poetry competition.

She has been shortlisted and commended for many more including the Beverley International Prize for Literature 2020, The Troubadour and Oxford Brookes Poetry prize 2019. She was long-listed for the National Poetry Prize in 2020. Mary-Jane’s debut poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass is published by Pindrop Press. She enjoys teaching creative writing both online and in person (when possible) around the world. She holds an Mst (distinction) in Creative Writing from Kellogg College Oxford and is currently working on a PhD at Newcastle University. @emjayinthedale  www.mary-janeholmes.com

 

February 2020 Micro Fiction Longlist

Thank you to Ali Thurm for providing this month’s brilliant prompt! Retreat West Books will publish Ali’s debut novel One Scheme of Happiness on 27th February. You can pre-order your copy here or find out more about her unsettling tale of uneasy friendships on our website here.

We received our highest ever number of entries (130) and so the winner will receive an equally impressive £260, in additional to a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

The final ten will be published next Monday with public voting opening at the same time.

All readings and votes are anonymous so writers if you are on this longlist, please do not tell anyone which story is yours.

Thank you to all who submitted and congrats if you made the longlist!

Longlist:

  • A Point of Light
  • A Warning to Those At Sea
  • An Unusual Holiday Let Opportunity
  • Anyer Lighthouse
  • Betrayal
  • Change, Rising Fair
  • Chiaroscuro
  • For mother
  • For the Drowned
  • Goodbye to all that
  • Incantation
  • Incubus
  • Into the Light
  • It Is Water
  • Kopu Lighthouse
  • Letting Go
  • Lookout
  • Mad, Sad or Bad?
  • Nothing Lasts
  • Pharos
  • Quicksand
  • Safe Passage
  • Salt Kiss
  • See The Light
  • Shaken Houses
  • Significant Notes on Lighthouses
  • Smeaton’s Tower Ten O’Clock
  • Standing into Danger
  • Tending the Light
  • The Banshee’s Daughter
  • The Dimming Light
  • The Last of the Lighthouse Keepers
  • The Lighthouse
  • The Lighthouse Keepers Wife
  • The Tyrant
  • The Walrus
  • To rent: Repurposed Lighthouse
  • Together Again
  • Walking in the Steps of Another
  • Wreckers

Enjoying our Flash Fiction comps? Check out our new Flash Fiction Memberships, tailored to suit the flashing enthusiast. And as an added bonus, sign up in January and you will receive our entire back catalogue in ebook free of charge!

January 2020 Micro Fiction Longlist

Thank you once again to Susmita Bhattacharya for providing this month’s prompt. You can read Susmita’s stories in two of our anthologies: Nothing Is As It Was and our latest charity anthology, No Good Deed.

We received 85 entries so the winner will receive £170 and a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

The final ten will be published next Monday with public voting opening at the same time.

All readings and votes are anonymous so writers if you are on this longlist, please do not tell anyone which story is yours.

Thank you to all who submitted and congrats if you made the longlist!

Longlist:

  • A Birthday Wish
  • An Exquisite Pain
  • But I’m…
  • Button, Shell, Cork
  • Diary Entry: The Presents Keep Coming
  • Disappointment tastes sweet like sugar
  • Forgive Me Father For I Have…
  • Frosting Trails
  • Fury
  • Hide and Seek
  • Monochrome Memories
  • Negative
  • Playthings
  • Prayer Alone Isn’t Enough
  • Safety in Numbers
  • Sweet Dreams
  • The Destiny of Cake
  • The Making of a Monster
  • Unlit Candles
  • When the last Flame is Blown
  • White Wedding

Enjoying our Flash Fiction comps? Check out our new Flash Fiction Memberships, tailored to suit the flashing enthusiast. And as an added bonus, sign up in January and you will receive our entire back catalogue in ebook free of charge!

November 19 Micro Fiction Longlist

Thank you once again to Joanna Campbell for providing this month’s prompt. You can read Joanna’s stories in our three annual anthologies: What Was Left, Impermanent Facts, and Future Shock. As well as in No Good Deed, our charity anthology published on 7th November 2019.

We received 95 entries so the winner will receive £190 and a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

The final ten will be published next Monday with public voting opening at the same time.

All readings and votes are anonymous so writers if you are on this longlist, please do not tell anyone which story is yours.

Thank you to all who submitted and congrats if you made the longlist!

Longlist:

  • A Journey Through Lung Cancer Distilled into a Hundred Carefully Chosen Words and Silences
  • Bearings
  • Empty
  • Eradicating Common Pests
  • Escape
  • Fire Ants
  • For I’m the Tip of His Long White Cane
  • Frayed
  • Freckles
  • Going the Distance
  • Greased Lightning
  • Here, in the field
  • Hinterland
  • In the Silence
  • Intersect
  • Life Bearings
  • Lost
  • Lost and Found
  • Lost in America
  • Lost in the Fog
  • Make or Break Getaway
  • Man’s Best Friend
  • Never Fall for a Weather God
  • Repair
  • Save the Bears
  • Sunday Morning in the Neighborhood
  • Sweet and Cool
  • The Lighthouse
  • The Lights
  • The Way Home
  • Vessel
  • What we lose
  • You Always Loved the Circus

Enjoying our Flash Fiction comps? Check out our new Flash Fiction Memberships, tailored to suit the flashing enthusiast.

October 19 Micro Fiction Longlist

First off, thank you to Sophie Jonas-Hill for her mystical artwork. Sophie is a writer and illustrator, and Retreat West Books will be publishing her forthcoming Unprotected in November. You can follow her on Twitter.

We received 104 entries so the winner will receive £208 and a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

The final ten will be published next Monday with public voting opening at the same time.

All readings and votes are anonymous so writers if you are on this longlist, please do not tell anyone which story is yours.

Thank you to all who submitted and congrats if you made the longlist!

Longlist:

  • A Family Portrait
  • A Hallowe’en Surprise
  • Ash and cinder
  • Bare Trees
  • Black Swan
  • Chimera
  • Computer-in-Chief
  • Disquiet
  • In His Mind, Autumn
  • In Search of Alice
  • Invisible
  • Life Abound
  • Lonely Mother
  • Notes
  • Payback
  • Reflections on Alice
  • The BaoBhan Sith
  • The Fate of Small Creatures
  • The Lake
  • The Lepus Hadn’t Come
  • The Meeting
  • The Test
  • Turning Mermaid
  • Uncharted
  • Visiting Home
  • When the Party’s Over
  • Without You

Enjoying our Flash Fiction comps? Check out our new Flash Fiction Memberships, tailored to suit the flashing enthusiast.