I’m a judge for the wonderful Mash Stories, a keyword-based flash fiction competition that focuses on showcasing new talent, and I love it. The ideas, the language, the brilliant pieces — I’m honoured to read our submissions, let alone help decide the winner.
But it’s not all good news and happy faces. I’m a judge, and that title comes with a horrible responsibility: rejecting stories. As I said in my last post, I hate rejecting stories — I’ve been there before myself — but I have to say ‘no’ sometimes. And after six months of dishing out my ‘no’s and ‘yes’es, I’ve got a pretty firm idea of what makes — in my opinion — a good piece of flash fiction. I know what I want to see in a winning story.
And what’s the point of keeping that information to myself?
From titles and last lines to when to submit, I’ve got an insider’s opinion on what makes a short story great. So whether you’re thinking of submitting to Mash or another competition, you were rejected and don’t know why, or you’re just looking for some general writing advice, here are my top tips for snagging a spot on that coveted shortlist — and possibly winning the grand prize, too.
Let’s do this!
(TL;DR? Check the bullet point summary at the end.)