Judge: Kit de Waal
The Casket of Fictional Delights runs an annual Flash Fiction Competition. The competition coincides with Get Creative, a nationwide series of events celebrating and supporting everyday creativity. In 2017 the prizewinning novelist, short story and flash fiction writer Kit de Waal chose her favourite stories, which you can listen to on the special competition podcast.
Mam and She Worries by Douglas Bruton
“Mam worries ‘bout stuff. Smallest things sometimes. Like when Mrs Kinnear was having her baby and she was rushed to the daytime hospital and no-one had opened the curtains on Mrs Kinnear’s windows.”…
Kala Pani by Neema Shah
“There was a smidge of Radha in my pocket, a smattering of her on the cruddy wooden deck. I drew the string together and put the cotton bag in my pocket.”…
The Replacement by Zoe Meager
“One year ago, Anne received almost exactly what she wanted for Christmas. It was me. I first detected signs of unease in February. The sideways looks and locked doors.”…
Soiled by Alex Reece Abbott
The Ties that Bind by Gina Headden
Heavyweight Dreams by Louise Mangos
A Womb of One’s Own by Rosie Canning
Checkout Girl by Shirley Golden
Fragile by Shirley Golden
To See a Star by Susan Carey
Flash Fiction is the study of a moment in a much longer narrative. In a few hundred words, the writer must evoke character, place and setting, use dialogue (sometimes) and humour (sometimes), drama (absolutely) and most of all tell us a great story – a story that goes on long after the last word on the page. And every word has to count, every sentence leading seamlessly to a satisfying conclusion.
I’m privileged to have read some excellent flash fiction stories for the Casket of Fictional Delight Flash Fiction Competition 2017.
In third place, ‘The Replacement, what an unusual story and a refreshing read, it’s clever and the pared back unemotional tone perfectly echoes the theme. The ending is very well done,, ‘I will walk the snowy streets and imagine a heart that is full.’
Second is ‘Kala Pani’ perfectly structured, with an excellent sense of place and a lovely twist at the end. ‘My turban tattered in the salt air’ is a very pleasing sentence with real poetry in it.
The winner is ‘Mam and She Worries’. This flash fiction story is very well crafted and a real lesson in voice and characterisation. ‘…from the shape of her, all crumpled and slack, prayer hands folded.’ The point of view of the child in this story is perfect for the theme of bereavement and loss. Beautiful writing that tells us so much in so little space.
The remaining writers I have chosen have all showed great skill and craftsmanship and I would like to mention a further two that deserve to be commended.
‘Soiled’. This heartbreaking story is very, very good, feels authentic and true.
‘Checkout Girl’ deals with almost the same subject of loss and longing and was well thought out and executed.
Well done to all of these talented writers and to everyone who entered.