Wheeeeeeeeeeeew, what a mad, fiery ride that was! Thank you, thank you, flash writers, for showing up in such huge force to party with us. Your stories amazed, frightened, and delighted our Round 1 judging team, sometimes all at once. It’s with great pleasure we present to you the 25 SEMIFINALISTS who will move on to Round 2. Congratulations to all of you for your marvelous stories and the massive talent that gave rise to them.
How the semifinalists were chosen: At the heart of flash fiction lies story: character and conflict. We wanted more than vignettes, more than character sketches: we wanted the beginning, middle, and end of an adventure. In addition to story, we looked for structural and technical vibrancy: painstakingly chosen verbs and modifiers that breathed life into the piece without sounding painstaking. We watched for stories that ended as strongly as they began, with no literary broccoli stuck in their teeth.
Among your burning entries we read many of the same story told again and again (only natural, since we are all, as far as we know, human). So from those stories we looked for the ones told most sharply, most succinctly, most powerfully, most cleanly. At the same time we found ourselves drawn to tales whose fresh takes and original concepts distinguished them from the others and hooked themselves unabashedly in our (extremely tired now!) little brains.
Sounds like an impossible proposition, doesn’t it, for a single story to accomplish all those things? But ohhh, dearests, you did it time and again for this contest. So many dozens, in fact well over a hundred, gorgeous tales, each worthy of an award in its own right. You knocked our dragony socks off. (Don’t laugh; Rebekah’s pink dragony socks are stunning.)
For those of you not chosen as semifinalists: Take courage, dragonhearts. This decision reflects the opinions of one judge team on one day and is a judgment of a group of stories and NOT of a group of writers. Cling to that difference! Look instead to the words of your fellow writers, who have left such love all over your hard work. Remember that your voice matters; anyone saying differently is lying. And once you’ve reread the comments on your story, dust off your laptop and start fresh this Friday, when our Year 3 kicks off with an all-new format and brand new panel of talented judges. Lastly: please accept our thanks. We are so very indebted to you and are profoundly grateful for your array of writerly awesomeness that pushes all of us to be better writers every day. Thank you.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW: SEMIFINALISTS ONLY: If your name is listed here, your new prompt is below. You have 48 hours (until noon Tuesday, Washington DC time) to add your new story in the comments section of this post. Your Round 2 story AND your story from Round 1 will compete for a spot among the 10 finalists, which will be announced on Wednesday, Dec 10. The 10 finalists’ entries will then be submitted to the Flash Fiction Online team where the overall winners will be determined.
And now here are the 25 semifinalists, in alphabetical order by story title. Be sure to read their awesome tales. PLEASE ALSO leave comments on the semifinalists’ entries as they are posted these next two days. Cheer on your favorites!
THANK YOU, FLASH! FRIDAY COMMUNITY, and congratulations to the top 25!
A Shadow in the Blackness, @chriswhitewrites
Born to Burn, @blukris Chris Milam
Burning Away Sin, Carin Marais
Burning Question, Eliza Archer
Cardinal Spark, Brady Koch
Enough, Emily June Street
Escalation, Alissa Leonard
Fire With Fire, Nancy Chenier
For He’s a Jolly Good Dragon, Bart van Goethem
Friendship, Sarah @FictionasLife
Fury, Marie McKay
Incendiary, DJ Chapman
It’s Life, and Life Only, @Lloydyes
Let Sleeping Dragons Lie, Matt Lashley
Maggie’s Left Hand, Betsy Streeter
Memories Ignite, Grace Black
Pyromaniac, Peg Stueber
The Fire This Time, Maggie Duncan
The Runner, MJ Kelley
To the Victors, MT Decker
Too Little, Too Late, Casey Rose Frank
Untitled. “Burn,” they cried…, Karen Ruhleder
Untitled. “Grandfather said…”, Katie Morford
Untitled. “Shame burns…”, Kim Perry
Whether I Will or No, Catherine Connolly
Round Two Word Count: Anything between 150 and 500. Yes, you heard right. Minimum 150, max 500. Let your story dictate the length.
How to Enter: Post your entry (one per semifinalist) here in the comments. Include your word count (between 150 – 500, exclusive of title/byline) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one (if not, be sure to link your email address or some way for us to contact you). Be sure to proofread; once your entry is submitted, no changes/corrections are able to be made. Your stories are again being judged blind.
ROUND TWO SUBMISSION WINDOW: From 12:00pm (noon) Sunday, Dec 7, until 12:00pm (noon) Tuesday, Dec 9 Washington, DC time (48 hours).
**And now for your Round Two prompt!**
Where the Round 1 prompt spoke of destruction and chaos, our Round 2 prompt looks toward hope and possibility. What light shines at the end of the tunnel (besides an oncoming train, obv)? Now: (read the rules and) HAVE AT IT! (*Note* the prompt is the photo alone, not the intro. Maybe your light is an oncoming train!)