(b)OINK Flash Fiction Contest with Guest Judge Kathy Fish
- 6/15/17 — 8/15/17
- $5.00 submission fee.
- 500 words or less.
- Please enter original work only.
- Any theme.
- DO NOT add your name on the piece.
- NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS, please.
- Multiple submissions are okay.
Read all past issues of (b)OINK for our aesthetics.
1st place: $100.00
2nd place: $50.00
3rd Place: $25.00
Winners announced 9/1/17.
q&a with (b)OINK Flash Fiction Contest Judge Kathy Fish
You judge a lot of contests and teach several workshops each year. Are there any mentors or writers whom you reference in your classes?
I’m always changing up my reading recommendations to include by my standbys (Myfanwy Collins, Lydia Copeland Gwyn, Jeff Landon, Kim Chinquee, Pia Ehrhardt, Chad Simpson, etc.) But when I see a newly published story that I love, that demonstrates something I’m trying to teach, I’ll reference that as well, such as recent stories/terrific flashes by Megan Giddings and Ashley Hutson.
The writers in my workshop are so brilliant and doing such amazing things. I always feel like I’ll be recommending their stories to future students.
We all read a ton and discover writers we admire. What is it about a new writer you are blown away by that reaches you?
Innovation. A strong voice. Emotional depth. I see newer flash writers doing the most daring, experimental work, but if their work also reaches me emotionally, I become a true fan and seek out everything they write.
What is your favorite kind of flash fiction to read? Any examples?
I really like all kinds. I love a beautifully conveyed moment, with simple language, and emotional depth as much as I love quirky, experimental flash fiction. My favorite flashes are extra short (usually one paragraph) and emotionally evocative, with beautiful language. I guess that’s why I keep coming back to Lydia Copeland Gwyn. Here is her story, “Cotton,” from New World Writing. I’ve read it probably fifty times and I’m always blown away.
What are some of the comparisons to other genres that might apply to a flash piece?
Well, you know that flash and prose poetry are often compared as you teach hybrid work. I do think poets write the best flash fiction. And the form of flash, its condensed, concise nature, can be applied to creative nonfiction and memoir. I love flash memoir. It tends to force out some of the editorializing or rumination of typical memoir to give just these very vivid, potent pieces of a life. We work with memories in my workshop, usually from day one, focusing on sensory detail, and the resulting stories are always breathtaking.
(b)OINK is asking contest submissions to be 500 words or less. Do you have any suggestions when it comes to word limits or concision?
First, you can always cut something. There is always excess verbiage to be rooted out. Things that can easily go are conversational asides (you know what I’m talking about?), what I call “trailing off” at the end of sentences where you bury and diminish the strongest word or image. Cut those extra four or five words.
Most of the time the word “that” can be eliminated.
Severely cut back on anything that looks like an explanation. Use of minimum of backstory.
Cut adjectives that don’t do much. Natalie Goldberg says, “Don’t marry the fly,” meaning, don’t dwell on something just because your descriptive powers happen to be on overdrive. Show us the fly and move on.
Almost always, you can begin further down the page and end further up. If you’re really over the word limit, be bold, cut your first and last paragraph. See if the story still works or if you can get away with just a few words where you had a paragraph before.
Finally, what are you currently working on?
The first half of 2017 has been very teaching heavy! I just finished my last workshop until fall. I’m taking the next several weeks off to focus just on my own writing. I have many new drafts to polish with an eye to a new collection at some point. I keep adding notes to a “how to” book on flash that draws from my workshops.
Thanks so much, Kathy, for judging our inaugural (b)OINK Flash Fiction contest. It’s such an honor to have you in the family.
Thanks for asking me! I’m honored and excited to read the stories!
Kathy Fish teaches flash fiction for the Mile High MFA program at Regis University in Denver. She has published four collections of short fiction: a chapbook in the Rose Metal Press collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008); Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011); Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012); and Rift, co-authored with Robert Vaughan (Unknown Press, 2015). Several of her stories have been chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50. Her story, “Strong Tongue,” was chosen by Amy Hempel for Best Small Fictions 2017 (Braddock Avenue Books). She blogs here.