Two Upcoming Flash Fiction Contest Deadlines: Fineline (June 1) and Crazyshorts (July 31)

Hey writers, it's that time again. The Mid-American Review's Fineline Competition deadline is almost here! The website seems kind of messed up so I've copied the text from it here:

Fineline Competition

The Fineline Competition for Prose Poems, Short Shorts and Anything in Between

Fineline 2016 entries now accepted!

Final Judge: Matt Bell
First Prize: $1,000 and publication in MAR Volume XXXVII, Number 1.
Ten finalists: Notation and possible publication

Contest Deadline is June 1, 2016. Contest is for previously unpublished work only—if the work has appeared in print or online, in any form or part, or under any title, or has been contracted for such, it is ineligible and will be disqualified. There is a 500-word limit for each poem or short. A $10 entry fee (payable online for online submissions, or check or money order made out to Mid-American Review for submissions by post) is required for each set of three prose poems/short short stories. Entry fees are non-refundable. All participants will receive Mid-American Review v. XXXVII, no. 1, where the winners will be published. Submissions will not be returned. Manuscripts need not be left anonymous. Contest is open to all writers, except those associated with the judge or Mid-American Review, past or present. Our judge’s decision is final.

Note: All pieces submitted in verse form—i.e., poetry with line breaks—will be automatically disqualified, as will previously published work or pieces over 500 words.

For online submissions and online payment, please use our Submissions Manager.


Also, coming up this summer is Crazyhorse's flash fiction contest which opens on July first:


Complete a Piece Saturday: An Occasion, a Phrase and a Character

Complete a Piece Saturday!

For today's piece we'll again put together a complete piece in a roundabout way. We'll pick an occasion, a phrase and a character, and for each of these things we'll write a series of lines or sentences that are unrelated to the others. This is a sort of guided brainstorming exercise if you will.

A) Pick an occasion from the following list (or use a random number generator):

  1. Birthday
  2. Going away party
  3. Wedding
  4. A Christmas party
  5. A 20 year high school reunion
  6. A SCUBA excursion on vacation
1) Write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that pertain to either decorations or gear related to the occasion.
2) Write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that describe clusters of people as different types of animals.
3) Write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that describe various ways someone might combat or embrace beginning to feel sleepy at your chosen occasion.
4) Write three sentences or poetic lines or phrases that describe the invitation or promotional material for the occasion.

B) Pick two phrases or bits of dialog from the following list (or use a random number generator):
  1. Skipping stones across still water.
  2. "We grew out of once upon a time a decade ago."
  3. "There used to be plenty of fish in the sea."
  4. She was a shaken beer ready to pop.
  5. "I said go left then right and you turned around and shoved your head up your butt."
  6. Feeding frenzy
  7. Go out on a limb
  8. Hit the hay
  9. Stealing your thunder
  10. "Why oranges?"
1) Write a five dialog responses to each of your phrases or quotes (if you are responding to a non-quote, imagine the phrase is a question)
2) Rephrase each of your phrases or bits of dialog in three different ways: a) more poetic, b) as concisely as possible, c) as something shouted in anger
3) For each of the ten possible phrases or bits of dialog write a response that questions the veracity or profundity (or meaning) of the phrase/line.
4) From your two phrases or bits of dialog combine the words (as many as you can and still make sense) and create at least three new phrases/lines.

C) Pick two character traits or an aspect of their looks from the following list (or use a random number generator):
  1. Long bangs (hair)
  2. Very talkative when drunk or nervous
  3. A pair of fifteen year old Chuck Taylor's they always wear
  4. Frequently thirsty
  5. Unable to hide boredom during small talk
  6. An excellent piano player
  7. A terrible but enthusiastic singer
  8. Frequently self-deprecating
  9. Missing a finger
  10. Very interested in history
  11. Very interested in movies
  12. Loves playing the lottery
  13. Vegetarian
  14. A pierced lip
  15. Frequently makes up stories about themselves
1) For each of your traits write three different ways someone could observe those particular things: a) that it is intriguing, b) that it is silly/stupid, c) that it is 'old news'/boring
2) For each of your traits write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that explain why that trait is as it is (why they're interested in history, or they still wear the same shoes)
3) Pick two of the sentences/lines/phrases from #2 and expand them to 3-5 lines/sentences. Include at least two senses
4) Pick a third trait and write two 'origin stories' for it like you did in #2
5) Find a way in which the three traits/aspects of appearance could all come together in a single interaction between two people. Write a sort of summary of this interaction.

Putting it Together

So, now you have a nice pool of sentences/lines. Go through and pick your favorite 5-10 and put them all near each other. Pick as many as you can that seem to fit with each other and use those pre-written bits as guideposts for your piece. Now write a story or poem about an incident at your chosen occasion involving a character with your chosen traits and including the chosen line of dialog or idiom.


Three things exercise: Basil (herb), A Douglas Fir Tree, Big League Chew

For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:

Basil (herb), A Douglas Fir Tree, Big League Chew

For instance, it could be a story about a child playing wiffleball in the snowy front yard on December 23rd while their mom prepares a spaghetti dinner and their dad is rearranging the lights on their christmas tree when something jarring happens.


Three things exercise: A piece of Sidewalk Chalk, A Fireman's Pole, A Tourniquet

For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:

A piece of Sidewalk Chalk, A Fireman's Pole, A Tourniquet. 

For instance, you could write a short story that has a narrative about a child drawing a firehouse (and its pole) on a sidewalk being bitten by a rattlesnake and having a tourniquet applied on the way to the hospital. Now, that is just a narrative, once you have the events, think of themes or ideas that might fit it, or perhaps a b-storyline. For that narrative, perhaps the mother is inside talking on the phone about not needing to call the exterminator because the gopher problem seemed to have disappeared. Then in editing you have a little more to work with when really finding your footing in the story. 

Or maybe you could write a lyric poem that paratactically links childhood via drawing fantasies on sidewalk to be washed away, to sliding down a fireman's pole into a burning room, and a tourniquet likened to the passage of time. But, you know, with more stuff and stuff.









Complete a Piece Saturday: Person Place and Thing

For today's Complete a Piece Saturday exercise we'll do a few exercises and then utilize a set of three nouns as major aspects of a story or poem.

1) Pick four ride types from this list of kinds of popular carnival rides, imagine or recall a ride of that type and write three sentences for each one: one in which a character rides the ride, one in which the ride is being described from the point of view of someone scared of it, and one in which the ride is being described by someone neither impressed nor scared by the ride. (12 lines/sentences total)

2) Imagine a scenario where one teenager/kid/adult is attempting to impress another. Write six lines of dialog that correspond with the following reactions:

  • a) Unimpressed 
  • b) Unimpressed and annoyed 
  • c) Slightly amused and annoyed
  • d) Impressed and forward about it
  • e) Impressed but coy
  • f) Not even paying attention at all. 
(6 lines/sentences total)

3) From synonyms for Motion, Sick and Jarring pick four words that stick out to you as interesting/unique and use each of those words in two sentences, do your best to use the words in different contexts/uses. (8 sentences/lines total)

4) Dodging questions. It should only take like 4-5 minutes to read and absorb this Business Insider article about dodging questions. Use tactics from the article to imagine 4 sentences in which a character is dodging something or another. (4 lines/sentences total)


Now you have a series of sentences/lines to hone and make better. Take five minutes now to read back over what you've written. if you're actually writing these circle/star the best ones. If you're doing this on a computer, copy/paste your favorites under a header "favorites" or something. "Keepers" or "OK" or "F-Yeah Lines" works as well, whatever your level of enthusiasm. Tighten them up a bit. Why not. Save the originals, but try to cut 15% of the words from each one. Rephrase for the best words possible. Make sure all descriptions carry actual description and when it's possible, subtext. Sometimes that means words that convey a lot of information, sometimes it means words that convey very specific information. Keep those in mind, and try to use them in your piece.

5) Write a story or poem that uses the following three things:

  • a) Person: A second-grade teacher near the end of their rope.
  • b) Place: The carnival on its last night in a small town.
  • c) Thing: A Pair of Scissors.

Now, how you utilize those nouns is entirely up to you, but you have a number of lines to work with, you have a character and a place you've already been meditating on. Make it happen. I like to set a phone timer for 25 minutes. When the alarm hits I snooze, and in that five minutes wrap the story or poem up, and if I have time, go over it briefly for quick edits while the idea is fresh, yet complete.

If you really wanna be awesome, pick a time for this to occur and throw in some timely (heh) references without being too 'on the nose' about it. As in, don't have characters say "Isn't it weird they approved NAFTA last week?" unless it may come up in conversation organically because of character traits. Heck, maybe you're a contrarian like me, and because I wrote that line of dialog you're determined to use it, and goll-darnit, you'll make it work. I appreciate that a lot.



Ekphrastic Tuesday with Igor Morski

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

by Igor Morski