Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Shortest Story.

This week will see the announcement of the winner of online magazine ‘Fleeting’s six-word short story prize (conducted by Matt Shoard). The competition involves coming up with the most interesting, intriguing and compelling short story, in just six words! Shoard aim’s to find a winning story that will rival the inestimable brilliance of Hemingway’s famous offering ‘For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

In this twitter-age pithiness and lucidity of dialogue is fast replacing the elaborate, wrought discourse of twentieth-century novelists such as Joyce and Lawrence. Shoard’s competition reflects and responds to a growing celebration of the richness of pared back, elided, succinct speech - an awareness which spreads even to fiction.

Although bound by a strict six-word restriction (a limitation which strikes fear into myself as an English student) the submissions are not lacking in richness, variety and interest. Some notable examples include; Dan Brown’s ‘his Russian bride hid others inside’ and my particular favourite, Fran Edney’s ‘Groundhog day. Groundhog day. Groundhog day.’

What is so interesting about the ‘stories’ submitted to Shoard’s competition is their capacity to be read initially as statements. There emerges an infinitesimally thin line between fact and fiction, statement and story, explanation and narrative. I think that it is this liminality which makes the submitted ‘stories’ so interesting and complex. 

Shoard’s competition is encouraging writers to re-describe fiction, to reclaim language in its simplest most direct form, and to create narratives that look to the reader to expand and enrich them. 

As for the short-listed writers, I’ll tell you my own story about them; ‘They came, they wrote, they prospered.’ 

Jessica McKay

1 comment:

  1. Dear Jessica,

    I am writing on behalf of Fleeting to let you know of some exciting changes that have recently taken place. I was delighted to see that you featured one of our competitions on your blog; this is always a welcome boost to our profile.

    We recently relaunched as Fleeting Books, a London-based literary consultancy, with a panel of published authors offering a range of editorial services. Although the name Fleeting Magazine is no longer in use, we continue to publish short fiction and interviews on our new website, which I hope you will enjoy.

    In order to make sure budding writers know exactly where to find us, I am trying to ensure that all online listings for Fleeting are up-to-date. I was therefore wondering if you would be happy to amend any references to Fleeting Magazine to say Fleeting Books. This would be much appreciated, and help avoid future confusion.

    Many thanks in advance for your assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best wishes,

    Charlotte Seymour
    Editorial Assistant

    Fleeting Books | @ThisIsFleeting