Flash Fiction Contest

Barbara S. Ponce Public Library's
2020 Flash Fiction Contest

Purpose

2020 has been a rough year for many in Pinellas County, Florida, including creative people. As stress grows, inspiration dries up and motivation grinds to a halt. If you express your creativity through writing, you may be finding it difficult to keep your mind on writing when any possible payoff seems far in the uncertain future. 

So, in order to focus your creativity, we librarians at Barbara S. Ponce Public Library are hosting a flash fiction contest. Flash fiction is a type of very short story; See more about flash fiction below. Winners of the contest will receive prizes and get their work printed in a zine that will be distributed at the library. 

We look forward to reading stories by Pinellas County residents and showing off the best work as proof of the talent and creativity that lives here.

Contest Overview

The contest is open to Pinellas County residents in three age brackets: Child (age 7 - 12), Teen (age 13 - 17), and Adult (age 18 and older). There is no fee to enter.

The library will award a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize in each age bracket. Winners and a runner up will also see their stories printed in a zine that will be distributed at the library.

Submissions must be 1,000 words or less and relate to a theme that will be revealed here on Sunday, August 30, 2020. We will collect submissions through a form that will appear on this page August 31 - September 7, 2020. Submissions received after 11:59pm on September 7th will not be considered. On September 8th, submissions will be stripped of author names and given to the judges for evaluation. Winners will be notified as soon possible. We will publicly announce the winners on September 25th.

Please read the contest guidelines carefully before submitting your story. Any submissions that do not follow the guidelines will be disqualified.

Join our mailing list to get email reminders about the contest. This also helps us estimate how many people are interested. We will not use your information for any purpose other than to contact you about this contest.

Click here to get email reminders about the contest.

Contest Guidelines

  1. Writers must be residents of Pinellas County and, should they win, be able to pick up their prize at Barbara S. Ponce Public Library in Pinellas Park. (Curbside service is available.)
  2. Submissions must not exceed 1,000 words. See the notes on flash fiction for more guidance.
  3. Submissions must be fiction or creative memoir. We will consider any genre of fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, romance, slice-of-life, literary, etc). We will not consider poetry, descriptive-only memoir, or nonfiction works such as essays, travelogues, journalism, technical pieces, opinion pieces, etc.
  4. Submissions must be written specifically for this contest and be related to the theme that will be revealed on August 30th. Please do not submit works completed before the theme reveal.
  5. Submissions must be written in English.
  6. Submissions must not contain graphic violence or excessive sexual content or profanity. Think PG-13.
  7. Writers can submit one story only.

Judging Criteria

  1. Theme: The story should clearly relate to the contest’s theme. The theme will be revealed here on August 30, 2020 at 1pm.
  2. Story structure: Works should be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  3. Brevity: Works should demonstrate the author’s ability to tell an effective story in no more than 1,000 words. See the notes on flash fiction for more guidance.
  4. Originality and creativity: Give us engrossing plots and unique characters that together reveal something meaningful about the human condition.
  5. Descriptive language: Give us strong imagery and skillful writing.

Prizes

A 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded in each age bracket. Prizes are gift cards to Tombolo Books (tombolobooks.com) in the following values:

1st place: $75 gift card
2nd place: $50 gift card
3rd place: $25 gift card

Winners and a runner up will also see their stories printed in a zine that will be distributed at the library. Click here to learn more about zines.

Judges

Library Assistant Jennifer Castle is a voracious reader who loves short stories that surprise you in some way, either with a fresh way of thinking or with a twist ending. She is excited to be a part of a contest that spotlights the many talented authors we have across Pinellas County.

Library Assistant Natalia Schellhaas has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and is the author of The Time Thief and coauthor of Branches of Healing Anthology, Me + You: A Summer Romance Anthology, and Red Riding Hood Anthology. Her favorite types of stories to read are fantasy (sprinkle in some magic and romance and she falls in love), ghost stories, and a good mystery-thriller. Natalia's support for this flash fiction contest stems from her love of reading and writing and helping people achieve their dreams of showcasing their stories.

Assistant Director Dave McMurrin is a flashlight-under-the-covers-when-his-parents-told-him-to-go-to-sleep sort of reader. His favorite genres are mysteries and science fiction/fantasy. He is looking forward to seeing what stories come out of our flash fiction theme.

Pat Bennett is a Friend of the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library and an avid reader since 4th grade. A retired RN with a Master's degree, she reads an average of 160 books each year, and her favorite types of stories to read are historical fiction and mysteries. She is excited to read all the stories people submit.

Rights to Your Work

All rights to the work remain with the original author before, during, and after the contest. Works printed in the zine are also under copyright of their original authors. We do not claim any rights to the work that is submitted.

What is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is a very short story that, despite its brevity, still has a complete plot. Flash fiction can be any genre and deal with any subject. Oftentimes there is an element of surprise in flash fiction, but this is not a requirement.

What is a Zine?

The definition below is paraphrased from this entry on Wikipedia.

A zine is a collection of original works that are photocopied into physical prints for circulation. Zines are self-published, cheap to make, and easy to physically distribute and carry. Among the various intentions for creation and publication are developing one's identity, sharing a niche skill or art, or developing a story, as opposed to seeking profit.

Zines have cultural and academic value as tangible evidence of marginal communities, many of which are otherwise little-documented. This has been reflected in the creation of zine archives and related programming in such mainstream institutions as the Tate museum and the British Library.

Our zine will be created by printing winners’ stories on a folded sheet of 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper and stapled together to create a booklet. We will create a limited number of copies and distribute them at the library for a limited time.