I was honoured to be asked to judge Bath Flash Fiction Award’s inaugural novella-in-flash contest. There were many strong novella entries making the competition fierce. It was fascinating to see the different way each writer approached this challenge!
One of the most important traits of the flash novella is in creating a sense of urgency that pulls the reader in quickly. This is achieved through pacing, stand-alone story strength, and the creation of unforeseeable dramatic tension. Ultimately, success relies on the crafting of an inventive, non-traditional narrative arc. The short nature of the novella-in-flash does not allow for much context or rumination. Instead, it relies on tragic urgency.
In the winning entry from Charmaine Wilkerson, How to Make a Window Snake, the structure and heartbeat of death is ominously present throughout. The author creates a brilliant picture window through which we see a loving but deeply wounded family trying to survive more tragedy.
In a series of beautifully detailed portraits, Things I Dream About When I'm Not Sleeping by Ingrid Jendrzejewski we are thrust into the chaotic world of emotional limbo; watching the asymmetry of a couple grappling with mismatched wishes and obsessions, featuring unforgettable domestic details such as nesting forks and eating ice cream in the bathroom.
In the ambitious A Safer Way to Fall by Joanna Campbell, stakes are high and violence (both large and small) become a companion more trustworthy than peace. One realizes that there is simply is no safe way to fall.
I was thrilled with the quality of writing from so many marvellous entries! Thank you to everyone who entered this difficult contest.