I’m toying with the idea of a regular flash fiction contest

I know that there are a bazillion of these things out there already so why should I feel inclined to create another one you ask. This is clearly a ploy to try and drive traffic to my blog, or an opprtunity to grandstand isn’t it? And who is this guy to presume to judge other? Well these are all valid questions but to be honest the answer is ‘no’ to the first two, and ‘I just want to host it not judge it’ to the third. I think that there are plenty of writers out there who just love to write and flash fiction (especially the really short kind) can be a fun way to step out your comfort zone and try something completely different.

Now the trick will be to have a contest that is somehow different from the others. I don’t intend to offer lavish prizes beyond the undisputed glory that is afforded the victor, so I can’t set myself apart with the value of the rewards.

My initial throughts are this. Each time there will be a musical prompt, and the stories (between 100 and 250 words) need to be inspired by that song, and when the dust settles it will fall to the judge to nominate the song for the next one.

So (assuming it does get off the ground) I need to decide how often it should run; weekly, monthly, yearly, bi-centenially? One complication is the time difference. Living in Australia means that we’re out of step with large chunks of the english speaking world so timing will be a challenge. This makes me think that monthly is probably a good way to go.

So I put it to you. Do you think it might be worthwhile starting this? I know that some of my favourite people already run their own competitions so I’d love to hear from you about the pros, cons, challenges and joys that could inspire me to give it a go or leave this in the you must be crazy basket.

What do you think? Should the Monthly Musical Double Drabble (a working title) commence its maiden voyage?

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12 thoughts on “I’m toying with the idea of a regular flash fiction contest”

  1. I’ll just recap my experiences and let you be the judge now that I’ve been holding flash fiction/short story contests for a year. It can be a lot of work. Some months I don’t have to do too much and people come, but most months I have to run around letting people know about it and drum up excitement.

    This last contest would have had no one participate if I hadn’t really gotten out there. It was open for ten days. I got one entry on the first day and then nothing for awhile. Finally others came in during the last couple days because I brought it up regularly in various forums and they finally decided to give it a shot. The month before that there were exactly three entries because I didn’t spend quite as much time marketing it (though I did get out there some). This is with offering Amazon gift cards as the first and second prizes. Plus I have almost 800 Twitter followers, about 140 blog followers, and previous contestants all telling their friends. Word of mouth usually generates at least one or two people I’ve never seen before showing up each month. Last month was just a tough one for some reason. It might have been because of the high word count, whereas I usually do shorter ones.

    Next month is actually more promising because I’m doing a zombie theme and apparently there is a demand for that (might have tried it sooner if I knew). Two people have already written their stories and are just waiting for me to open the contest up in two weeks. Many others have said they plan to participate. So it could be that the subject of each contest effects the participation as well.

    My main thing is it’s tough getting participants beyond an initial excitement in the first month or two you do them from people who already know you. Really popular websites like Fantasy Faction or blogs who have been around much longer (mine is only a year old) probably have better luck because their following is much larger (plus many of them have great prizes). With so many short story/flash fiction contests out there, you will have to work on promotion in order to see a decent amount of participation. So long as you don’t mind the extra work, it can be a fun experience. I know I’ve really enjoyed doing the contests and plan to keep them up for hopefully another year.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Best of luck to you!

    1. Thank you for that comprehensive resply Susan. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to post this it is definitely food for thought. Also, the zombie theme next month (hopefully you mean mid June) sounds awesome so I’ll have to come and check it out 🙂

      1. Sorry if the comment was wordy, but I wanted to give you as much information to go on as possible. Glad you found it helpful.

        Yes, I mean this month for the zombie contest, lol. I’ve been saying “next month” for weeks. Guess I haven’t made the transition since June finally arrived. It is funny how even people I don’t think will like zombies are interested in that contest! I’ll be interested to see what types of stories turn up.

  2. It does take a lot of work, especially setting up the blog posts (contest and winner’s post) and picking a judge. The first time is the hardest because you have to write the original post. You can copy and paste after that, but it still takes time. The other thing that takes time is setting up the invitations on twitter. It’s a pain, but people like to be invited, and they also like to be mentioned when their story posts.

    But it also has its rewards. People get to know you and your writing. You get more folks to spread the word on your own writing, and your contest. I’m not certain about frequency. You’re right about the timing. I suggest you set it for a full 24 or 36 hours like #MotivationMonday and maybe do it bi-monthly (every two weeks or so) to give you a break.

    I find the judge I pick often brings in new people to the contest as well as the regulars and I can always add them to the invite list to remind them the next time. I’ve been doing mine now for 25 weeks and I’ve had a great response. Good luck with your contest. 🙂

    1. Thanks Siobhan. I must admit that it was your Thursday Threads contest that inspired me to consider this idea. I see the wonderful responses you have had and I would be blown away if anything I put together was half as cool as that.

      As for getting guest judges… as the inspiration I was kinda hoping you might be the first one. If you’re interested of course… 😉

      1. I’d be honored to be your first judge, Goran. Let me know when you want me to do it and I’ll be there. 🙂

      2. Oh heavens, the days got away from me! Yes, I’d be honored to be your first judge. Let me know when you want to start and what you want me to do, and I’ll be happy to do it. Thanks for asking. 🙂

      3. Thank you so much. I think next month I will unveil the contest. I’ll definitely give you plenty of warning. I just need to come up with an interesting /inspiring first song 🙂

  3. After reading the feedback here and thinking about the extremely valid points raised by Susan and Siobahn in terms of the commitment needed (I do sometimes wonder if I’ll be spreading myself too thin) I think I will roll the dice and see what’s what.

    So thank you all for your encouragement and advice. As soon as its more than just an idea I’ll be sure and let you know.

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