Sunday, 29 January 2012

Shortlisted in the Writer's Toolkit Flash Fiction Competition

A good writing week this week, despite the distractions of the cricket and the tennis, possibly because my portfolio career has been suspended, pending further enquiries (don't tell my patrons!) and I've been at my desk every night. Long may it continue!

I said in my last post that I was recently shortlisted (top ten) in the Writer's Toolkit flash fiction competition. The competition brief was to write a short story of 150 words or less on the theme of 'Secrets'. My story actually came out at exactly 150 words because at the last minute, after I'd sealed the envelope, I suddenly panicked and decided that the wording of the rules could mean that the story had to be exactly 150 words. Mine was 149 if I remember correctly and it was surprisingly difficult to add that extra word!

Apparently the competition attracted 182 entries (which I must admit was quite a surprise) and entries came from several European countries as well as the UK. I was particularly pleased to be shortlisted (although obviously I'd have been even more pleased if I'd won!) partly because it gave my writing a much needed boost and also because I was pleased with the piece I wrote.

You may (or may not) know that I blogged a while back about how to write successful micro-fiction, or flash fiction as it is more commonly known and I pretty much followed my own advice with this entry, something I must admit I don't always do. For example, I wrote a new story from scratch and didn't try to cut a longer piece, I (think) I started with a strong opening and I had some conflict which made it into a proper story.

Obviously I didn't get it absolutely spot-on or I would have won but I was happy with what I produced, especially as after the first draft, I decided to stretch myself and go a little bit "darker" with the subject matter.

I've included the finished piece below, not in an attempt to show off (honestly!) but because I thought it might be useful to show the sort of story that can work for flash fiction. If you want to see the winning entries, they are at and are well-worth a read. Many congratulations to the winners.

If this has whetted your appetite for entering a flash fiction competition yourself, Sue Johnson has organised another one, this time on the theme of 'Shoes'. Closing date is 31st May 2012 and details are also at Good luck if you decide to enter.

Here is my shortlisted entry.

Tiger Tim and Me

I had another letter from Daddy today. I read it twice, then zipped it up in Tiger Tim's tummy. Tiger Tim's tummy is getting really fat. I hope Mummy doesn't notice or Daddy will be in big trouble again.

I wanted Daddy to tell me some more about Bob, his new puppy. Last time he said that Bob had chewed Auntie Angela's slippers and hidden them under their bed.

I wish I could meet Bob but I'm not allowed to go to Daddy's house any more, even though he isn't there at the moment. I'm sure Auntie Angela wouldn't mind. She was dead nice to me last time, the night that Daddy was taken away by the police.

Apart from Daddy, only Tiger Tim and me know about the letters. Mummy says it's wrong to keep secrets but I think Tiger Tim and me are going to keep this one.

Copyright Melissa Lawrence
January 2012        


  1. It's a real challenge to get a rounded story into 150 words but you have done just that. Well done - it's excellent to be shortlisted. I might have a try in the next one, although I have never written anything that short - 250 is the minimum I've had a go at.

    Thanks for your encouraging words on my comment last week. I have quite a lot of stuff submitted but some comps are taking longer than normal to announce the results - and the websites are silent. Just have to keep plugging away...

  2. Hi Vanessa. Thanks for the compliment. Have a go at the 150 words. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I've just done one for a womag that had to be 60 words or under. That was really challenging but I think all those years of writing articles and readers' letters to a tight brief is finally paying off!

    I sympathise with the waiting game. It's one of the worst things about writing. Hang on in there and I hope you get some good news very soon.

  3. Hi Melissa, congratulations - that's wonderful. How can you cram so much into so little and do it so elegantly?

    1. Thank you, Jane. I really appreciate the compliment. I was pleased with this piece but not all of them work so well!

  4. Hi Melissa, I've just nominated your blog for a Liebster Award. Please go here to collect it, if you'd like to:

    All the best,

    1. Wow! Thank you so much, Vanessa. My first blog award! I think you should have awarded yourself a separate award for "Most helpful and consistent supportive comments left on a blog"! I will try and see if I can leave a comment on your blog about it and will also mention it in my next post. Many thanks again, especially for the very kind and encouraging things you said about it.