Annual "Flash Fiction" contest seeks student experimentation
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 22:02
Randall Library is holding its annual “Flash Fiction” contest. Earlier this month they announced the 2013 submission theme must be “Laboratory” Why laboratory? The library staff recognized the high demands of the “born digital” generation and wanted students to help them adjust to the continuous transformations in technology and media.
“We’ve been thinking a lot recently about the library of the future, especially the Randall Library of the future, and we find the trend is becoming more of a place for presentation practice, collaboration and experimentation,” said Event Coordinator for Randall Library, Christopher Rhodes.
The three judges for the contest are Sarah Watstein, the university librarian; Lavonne Adams, the creative writing MFA coordinator; and Mark Boren, an associate professor of English. According to contest rules, submissions must be from a current UNCW student, 500 words or less, include the laboratory theme and mention Randall Library at least once.
All submissions are anonymous, so the judges base their selections solely on the best content. The top three winners will receive cash prizes and the top 15 selections will be published in an anthology published by the UNCW Publishing Laboratory.
“I look for beautiful writing, and a creative concept. Typos are a real pitfall, so all writers should proof their work at least three times before submitting anything,” Adams said.
As for Boren, he said he does not go into judging looking for anything in particular, but that in general, the stories should be original, well written and have a significant effect on the reader.
Each of the judges rank the submissions individually first, and then they meet to discuss their choices. Once they have discussed the reasoning behind their choices, together they determine the final winners.
Rachel Richardson, a current first year creative writing student of the MFA program, won first place in 2010, third place in 2011 and first place in 2012. She is a hopeful contestant for this year’s contest as well.
Richardson found the laboratory theme interesting, but the hardest part for her was incorporating the library into her story in an inventive way.
“I think it’s [the theme] cool, and it has a lot of potential. I immediately started thinking of a mad scientist,” Richardson said.
When writing, Richardson tries not to go with her first instinct, but instead chooses to use her imagination to be creative and ultimately think outside of the box. She strives to find that one aspect that will make her story stand out from all of the other submissions and encourages other students to do the same.
According to the Randall Library website, “Randall Library is a laboratory where you can connect, collaborate, iterate, discuss, discover, and take your studies and work to the next level.” By inviting UNCW students to participate in the Flash Fiction contest, the library staff hopes to explore the changing ideas concerning libraries' services and spaces, and how they need to conform to changes in production and consumption of information on campuses.
The Flash Fiction reception will be held April 18 at 6 p.m. in Randall Library, where the winners will read their short stories.