This year, I am the judge for the Seán O Faoláin Short Story Prize, for a story of up to 3000 words. Closing date 31st July. First prize €1,500.
For entry details see Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize.
Get your entries in early. This is a very honest and open competition: there is no team of first readers, the judge reads EVERY story. That is rare, and it means your story has an equal chance with every other story submitted. You are only going to be subject to one person’s taste (mine) so here’s a helping hand. These are some of the things that I’ll be looking for in entries:
• A distinctive tone or voice to the story. I often dislike straightforward narratives unless the language is beautiful.
• I have a weakness for stylish, first person narratives.
• Innovative, considered writing. The language used is equally as important to my enjoyment of a story as the ‘what happens’.
• Stories where something happens – however small the incident.
• Stories that make me squirm a bit. Avoid safe happenings to safe characters.
• Humour – the blacker the better.
• Concrete detail: name your places and objects, use your senses. I hate vagueness.
• I have a particular fondness for short shorts, flash fiction – whatever you like to call them. I love concision.
• Here are some of my favourite short stories, to give you an idea of the type of story that does it for me:
Lucky Girls – Nell Freudenberger
Breaking the Pig – Etgar Keret
Something that Needs Nothing – Miranda July
Angelo’s Passion – Christopher Burns
The Wake – Stuart Dybek
Blown from the Bridge – David Means
Pillow – Anne Enright
The Ceiling – Kevin Brockmeier
Helping – Robert Stone
Irrigation – Vanessa Gebbie
Zigzagger – Manuel Muñoz
Please do try to get your stories in early; people often rush to meet the deadline at the end (I'm guilty of it myself). But as I will be reading every entry, I’ll have a deadline too. And if I get sent piles and piles of stories near the end, they may not get as careful and leisurely a reading as the ones submitted earlier. Good luck!