With this post, we conclude the festivities of the fourteenth quarterly flash fiction contest. Participants were solicited and enrolled; the qualifying story topic was announced; writers put their noses to their respective grindstones and drafted, rewrote, revised, and submitted their best efforts; and a broad range of readers consumed those stories and evaluated them under several categories. Most of you reading this know the drill—and now we’re at the last stage, the grand revelation of results!
As always, I want to pause and encourage the writers who didn’t places in the top five of these categories. What’s the cause of that? There are several reasons:
- The readers are a wide and diverse pool with discrete tastes.
- Sometimes the solid work of a beginner is going up against that of three or four veteran authors.
- Perhaps an appropriate category for evaluation wasn’t put forth, to reflect the strengths of a story.
- A couple dozen stories are vying for a few slots at the top: some of them have to filter down.
- A story without tags/triggers may get skipped; readers may opt not to read a story with certain tags/triggers.
- Mercury was in retrograde.
Writers who didn’t place must not feel discouraged. This contest isn’t an objective measure by any means: stories were evaluated by who showed up. The first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus didn’t have an audience arranged for them, so crew literally went out on the street and solicited/begged people to come in and watch the episode. They had no idea what they were getting into, they were confused by this avant-garde absurdism, and their reactions were less than uproarious. Did it mean Monty Python was a bad product? No, just that it hadn’t found its audience.
If you’re still feeling down, after receiving your feedback in email, ask around on #SizeTwitter for someone who’ll read and analyze your story with you. Several prominent writers in our community have volunteered to assist with this in the past. We want to support each other; we don’t want anyone to retreat and disappear. And there’s always my message of encouragement: “So, You Didn’t Kick Ass.“
Without further ado, let’s get to the results of GentleApril20: Rescue!
Which GentleApril20 story grabbed you with a great intro?
Like I say each time, the intro is what hooks your reader immediately and makes them want to continue. You can drop a coy hint, spell out a puzzle to be solved, or drop the reader right into the middle of the action. Which writers made their readers want more immediately?
Readers were given up to three votes for each category, and out of 23 respondents, eight placed Taedis’s “I Could Let You Make Me” at the head of this class. In second were “Marble Woman” by Njord and “New Goddess” by CrushedBoyWonder. Any tie for a place starts a countdown to the next available slot, so two people in second negates third place and brings us to fourth: “Will You Dance With Me?” by Tiny Pissy Fairy. Because it’s not enough to only list the top three slots, enjoy the four-way tie for fifth with Concordant Opposition’s “Evening Escape,” Penner’s “Gravityswell,” pseudoclever’s “Seeing Through,” and “Symbiotic” by Sammy Rei Schwarz.
Which story created characters you cared about?
Plot is fine for moving the action along, but who’s going to stick with a story and see how things unfold if they don’t give a rat’s ass about the characters? Sometimes we, as readers, like to put ourselves in the lead’s position; sometimes we form a bond with complex, flawed characters and root for them as they find their way.
Taedis shows us how to reach into someone’s chest or mind with “I Could Let You Make Me,” and HthereBeGt brings people to life in “Lotus Eater” in second place. Tied for third are “Evening Escape” and “Marble Woman.” Also showing in fifth are newcomer Dan Standing with “Enough,” “Seeing Through,” and “Travel Size” by Cezar Nix, also joining us for the first time.
Looking back on the collection, which three stories stick out most in your memory?
Anything can make a story live on with you. It could be the overall effort, plot and characters flowing like melody and harmony; it could be one evocative scene or a punchy, clever line that sticks in your mind. These writers show the knack for writing a story that readers don’t easily let go of.
Readers won’t forget “I Could Let You Make Me” any time soon; after this heavy-hitter, “New Goddess” and “Will You Dance With Me?” yet linger with us. In fourth place is “Lotus Eater,” and after that, Aborigen’s “Give to the One Who Asks.”
Which stories approached “rescue” in an unexpected way?
Apologies to the one reviewer who managed to slip their response in right before I reworded this question for greater specificity! Hope it didn’t screw you up too badly.
The secondary theme of GentleApril20 was “rescue,” in which one character is beset by a problem and another character has a solution. Writers were invited to exploit or toy with this concept to their heart’s content. Who were the rascally scamps who treated it with satisfying unpredictability?
Elle Largesse did, with “I Am Small,” tying in first place with “Lotus Eater.” Third and fifth places were both three-way ties (an artifact of readers getting multiple votes, perhaps): in third, “Marble Woman,” Scidram’s “Passing Through,” and “Will You Dance With Me?” I included a sixth place for this one because I just wanted more titles listed: “Gravityswell,” “Heaven’s Light” by SolomonG, and “I Could Let You Make Me” had their own spin on what it means to come to someone’s aid.
Which GentleApril20 stories were the sexiest?
This is secondarily a size fetish contest (primarily it’s a challenge to work in unfamiliar territory). Even if actual sex never happens in a story, there’s always the scent, the shiver, the emotional charge of differently sized people interacting in any capacity and all the promise that holds. Other times, these stories scoop up sex in both hands and mash it into your face.
As did “Symbiotic” by Sammy Rei Schwarz, taking first in this category by way of introducing herself to Size Riot. In second came “Seeing Through”; Wits’ Aimwell’s “Lessons Learned” seized third place, and fourth was a threesome of Oishi1’s “Aaron’s TMI Deepdive,” MicroGiant’s “For Puck’s Sake,” and “New Goddess.”
Which were the most emotionally tense or dramatic?
What would SizeLit be without dramatic tension? Will our hero get stomped into oblivion? Will every single skyscraper get knocked over, or will she miss one? Watch where you’re sitting! Don’t swallow! Or, you know, the simple facts of existence, the pressures people are under, their concerns and values, and what stands in the way of their goals. Those matter to us too.
“Lotus Eater” was voted as playing best with this aspect, with “Marble Woman” in second place and “I Could Let You Make Me” in third. “Give to the One Who Asks” came in fourth, and “Travel Size” and “Zelda” by Meyeel Sizechanger were placed in fifth.
Which stories might you use to introduce an outsider to Size Fantasy?
It almost seems like a dare, doesn’t it? Two writers at a bar, trading stories, buying shots, and then one says, “You have to pick one of your stories and share it with an outsider, a total Normie, as vanilla as they come. Which one will it be?” What follows is a prolonged silence as they rifle mentally through their oeuvres and scrape to find the one that might find a place in mainstream literature.
Readers felt that “Heaven’s Light,” “I Could Make You Let Me,” and “Lotus Eater” would be most eligible for that task. In fourth place, “Travel Size,” “Waypoint” by JM Wilde, and “Will You Dance With Me?”
Sorry for only listing first and fourth places here, but the next slot would be seventh place with a six-way tie. Five votes each for first place, four votes each for fourth place, and three votes for each of the six stories in seventh place, and a five-way tie after that in twelfth… it just gets ridiculous, sometimes.
Which stories make you want to read the writer’s other work?
An acquaintance with a talent for mix tapes gave me one of his products, a long time ago. There was one song on there that blew my mind, as new songs may, and before I bought an album of his work (which was my impulse) I begged my friends to tell me whether all of Tom Waits’s work was like this.
These writers have something about them that, based on this one story, makes the reader wonder what their other material must be like. There’s something about how the story is told that makes one want more, slightly different, in other forms, or else we’re curious about their other ideas. As I always say, one important function of these contests is to introduce readers to new favorite writers: please do follow up and read the rest of their library, now that you know who they are.
Readers want to read more by the creators of “Give to the One Who Asks,” “I Could Let You Make Me,” and “Will You Dance With Me?” Fourth place is shared five ways between “Lessons Learned,” “Lotus Eater,” “New Goddess,” “Seeing Through,” and “Symbiotic.”
Which stories best represented the “Rescue” theme for GentleApril20?
Here we are at last, the final category of Size Riot #14, the last consideration before a month’s rest and a vote for whatever topic July will bring! The different categories give various stories their moment to shine. While there are so many factors at play, readers were given the ability to choose three stories for any category, and sometimes that spread the votes out, and sometimes it bunched them up in impressive stacks.
Readers felt that Scidram’s “Passing Through” best fulfilled the spirit of GentleApril20 and its supplementary theme of Rescue. Tied for second are “Evening Escape,” “Give to the One Who Asks,” and “I Could Make You Let Me.” Tied for fifth are “Lotus Eater,” “New Goddess,” and “Travel Size.”
It is, at the end of this all, my sincerest hope that everyone got some enjoyment out of their share of the action. Writers have successfully completed yet another fresh, original story to add to their collection; readers have experienced a couple dozen new size fantasy adventures, and thanks to them for generously contributing their feedback to the writers! It is most appreciated.
Relax, catch your breath, recover your strength. Sign-ups for July’s contest will start soon, and nominations for July’s topic will open up as well! Think about what you as a writer would like to work with, or what you as a reader would like to see. Gentle reminder: butts has waited patiently for three years and is once again eligible to be nominated.
Thank you everyone! Stay safe!