In honor of the International Day of Words on Nov. 23, The Signpost held a flash fiction contest paralleling the annual contest sponsored by the Museo de la Palabra in Spain.

Just as participants in the Museo de la Palabra’s contest must submit flash fiction stories of 100 words or less, Signpost readers were asked to submit their own flash fiction stories comprised of less than 100 words.

We promised to publish the top three stories and award the winner with a $20 Amazon gift card.

After careful evaluation, The Signpost staff chose the top three submissions, and are now asking Signpost readers to vote for their favorite piece via Facebook and Twitter.

What is flash fiction?

Flash fiction writing is a skill centering on an author’s ability to adeptly develop a plot, characters, conflict and resolution within a limited space. Typically, any story shorter than 1,500 words is considered flash fiction, and writers of flash fiction create stories as concise and succinct as possible.

In the 1980s, editors Robert Shapard and James Thomas published stories shorter than 2,000 words in the “Sudden Fiction” series, and the popularity of flash fiction has increased since then.

Numerous websites, blogs and organizations hosting competition and featuring a range of contestants’ work. “The New Yorker”, “Esquire” and “National Public Radio” have conducted contests for flash fiction.

Jessica Sorensen

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Jess Sorensen laughing with a little girl during a long bus ride in Shanghai.

Sorensen grew up in Layton, Utah, and both of her parents are Wildcat grads. Sorensen graduated from WSU with a degree in Multimedia Journalism in December 2017. Her path to higher education began at Snow College, where she earned her Associates Degree before transferring to Weber.

Before she started studying at WSU, Sorensen spent six months in China as an English teacher.

While she was in China, Sorensen realized she enjoyed writing letter back home to family and friends about events that were happening in her life, which inspired her to major in communications.

What began as an interest in journalism morphed into a love for videography, and Sorensen hopes to pursue a career that incorporates videography.

Sorensen’s piece was inspired by an assignment from a writing class where she had to incorporate five random elements into a story.

She said that writing 100 words is always a challenge, but by adding drama to the story, it makes it easier to build tension.

Retirement

My, what a day I’ve had, standing beneath the inky dark, the string of a kite in my hand. Started out normal enough, got up, fed the cat left for work…But I ended up at the bar. I had too much to drink but I like their philosophy—no limit on drinks. More alcohol. I found myself being thrown out, engulfed in a dark plastic suit. How I ended up here, a kite above me swinging in the stars, I’ll never really know, but I know I cannot go home.

The cat will miss me, work will not.

Anastasia Douglass

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Anastasia Douglass camping in Moab. Some of her hobbies include rock climbing and traveling.

Douglass is originally from Oceanside, California. After moving to Salt Lake City, she decided to attend WSU because of the university’s proximity to her home and because it offered a bachelor’s degree in zoology.

However, after realizing a career as a wildlife biologist would require her to move frequently, Douglass decided to changer her major to English with an emphasis in creative writing.

Douglass has pursued her passion for writing through various extracurricular activities. She is the president of the creative writing club, Writer’s Ink, and the chapter vice president of Sigma Tau Delta. She is also the art section editor for WSU’s student publication, Metaphor.

In addition, she volunteers as the senior editor for Word of the Nerd, a nerd news website.

Douglass is now a senior, expecting to graduate this semester. After graduation, she will begin working on her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to become a therapist.

Her entry to the Day of Words Flash Fiction Contest was inspired by events from her childhood.

The Loneliest Child

I adopted orange in fifth grade. I surveyed my class to discover the favored color of my peers. Red and green blew everyone out of the park, while brown and orange sat on the sidelines. After having a solid talk with brown, I turned to orange and questioned its motives. It wasn’t long until I learned it had none. A product of middle-child syndrome, orange had nothing to offer. Neither did I. We belonged together. And though I was too young to be a parent, I couldn’t live in an RYGBIV world. It would’ve meant sacrificing everything I stood for.

Rees Sweeten

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Rees Sweeten, center-right, performing at an open mic night.

Sweeten is a Utah native who will graduate from WSU this semester with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and a minor in Psychology. After graduating, Sweeten plans to pursue his ambitions as a professional writer by committing to consistently publish, cooperate with editors and promote his work.

“Writing is my life, my addiction, and my hobby, so getting paid to do what I love is my greatest ambition,” Sweeten said.

Sweeten regularly participates in open mic nights and poetry slams, winning his first poetry slam two months ago. He is currently working on a book of poems, and aspires to have the most pieces in Metaphor this year.

He noted that successful writing comes, in part, through networking and being surrounded by bright peers. Sweeten said that he and Douglass spent some time together working on their submissions.

He said of his submission, “I wanted to write about a small action a person does everyday that could also tell you about their whole life. Going out to a mailbox is something that can take less than a minute each day, and what many would consider a mundane task could mean the world to a boy hoping for a letter from Dad.”

A Post Card to Anyone

I used to run to the rusted mailbox, tripping on my laces. I fell too many times searching for remnants of a man never there, searching for a slip of paper that proved I wasn’t the bastard everyone said I was. You can only stumble so many times before a postcard from Tucson, Albuquerque, or Fresno means nothing. My first day of fifth grade, I realized the bruises from a fictional dad stung worse than the cigarette burns from a stepfather. I’m a man now but the boy is writing, hoping he will get the message: You never should’ve written.

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