The Definition of Winning

The Secret Scribe proofreads his flash fiction entry.
The Secret Scribe proofreads his flash fiction entry.

The flash fiction challenge is probably my favorite feature here at Indies Unlimited. Each Saturday morning, we post an invitation – open to anyone – to write a story in 250 words or less based on a photograph and written prompt . Entrants have four days to get their story submitted.The contest is free, and voting gets good exposure for all the qualified entrants. The story voted reader favorite receives its own spotlight post and inclusion in the anthology at year-end. But you probably already know this.

The Indies Unlimited 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology is a big hit. We gave away lots of free copies, and it’s priced at only 99 cents in hopes of gaining new readers for the winning authors. So why don’t more people enter?

“I only want to enter if I think I can win. I’ll wait to see who else submits a story and then maybe I’ll give it a shot.”

I’ve got two words for that: SAY WHAT?!

I’m going to tell you a secret. I know someone who enters that contest each and every week knowing the entry will NOT win. You heard me correctly. Not only does that person know the story won’t win, that person sabotages the entry to make certain of it. “How is that possible?” you ask. Well, the contest rules state “250 words or less,” and each week this person’s entry exceeds that number by at least five or as many as fifty words. Why in blazes would someone do that? you ask. First off, please tell me you really didn’t just say “why in blazes.” Second, how about because that person loves to write?

This person…this Secret Scribe, Anonymous Author, Private Penman, or whatever you’d like to call him/her – uses a different name each week, but the underlying theme of the story is always the same. The challenge is three-fold: write a story people will want to vote for but can’t, maintain a secret identity, and publish a collection of themed flash fiction stories at the end of a year. One story per week – 52 stories, 52 photographs, credits, etc. – that adds up to over 100 pages. So, about fifteen minutes a week gets the Secret Scribe his/her own book. Not too shabby.

Yes, I’ve given permission to the Secret Scribe, as well as a number of other people, to use my photographs in conjunction with their stories as long as I’m properly credited. All anyone has to do is ask. So, I now have three questions for you. They’re actually dares, if you will.

#1 – If you’re not entering the flash fiction challenge – WHY NOT? Are you telling me you don’t have 10-15 minutes a week?

#2 – Can you guess which entries belongs to the Secret Scribe?

#3 – Can you guess what the Secret Scribe’s theme is?

Don’t forget to check out the flash fiction challenge this coming Saturday. You never know, ten minutes and a little creativity might yield you the week’s winning story. Or it may start you on your own quest for a collection. Either way, that makes you a winner, doesn’t it?

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

18 thoughts on “The Definition of Winning”

  1. Never thought about it in that way. But you are right why not? If you love to write like I do why not write where others can read it. In school I would write in every free moment I had. Both classmates and teachers loved my stories. This is a good way to let others read my writing.

  2. And why not? Yes, I don’t always do it. Okay, I’m seriously falling down on the job. But it could be a great habit to get back into. Exercise your brain and your typing fingers and have some fun!

  3. Right on Kat. Though I’ve said the picture has to speak to me, I need to figure out how to write either with the prompts given…or write what I want to the picture and make it longer that 250. Who cares if I win as long as I’m writing and as you said I can put it in a book of my own. You are so smart, Jenney (from Forest Gump :-))

  4. I’ve entered almost all of the flash fiction challenges and plan to continue doing so. Even on weeks where I don’t get a story in, I take the time to read and vote for those who do. I’ve notice on several occasions that voting turnout is very low, as in less than 13 total votes. It would be nice if all twenty five contributing authors at Indies Unlimited cast a vote each week.

    1. Some of us are not allowed to enter or vote, Amy, because we have access to the polling software. But yes, I agree, I’d love to see more entries and more voters! We need more folks to spread the word. 🙂

  5. Ah, the mystery of the too-long entries has been solved! 🙂

    I’d love to enter more often. It’s a good challenge and the prompts are always unique and usually fun. For me (and my alter ego, Maggie Rascal) it comes down to how much time is available. We’re quite busy, both of us. 😀

    1. Unfortunately, some people don’t double-check their word count, but we now know of at least one person doing it on purpose. And we hope to see more entries from you, Ms. Rascal! 😀

  6. I’m not very good at writing short fiction, but this post has certainly given me some ideas. And a lot of questions! Who is this Mystery Scribe? And why does he/she deliberately sabotage the effort? Sooooo intriguing. 🙂

  7. Someone on LinkedIn asked a question about winning an award for their writing. I posted a link to the IU site and the IU Anthology. More importantly I encouraged all those reading to look at the Saturday post and try their hand at an entry. At least they get people reading their work.

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