The #flashtag writing competition for Chorlton Arts Festival entered its final phase this week. We spent Monday night judging several dozen entrants and we announce the shortlist on Friday.
You learn a lot when judging a competition. This is what I learnt:
1. Words are nice. We don't like it when people use other things like rivers, dead birds and trilbies.
2. Oblong seems to be the shape of choice for paper when submitting to competitions. Four-dimensional entries rarely get far into the judging phase.
3. When reading aloud to other judges, there is no need to mention all the punctuation by name as you go along.
4. It's true. "Story" really doesn't rhyme with anything.
5. A one-to-ten marking system is fine: just remember that "now we summon ye hoardes of hell" is not a number.
6. The three most common themes of short stories are: people doing things; people not doing things; ponies.
7. There is no need to read any of the entries. You can tell by the smell if it's good.
8. When informing an entrant that they have not been successful, it is necessary to go round to their prison cell and hug them intimately for sixteen hours.
9. If you shout out of the window for long enough, a lonely crow will tell you the winner.
10. I maybe ate too much pizza. It has done strange things to my knee. And by knee, I mean brain.