Flash fiction recognition

I was just on the Shadowed Realms Reader’s Forum, where I discussed the merit of recommending stories to awards such as the HWA’s Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in Horror Writing (i.e. the ‘Stokers’).

It started me thinking on why *good* flash fiction doesn’t often rate a mention in awards, or in ‘Year’s Best’ anthologies. Upon reviewing Bill Congreve’s & Michelle Marquardt’s Years Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy 2004 anthology, I can only congratulate them on choosing at least one flash piece (Occam’s Razing by Brendan Carson, which appeared in Antipodean SF), as well as selecting several flash stories for the Recommended Reading list (including Martin Livings’ Armageddon for Dummies and my own Countdown Macabre, both from Antipodean SF).

I hope the quality of the Shadowed Realms stories which have appeared so far this year will make an impact on awards, anthologies, etc. I think the writers really deserve the admiration and feedback from the readers.

This is an extract from the info I posted in the Shadowed Realms forum:

A few Shadowed Realms stories have received a Stoker recommendation or two this year, all deserving of the recognition. I’m not trawling for Shadowed Realms publicity here – I’m asking you to consider the value of awards (and not just the Stokers, but the Australian Ditmars and WA Tin Ducks – which are reader nominated – and other awards as well). Awards are vague and sometimes divide opinions – some like ’em, some hate ’em.

However, if you really think a story pushes boundaries, captures the imagination, or otherwise is just bloody excellent – why not nominate that author for some additional recognition? Flash fiction appears to have the prejudice of ‘it’s only 500 or 1000 words, why should that win an award over a 5000 word story?’. I’ll tell you why – because many of the Shadowed Realms stories you’re reading are often harder to construct and refine to flash fiction status (below 1000 words in SR’s case) than regular short stories, and the best flash pieces often convey just as much imagery, character, and twists, as something much longer (and presumably flabbier).

Think of your favourite ‘Realms stories (and there are some corkers in the current issue, and many in the earlier issues, besides). Now think of how it rates – how it stayed with you, changed your world for the few minutes you were reading it – then consider if that author deserves a nod in some form or another.

Hell, if awards aren’t your thing – vote in the polls here (under the Realms of Fiction topic), leave a message in the ‘Study Drawer’ for the author or under the Issue topic to say what you thought of the story. Even send the author an email. Except for the minority of stratospherically successful novelists, writers receive precious little reader feedback or recognition. One ‘fan’ message or email, or award nomination, can make a world of difference.