When we sat down to select the themes for 2019’s monthly flash fiction contest, we looked over the commonalities between submissions, determined what concept yielded the best results… and immediately threw all that data away.
Apparition Lit is new to the submission game. This means we get to be the cocky, defy all authority partner rather than the grizzled veteran. We’re using this opportunity to challenge new writers and examine the submission process at the same time. When our inbox first opened, we giggled over the focus on boobs, butts, and dead wives. It seemed silly and innocuous. As the months worn on, so did our patience. This subtle (and often not-so-subtle) misogyny was sent to us by both male and female authors. Often in these stories women were introduced body part first, with an examination of their age (which was either too old to be fuckable or just the right amount of fuckability), and then were made to be either evil, slutty, or dead.
In 2019, instead of monthly themes, Apparition Lit will issue monthly challenges. These flash pieces must be speculative and must meet the requirements of the selected test. This may mean that stories refer to the test outright, challenge the test, or abide by the requirements.
In return, Apparition Lit is increasing the prize for the monthly flash fiction contest to $10 USD, to meet the minimum semi-pro payment.
This might mean where there are months where we don’t receive enough to make our 10 story minimum or any stories at all. That’s fine. We want to reward good writing, there’s no obligation to reward that every month.
Challenge us. Challenge yourself.
2019 Monthly Flash Fiction Contest
January: The flash must pass or discuss The Bechdel-Wallace Test, which requires the piece 1) contain two women, 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something other than a man.
February: The flash must pass or discuss The Mako Mori Test, which requires that there must be 1) at least one female character, 2) who gets her own narrative arc, 3) that isn’t about supporting a man’s story
March: The piece must be inspired by The Sexy Lamp Test. In this test, rather than replacing female characters with sexy lamps, we want to see male characters replaced with sexy lamps. Does your story still hold together?
April: This is a call for POC, Black and Indigenous writers. The flash must pass or discuss The DuVernay Test where African-Americans and other minorities have fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories.
May: This is a call for POC, Black and Indigenous writers. The flash must pass or discuss The Latif Test which sets out 1) Are there two named characters of color?, 2) Do they have dialogue? 3) Are they not romantically involved with one another? 4) Do they have any dialogue that isn’t comforting or supporting a white character? 5) Is one of them definitely not magic?
June: This is a call for LGBTQQIA+ writers. The flash must pass or discuss The Vito Russo Test, where the piece must contain a lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender character. That character must not be predominantly defined by their orientation or gender identity—they need to be as unique as straight cis characters. And they must be important enough to affect the plot—they can’t just crack some jokes or “paint urban authenticity.”
July: This is a call for trans writers. The flash must pass or discuss The Topside Test which requires that the piece includes multiple trans characters who know each other and talk to each other about something other than medical transition procedures.
August: This is a call for Native and Indigenous writers. The flash must pass or discuss The Native Bechdel Test, which requires 1) Two (named) Native Characters, 2) Who talk to each other, 3) about something other than white people
September: This is a call for POC, Black and Indigenous writers. The flash must pass or discuss The Racial Bechdel Test, which asks 1) Are there two or more named people of Colour, 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something other than White people
October: The flash must pass or discuss The Finkbeiner Test, which sets out that the story must not mention 1) The fact that the subject is a woman, 2) Her husband’s job, 3) Her child care arrangements, 4) How she nurtures her underlings, 5) How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field, 6) How she’s such a role model for other women, 7) How she’s the “first woman to…”
November: The flash must pass or discuss Raleigh Becket Test, which contains a central male character whose narrative needs the development of a female character but is precluded from being sexually or romantically involved with the character.
December: The flash must pass The Apparition Test, which sets out that 1) the main character must not be a writer with writer’s block, 2) boobs cannot be described, 3) Story cannot involve a long scene with a character driving, 4) Story cannot involve rape or violence toward women/children/animals
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels