Last month David Wing of Zero Flash asked me to guest judge the January entries for their monthly competition and I gladly agreed. I have no experience whatsoever and had never done anything remotely similar, like being a slush reader. But it sounded like fun, and fun it was. And educational as well.
As writers we’re told that reading is one of the best, if not the best, ways to learn to write (besides writing and writing and writing). Of course, you have to read with a different mindset than that of a recreational reader in order to pick up the techniques and language subtleties that turn an average idea into an outstanding fiction. And when you are going through the scores of stories in your slush pile, your brain is extra alert to spot what works and what doesn’t, what’s a good story and what isn’t really a story at all. In other words, you’re giving your reading muscles a good workout. So no wonder many successful genre writers started in the trenches, proof-reading, copy-editing or editing all sorts of magazines out there, particularly in these days of e-zines, blogs and every other kind of internet publications.
But I digress, as usual.
Last weekend I had a great time reading some forty stories and choosing a winner was hard. Very hard. There were so many good stories: interesting ideas, surprising turns and beautiful wording – really good stories. You can go and read all entries for Zero Flash January competition here. And congratulations to Alex L Williams, M.P. McCune and Jenny Woodhouse, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and to the runner-ups Kris McGinnis, Rebecca Field and Alex Z. Salinas. BIG CONGRATS!