Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

April Flash Fiction Challenge

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April Flash Fiction Challenge

By Renee Miller

March’s challenge gave me the privilege of reading many beautiful, thought provoking poems from some very talented writers. Congratulations to Catherine Graham, whose poem "The Queen is Not Welcome Here" completely wowed me. You can read Catherine’s winning submission here.

This month, it’s back to straight stories, however you choose to tell them. Often we don’t realize it, but our culture plays a huge role in how we create our characters and the messages our stories tell. For example, Open Book Toronto’s Writer in Residence for April, Angela Hibbs, has recently published a collection of poetry that reflects on how we shape our lives, families, habits and ourselves so that these things blend or adapt to the culture around us. We might be influenced by television, religion, the media, art or modern literature, or a combination of these, but somehow, we manage to form what we do and how we think around cultural influences like these.

These are not bad things necessarily, as they create a wonderful opportunity for humanity to learn and to grow. Fiction writers tend to explore the human condition in many ways and Angela’s writing inspired me to ponder what would the world be like without these influences?

The challenge for April is to ask yourself “What if?” and you’ll have four options to choose from.

What if television/Internet were never invented?

What if artistic expression were outlawed?

What if there were no books?

What if the world had one religion?

I want you to answer these questions with a story that shows how the absence or modification of such things would change culture and as a result, humanity. I don’t want you to feel there is a right or wrong answer to these questions, because there is not. Fiction gives us the opportunity to entertain a million ideas, all of them just that; ideas. Let your mind take you where it will and consider whether these things as they are now really have benefited humanity. Give me a story that makes me think.

Now to the technicalities:

Stories must be a maximum of 500 words. You can select any POV you wish. Submit by midnight (Eastern Time) May 17th, 2011. Late entries will not be read. Challenges are open to all countries but must be unpublished, original works.

Please send all entries with the submission pasted into the body of your email (no attachments please) to submissions@openbooktoronto.com. Include your name, pen name (if using one), your email and the title of your entry. In the subject line please write “Open Book April Writing Submission”. The winning submission will be published with May’s challenge.


Renee Miller has written fiction in one form or another since she could hold a pen. She has written for a local newspaper and freelances for several online sites including two pages spotlighting writing and publishing in Canada. Renee also moderates a fiction writing group of about 1100 members and two Canadian literature and writing groups on Goodreads.com. She lives in Tweed, Ontario with her two children and a lucky man who insists he is not her husband.

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