Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

September 2011 Flash Fiction Challenge

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September 2011 Flash Fiction Challenge

By Renee Miller

Welcome back to my flash fiction challenges. I hope everyone had a great summer and is enjoying the reprieve from the heat before the misery of winter sets in. We won’t think about winter right now.

This summer I had the pleasure of reading Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor, Open Book's September Writer in Residence. The devastating experience of Ismail Boxwala, the book’s protagonist, inspired this month’s challenge.

In Doctor’s novel, something happens to Ismail that alters not only his life, but the lives of many people close to him. It is a mistake that any one of us could make, but the consequences are so tragic that he cannot recover from it. He’s not the only character suffering in this story and he’s not the only one journeying toward healing, but the emotion connected to his life event is so strong, I took notice and admired Doctor’s skill in fostering such strong feelings very early in the book.

Emotion is important in writing. How the reader feels about characters and events affects the reading experience. Good writers try to hone their ability to draw both negative and positive responses out of the reader. They are not only able to show their character’s emotional growth, they are also able to encourage growth in the reader. This is what I challenge you to do in September’s Writing Challenge.

Play with emotion. Don’t just describe the emotions of a character; make the reader “feel.” Include in your story a mistake or decision made by the protagonist that has dire consequences not only for him, but for others around him and his struggle as a result. The challenge here is to make the reader imagine herself in the protagonist’s shoes. In other words, imply the question: What if this were you?

Now for the technicalities:

Stories can be written in the POV and genre of your choice but must be a maximum of 500 words. Submit by midnight (Eastern Time) October 1, 2011. Late entries will not be read. Submissions must be original unpublished works. These challenges are open to all countries.

Please send 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 September Writing Submission.” The winning submission will be published in Open Book: Toronto with October’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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