Winter 2016 Six Word Contest: Winner Announced

Congratulations to the winner of the Winter 2016 Six Word Contest! The Gravity of the Thing received over four hundred six-word stories for this season’s contest, and from those four hundred stories guest judge Margaret Malone named Ty Phelps the 1st place winner, and Gerrard Lipscombe the honored finalist. Here is what Margaret Malone had to say about the selected stories:
“Both the winner and the runner-up stories were fantastic. They both had the same two things I look for no matter what kind of work I’m reading – voice and story. For me, these are the two crucial elements of how I connect as a reader with a writer on the page. And both of these six word stories had it in spades. The thing that pushed the winning story into first place for me was it also, incredibly, in six words, contained an element of scene. I really felt like I could see, hear, sit with these two characters as they shared this moment together of shock. I had an entire vibrant, filled-out scene going in my head as I read it. There is a whole, real, living, breathing world behind those three lines, those six words. That is incredible.
What impressed me about the runner-up was that the author was able to create what felt like an entire, complex relationship between a mother and a daughter in six words. As in all good writing, it’s what’s not said that says it all. And this six word story says so much about the ways we love and fail each other in our families.”
During the Six Word Contest, the editors of The Gravity of the Thing were fortune enough to discuss short fiction and constraint-based writing with Margaret Malone. We are happy to share a few of her thoughts on short-form fiction:
“It is everything I love about writing as a medium, why I was drawn to writing, and why I love to write. Short fiction is unique – it forces the writer to create whole worlds out of less words, and it enables and encourages a reader to invest in the narrative in a more immediate way than a novel does. A novel will sit you down in the passenger seat of a car and drive you around the town, introducing you to folks, take you out for a burger, massage your feet, and ask you if you want to hear a story. In short fiction, you are dragged by the arm to the scene of the incident and you either see it or look away. I love that about the genre.
And I absolutely love the concept of constraints, of any kind, in an art form. Constraints become channeling, focusing. A constraint forces us to reimagine our intentions in a way that can create phenomenal results. It always makes me think of the Danish film The Five Obstructions – sure, the results can vary in degrees of perceived success and audience reaction, but what is created, the process, the work (which, to my mind, at the end of the day, is all there is) can be magic in a way all the artistic freedom in the world cannot. In short-form fiction, this would mean a writer is forced to really think about every single word on the page – is that word essential? is there a better word that says more? is each word pulling its weight? These are questions that writers are usually asking themselves (or maybe should be) anyway – but in short-form they are critical. There is no room for fluff or painting pretty pictures for show.”
The Gravity of the Thing would like to thank Margaret Malone and all of our contributors for making this contest possible.
Categories: Flash, Press/Contests