What is AdHoc Fiction?
For those who don't know, AdHoc fiction is a weekly competition in which writers enter a 150 word story that contains a specified key word. The stories are voted on by the public and the winner each week gets free entry into the Bath flash fiction award proper which has a top prize of £1,000.
I am always surprised at how effectively the public vote system is in choosing the best work, and the winners are always tiny gems of real literary quality. I entered five consecutive competitions myself last year without winning or deserving to either!
The skills that the winners of this competition never fail to impress me. And I cannot help but check the winners from time to time. This month I came across 'Just a Crisp' by Alison Wassell which you can read here.
Alison kindly agreed to tell me a bit about how her winning entry came about.
Alison Wassell - The Interview:
How often do you enter stories on AdHoc fiction?
I've only ever entered three times.
How did you approach the key word?
I just let it float around in my head, with all the other rubbish that's in there, for a day or so. The key word was 'crisp', and could have been a noun or an adjective. I had a few different ideas. Then when I was bored in work I read an article on The Guardian website written by someone whose sister suffered from anorexia, and that became my inspiration.
Did you outline your piece before you wrote it?
No. I'm not much of a planner, either in life on in writing.
How did you approach the writing / redrafting of 'Just a Crisp'?
I 'write' very short stories in my head when I'm walking to work at 7am in the mornings. The walk takes about 40 minutes, which is plenty of time for 150 words. I fiddle around with the words on my way home, or going round the supermarket. Which I suppose counts as redrafting.
Roughly how long did you spend writing 'Just a Crisp' ?
Probably less than two hours, in total.
Do you tell others when you have posted a story?
In the past I have posted on Twitter etc. that I've entered. To be honest I've always been a bit cynical about these competitions with a public vote. I thought they were probably won by people with lots of friends who were told which story to vote for. But I can honestly say that this time I told absolutely nobody.
Do you think about your story much during the week it's up on the AdHoc site for the public vote?
No. Mainly because I assume I have next to no chance of winning. I just send it out there and get on with the next thing.
Do you enjoy writing within to the 150 word limit?
Yes. My winning story was actually less than 130 words long. I was always criticised, at school, for not being 'more prolific' in my writing, and it always really annoyed me, because I say what I've got to say, and then I stop. Flash fictions suits me perfectly. The shorter the better.
What advice would you give to other writers having a go at the AdHoc fiction competition?
Just have a go and don't take it too seriously. Nothing is ever wasted. If you end up with something you're even slightly happy with, that's something to work with and build on, and it costs you nothing. That tiny germ of a story could become something much bigger. Or it could stay small and, with a bit of editing, end up published elsewhere.
Read More of Alison's work.
Alison's work is currently available in two anthologies (and I'm pretty sure that there are more anthologies in the pipeline). So, if you like the AdHoc piece you might like some of these other pieces too.
The most recent anthology I've appeared in is A Box Of Stars Beneath The Bed, the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2016. I have 2 pieces in that.
Also the anthology of women's writing My Baby Shot Me Down (Blinding Books 2014) has a selection of my work.
I've just bought them myself. And I can't wait to read them.