And the winner is . . .

This year's winner and finalists were chosen by three judges, with input from other readers. The stories picked were ones that earned a thumbs-up from all three judges or a particularly strong thumbs-up from two of them. As has been the case in previous contests, each judge had favorites that didn't make the cut.

We are very grateful to all the professionals who took time to share writing tips with us:

Nathan Bransford: Five Components to a Good Plot
Anton Chekhov: The Center of Gravity
C. Hope Clark: Daily Matters
Susann Cokal: How to Get to the Heart of a Villain
Evil Editor: First Impressions
Michelle Elvy: Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Kathy Fish: Fifty Random Sentences or How to Face the Blank Page
Camille Griep: The Art of Refinement
Alissa Grosso: Avoiding Infodumps: Tips on Conveying Information Without Boring Your Readers
Jude Hardin: Pipeline to Originality
Danette Haworth: Get a Professional Critique
Davin Malasarn: Impress Yourself
Alan Orloff: Getting Unstuck
Stephen Parrish: Kick the Bear
Midge Raymond: Think Outside the Book
Robin Stratton: The Red Flags of Bad Writing
Jill Talbot: Go Ahead, Fall Apart
Mark Terry: My Name is Mark, and I Have a Freakin’ Problem

And to the celebrity writers (and to Sarah Hina, who recruited them):

Charlotte Brontë
E.M. Forster
Jonathan Franzen
Jhumpa Lahiri
Gabriel García Márquez
Patrick F. McManus
Ayn Rand
George Saunders
Zadie Smith
David Foster Wallace

Finally, we have to acknowledge the shortest entry, #106, Last Visit to Nan, by Bart Van Goethem. If we were running a 14-word contest this entry would surely be a contender. We can afford to reproduce it here in its entirety:

“Why didn't she just hand me the money,” he sobbed on the witness stand.

A finalist is someone who should have won, yet didn't, for the sole reason that there can only be one winner. Congratulations to:

Finalist: #3 Craig Czury, Hurricane Sandy

Finalist: #4 Deb Smith, New Mexico

Finalist: #6 Darrelyn Saloom, Cold Snap

Finalist: #24 Betsy Locke, Moving Day

Finalist: #26 J.H Yun, Sundays for the Faithful

Finalist: #38 Epiphany Ferrell, Wishing Fountain

Finalist: #44 Maggie Libby Davis, To Make a Man

Finalist: #69 Chelsea Resnick, Grief Measured

Finalist: #73 Lisa Pellegrini, Murmurs

Finalist: #75 Ashley Hutson, 12303 Boyd Road

Finalist: #77 Dino Parenti, Incarnate

Finalist: #78 Andy Lavender, The Refractive Index for Human Skin is 1.44

Finalist: #83 Emma McMorran Clark, Ages

Finalist: #88 Alexander Weinstein, The Library of Failures

Finalist: #93 Heidi Heimler, Stay A While

Finalist: #98 Jonathan Todd Riley, Shadow Pets

Finalist: #117 Bradley Potts, Orbiting, Day 271

Finalist: #123 Katie Cortese, Faking It

The winner of the 2014 Lascaux 250 Fiction Contest, the recipient of the virtual medallion depicted above, $284 in cash, and publication in The Lascaux Review, is

WINNER: #19 Jodi Barnes, Counting

Steve’s thinks: There are several stories here, all well told, and all the more so because of the limited space. First we’re treated to a remarkably vivid description of the girl’s life before the accident, which when first mentioned creates contrast strong enough that we want to read on. Then her recovery and adaptation; the chipping nail paint is a fresh and canny way to mark the passage of time. Finally what happens in the present when she visits her grandmother’s grave, and the last line, which creates a breathless moment.

I love the details: “the consonants in rhythm,” “her Spiderman sneakers.” My favorite is “I’ll pick you up; no questions asked.” Because that simple line of dialogue, the only one in the story, tells us so much. It’s what moms and dads say when their kids have big nights out: “Call me if you get into trouble, all will be forgiven if you just give me a chance to rescue you from the trouble.” We identify with this, and can therefore see everything else. Her prom dress. The dorky looking drummer (what was that band’s name again?). Mom and dad sitting up late, saying little, furtively watching the clock. One simple expression can paint a big picture.

When I encounter alliteration my guard normally goes up, because it’s hard to execute without sounding clever. In this story the letter P is alliterated heavily. Yet it’s subtle and innocuous in a way only a journeyman writer can pull off. (And now you’re reading the story again to see what I’m talking about, which proves my point.)

“Counting” is a textbook example of writing made more powerful by relentless editing, by the necessity of rationing words. The word count is 249—the author has one to spare for another project! By comparison, my analysis is 318 words long. And there you have it.

Jodi, we owe you 284 bucks.

Next is a poetry contest. The entry fee is $10, the prize is $1000, and poets can enter as many as five poems per submission. The deadline is 21 June. Submissions are already open:
We hope to see you there.

—Camille, Steve, Wendy, and the rest of the Cave Dwellers


Irena Pasvinter said...

I would have expected for Anton Chekhov to make it into the list of celebrity writers, but apparently this year he will have to make do with being a "professional".

Lisa Pellegrini said...

Oh, my! Thank you so much to all of the judges for choosing me as a finalist. I am so honored! This contest was a lot of fun. Congratulations to all of the other finalists, too. Jodi, your piece is BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations!

Lisa Pellegrini said...

I feel like I left someone out, so in case I did, I would like to thank everyone at the Lascaux Review!

Dino Parenti said...

Congrats Jodi! I loved that story. As I do with each of these contests, I keep a running tab of my top five, and I'm glad to say yours was there. Really lovely work.

Jonathan Riley said...

Wow! I'm so grateful to be chosen as a finalist among all these wonderful stories. Congrats to all the other finalists and congratulations to Jodi for taking home the Gold. It was well deserved. Tremendous story. Thank you to everyone at Lascaux who put this together and to those who read and judged the stories. I enjoyed this contest thoroughly and can't wait until next year's.

Wendy said...

Irena, just to clarify, the "professionals" were the people who offered writing tips for the benefit of the writing community. The "celebrity" writers were people we excerpted as fun "bonus" entries -- as if they were writing flash fiction themselves. Neither of their categorizations are a reflection of stature. As free as Mr. Chekhov often was with his writing advice, I'm sure he would have been delighted to be able to impart wisdom no matter which category he was in.

And, really, the important thing is that a handful of people made a significant effort to share these things with some wonderful writers (the entrants) who took the time to write and/or read the entries -- writers who were bold enough to share their work on an open stage.

That, to me, is the most wonderful part of all.

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by to support our efforts to build a great (and supportive) writing community.

Heidi said...

Huge congrats to Jodi, and all the other fabulous writers. Winners, one and all. I'm thrilled to be a part of it all. Thank you!

Lisa Agosti said...

Congrats Jodi! Your piece is amazing, it had to win. Good job everyone else, it was a pleasure to share this experience with all of you. I learnt so much from reading your stories. Until next time!

Tina M. said...

Congrats to all the winners!

Andy Lavender said...

Really pleased to be selected as a finalist, alongside so many other fantastic flash fiction pieces.

Jodi's winning entry was wonderful.

Congratulations to everyone!