Otepoti Micro Fiction Challenge by

Ōtepoti Micro Fiction Challenge 2018

The inaugural Ōtepoti Micro Fiction Challenge came hot on the heels of National Flash Fiction Day.

 At our regional event for National Flash Fiction Day on June 22nd, the audience were provided with 6 words: mandarin, office, frustrated, temple, ecstatic and grass. With a word count of 50, they were then encouraged to create a micro fiction story.

As MC for the night, it was wonderful to hear pens clicking, paper being scribbled upon and laughter as the audience began crafting stories. Then there was a fortnight deadline to tweak and submit micros.

All up I received 11 entries. Akahoa he iti pounamu, such treasures these small things were, and every submission contained a fantastic one-liner.

In terms of judging, I looked for several things: a story that had an unexpected twist, or ending; creative use of the compulsory words; no redundant words, because every word counts with short form fiction; layered meanings that required a re-read; creative use of white space and dialogue. The top 3, in no particular order are: Helen Caldwell, Victor Billot and Sue Cheer.

Whakawhetai ki a koutou, thanks to everyone who entered, and for the support from Dunedin Public Libraries and Dunedin City of Literature.

The Offering, By Helen Caldwell

Frustrated feet dance under the table. Fingertips press into a throbbing temple. She offered to stay late at the office – anything to help him.

I’m happy to be here, she tells herself. Ecstatic.

Sunlight slopes across the floor.

Outside, he lies on sun-frazzled grass, feeding mandarin segments to his lover.

The Mandarin, By Victor Billot
The mandarin in national office was quietly ecstatic. Beneath his Lambton Quay temple, little figures ate sandwiches on the grass. Frustrated taxi drivers beeped. When they returned from lunch, brown envelopes of bad news awaited them. His contract ended next week, and the mandarin was confident of a hefty bonus.

Detours, by Sue Cheer
Mandarin music folded away with peasant blouses and flowing skirts. Barefoot ecstatic dreams buried beneath the grass. It’s been 20 years. My office sterilised in buzzing fluorescent light. I’m all pencil skirts, pantyhose, 3-inch heels. Frustrated by temples of columned numbers. I can’t find my error.