Submitting Competition Entries to Friday Flash Fiction
(i.e. "how to complete the Storybox")
We're always delighted when newcomers join Friday Flash Fiction (referred to within the community as "FFF" to save a lot of time). However, too many writers have their submissions rejected because they fail to complete the Storybox correctly.
What you have to understand is that I effectively edit and run FFF all by myself. When I use "we", it's very much an editorial 'we'. My time is understandably limited, and so I'm looking to copy-and-paste as much as possible from the Storybox, exactly as you send it, and publish it on the website.
Let's look at a Submission form more closely. Here, on the right, we're using the red Classic 100-word Storybox form, because that's all we're accepting during the competition. But the same applies to the blue (Longer 500-word stories) and green (Short Poetry) forms.
I actually start by reading the box marked "Classic FFF Story"(1). Assuming it meets our standards, I create a new 'blog' entry on the 100-Word Submissions page of the FFF website, then copy-and-paste what's in that box directly into the body of the blog post. The only thing I expect to do after that is to 'Select All' and then double the size of the text.
Sometimes people add requests for little bits of formatting within the stories – italics, maybe – and if I can, I try to accommodate those. It's not always possible, and I sometimes simply miss the request. At the same time, we check your wordcount (2) by pasting it into Microsoft Word. By the way, there's no need to include your title in this box as well – it's in the Top Box along with your 'Author Name' already.
All being well, I next go to what I refer to the "Top Box"(3). That's where you state your story title AND YOUR AUTHOR NAME. This is where most of the trouble occurs. The instructions are actually pretty clear. If I'm going to cut-and-paste, I need you to enter everything EXACTLY as follows:
Please make sure you follow this "house style". Only use capitals for the First Letter of each word of your title (DON'T capitalise the whole thing), and for your name. Between the title and your name, add a comma, a space, "by" (NOT "By"), then another space.
IF YOU DON'T DO IT EXACTLY THIS WAY, I'M AFRAID YOUR STORY WILL BE REJECTED – IT WON'T EVEN APPEAR ON THE WEBSITE. THAT PARTICULARLY APPLIES DURING COMPETITIONS.
You still have a few things to complete. You must state your own real name (4). This is simply a security check, although can use pseudonyms in FFF. Please note though that you can only have one identity in FFF, so once you choose a pen name, you're stuck with it. Any pseudonym must be credible, and have both a first and a second name. Make sure your email address (5) is correctly typed and valid.
Then there are three check boxes (6) to take care of. Children and vulnerable people contribute to our site, so we try to do some basic checks on our authors. You're not allowed to hide your identity behind a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Additionally, you have to grant GDPR permission to store your name on the FFF server (that's a technicality – it's our webhoster's server). Finally, we ask you to let us know if this is your first submission.
Finally, before you click the SEND MY STORY button (7), please check that you've completed that top box correctly as illustrated above. Around 40% of all submissions are currently rejected because authors get so excited that they just send their story no matter what it looks like.
Got that? OK, clicking on the button below will take you back to the main submissions page, then head for your selected category.
Gordon Lawrie (editor), December 2021