Today I am so pleased to welcome J. Scott Coatsworth to Joyfully Jay. Scott has come to talk to us about the Ink Anthology. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!

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Why Flash Fiction?

Every year, I ask every speculative fiction author I know to write a 300-word story for the annual Queer Sci Fi flash fiction contest. The folks who manage the QSF group choose a one-word theme, and writers use it as their starting point to craft a tiny short story.

Sounds easy, right? 300 words? Pffft. I could do it in my sleep.

But any author who has tried it will tell you it’s much more difficult than you’d think.

Stories are comprised of character, plot, and scene. Each of these requires words to convey to the reader. In short stories, this is usually a few thousand words up to maybe 20k. For novellas, we’re free to roam up to about 50K. And with novels, the sky’s the limit – though generally speaking, that limit’s in the 100-130k range.

But in flash fiction, you’re usually working with 1,000 words or less, and as mentioned above, we limit you to 300.

Authors are verbose creatures, so it should come as no surprise that it’s common for our entrants to write a 1,000 word story in a day, and then spend the next week paring it down to 300 words. Phrases like:

White, fluffy clouds stacked like pancakes flitted their way across the cerulean sky, seemingly in flight from the omnipresent, hot gaze of the sun.

Get shorthanded to:

Clouds flirted with the sun.

And the hunt is on to eliminate every unnecessary word. “Were not” becomes “weren’t.” Ice cream” becomes “gelato.” And hyphenated words are favored because Word counts them as a single, well, word.

Writing flash fiction is one of the most clarifying acts a writer can attempt, because it forces us to distill our story into its smallest possible components.

And every. Word. Counts.

Don’t take my word for it. Pick up a copy of Ink and see what some of the masters of the form can accomplish with that tiny toolbox. You won’t like every story, but they’re short enough that another one is right around the corner.

And if you’re so inspired, start practicing your own tiny short story craft.

The next QSF flash fiction contest is right around the corner, too!


ink anthology coverINK (Noun)

Five definitions to inspire writers around the world and an unlimited number of possible stories to tell:

1) A colored fluid used for writing

2) The action of signing a deal

3) A black liquid ejected by squid

4) Publicity in the written media

5) A slang word for tattoos

The anthology features 300-word speculative flash fiction stories from across the rainbow spectrum, from the minds of the writers of Queer Sci Fi.


QSF is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:


  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • By entering you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out by the contest for entries.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize. In order to facilitate prize distribution, the winner name’s and email may be provided to a third party awarding the prize.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Void where prohibited by law.