Why are the limits on the entries for short story competitions getting shorter and shorter? I know we’re supposed to have the attention span of gnats these days but, on the other hand, the short story is allegedly in the ascendant, so why not give us something to work with?
I fell upon the the most recent edition of ‘Mslexia’ with naive optimism as usal, some days back, only to find that word limits are continuing to plummet, some as low as 200 words – What? I thought that was a postcard! – and that there was hardly any competition into which I could squeeze an entry. I consider 5,000 a decent read, and a decent write, for that matter, though I would prefer the latitude of something between eight and ten thousand. You can probably count on the finger of one finger the number of competitions that offer that luxury these days. Worst of all, the much-vaunted Manchester fiction prize has halved its limit from 5,000 to 2,500 this year. Too much trouble reading the entries, I suppose.
Funny though, once you’re established, you can do what you damn well pleasy. I’ve just finished reading ‘Cold Sea Stories’ by Pawel Huelle, and the stories in that anthology vary enormously in length. Come on, folks, what happened to biodiversity in the short story?