Many readers of classic literature, fantasy, and speculative fiction find that writing is contagious: they want to write like their favorite authors. From Hobbit Day (September 22) until Halloween 2015, Signum University ran its first-ever creative writing contest, hosted by Sørina Higgins, faculty member and Chair of the Department of Language & Literature. It was called the “Almost an Inkling” contest in honor of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and their friends in the creative writing group of Oxfordians that met throughout the 1930s and 40s. Many of the pieces submitted share something of their sensibility and their vision.
This contest called for submissions of tiny original works: creative, imaginative, wild, well-crafted pieces of what William Nelles calls “microfiction,” “flash fiction,” “sudden fiction,” “minute stories,” “short-shorts,” or what Luisa Valenzuela calls “iridescent insects.” These miniature works of fiction showcased writers’ skills in a microcosm, calling for deft handling of character, plot, action, and description in a bite-sized space—or the surface area of a smartphone screen.
Each week for six weeks, new prompts were posted, calling for minuscule stories on a variety of exciting topics. There were portals, dragons, knights, time travel, spells, and sonnets. Everyone was invited to submit entries to this contest; contestants did not need to be associated with Signum University or the Mythgard Institute to send in their work. Writers were encouraged to submit multiple entries to any prompt and to any week in any combination. The public was invited to vote on their favorite entries. There were one winner and two runners-up in two categories each week: one chosen by popular vote, one by the literary judges. There were frequently ties.
The result of this contest is a rich and varied body of short works of literature: immersive, captivating, speculative, funny, heartbreaking, breathtaking, and transcendent. Each is, in its own small-sized way, a work of compelling subcreation: the art of making a new secondary world out of pre-existing real-world and legendary elements in combination with astonishing imaginative creations. Perhaps Tolkien and Lewis would be proud.
The Soul of Wit will be released on Friday, July 8, 2016!