Members of the campus community who enjoy writing can participate in the Flash Fiction Contest underway at Oakland University. The contest is being hosted by OU’s Department of English.

The contest is a celebration of short fiction, including micro fiction, short stories and flash fiction. Authors are welcome to write stories of any genre. The only criteria for the contest is that the stories are between 250 and 1,000 words in length.

There will be two contests, each with their own entry criteria: one for undergraduates and another one for graduate students, alumni and staff.

“I usually write fiction,” said Kaitlyn Radoicic, an English major. “I’ve been looking more into poetry lately because I’m taking a poetry and fiction workshop. I usually like stuff that is sci-fi or fantasy, or some sort of not realistic [genre]. I usually write longer stuff.”

Radoicic said the contest intrigued her, and she will most likely enter it.

“I’ve been getting more into flash fiction recently, which is why I’m interested in the contest,” she said.

Radoicic gave advice to those who wish to enter the contest.

“Just [try] being open with what you write about,” she said. “There’s a lot of things I never thought I’d write that I ended up writing and ended up really liking. [My advice is] being open about your inspiration.”

Contestants can draw from anything that they are inspired by, including music, nature, their experiences and their thoughts.

Although not an English or creative writing major, Stephanie Sharpy, a double major studying information security and computer sciences, enjoys writing short stories. She shares her writing with friends and even brings her writing into tabletop role-playing games.

Students like Sharpy show that writers can come from any major, and one doesn’t have to be an English or creative writing major to enter the contest.

“Tropes and stereotypes exist for a reason,” Sharpy said. “As much as you may want to write the most original story on earth, overloading a reader with an abundance of foreign concepts and information only serves to alienate them.”

“If you want to put twists on familiar concepts, give the reader something to anchor to, so they don’t feel completely lost,” Sharpy said.

The deadline to enter the Flash Fiction Contest is March 1, 2017.

Cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50 will be offered to first, second and third place.

Participants may submit as many as three stories. The Department of English is asking authors not to include their names on the stories and instead attach cover pages with the contestants’ names, email addresses, phone numbers and titles of the stories.

Entries may be emailed to OUFlashFiction@gmail.com with “Flash Fiction Contest – Grad/Alum” or “Flash Fiction Contest – Undergrad” in the subject line.

Entries may also be submitted to Assistant Professor Jeff Chapman’s mailbox on the fifth floor of O’Dowd Hall. Winning entries will be published on the Department of English’s website, and an open reading of the winners’ work will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, in Gold Room A of the Oakland Center.

More details can be found on the Department of English webpage.