Down News Runs Free Lockdown Flash Fiction Competition

Down News is running a free FLASH FICTION competition.

As a distraction in the current Covid-19 crisis to the many people who enjoy reading and literature and generally enjoy the arts, Jim Masson, editor of Down News has decided to provide a small prize for a FREE competition in FLASH FICTION.

Jim Masson said: “We are living through a very difficult time with Covid-19, and the experience of the lockdown is something we are not used to. We are only a short time into this dreadful limitation on our lives and for many it will be stressful, for others a welcome break from the grind of life.

“So, I’ve devised a cunning plan. A distraction. The topic for this flash fiction is:


“Your task is to capture in less than 250 words in fiction the essence of lockdown in the flash fiction. Let your imagination loose on it! Time to rock n’roll!”

What on earth is Flash Fiction, some of you may ask?

Well, it’s in the title – ‘flash’, short and snappy, and ‘fiction’, a story.

Some of you may never have heard of this interesting and popular genre of creative writing. It is quite demanding of your writing sensibilities and could even drive you up the wall as you fuss over a word or a full stop.

Basically, you include, within your tight, strict word limit, the key elements of a good story – a maximum of two characters, a plot, a theme, and you write minimalistically. It is in essence pure fiction, a distilled version of a short story or even a novel. It is very, very short and grabs you. It’s a burst of brevity.

Flash fiction is not a short story. It is something entirely different. It is a writing form that is brutally succinct. It’s a very stripped-down form of writing. It’s lean and can be mean.

Inspiration can come to you in a ‘flash’. You can take a comic, dramatic or tragic approach… it’s really about capturing the emotion of the moment.

You may be cooking the supper in a dream, watching TV, changing a nappy, painting a bedroom, or even working at home. Somewhere in that mix of people locked in together, you may be facing an uncertain future economically, sensing the ultimate fear of death, or having a cough that you wish you did not have, or you are missing family members you love. You may simply be hungry, or lonely. Even with life on the internet… we might be living on Mars such is this strange experience of being isolated in LOCKDOWN.

We can’t touch and hug safely anymore and as social beings this can be painful. And the threat of domestic abuse is ever present in fragile relationships that are put under increasing pressure because of these extraordinary circumstances we currently live in.

So, it’s time to let your imagination loose and get creative! Get in touch with your thoughts and emotions in the here-and-now!

What more on the characteristics of flash fiction? Here are a few guides on how to approach writing flash fiction.

  • write a title that reveals what your flash fiction is about.
  • every word must play a part on the story – or eject it.
  • create vibrant characters – no more than three but two is good. You don’t even have to mention their names. Be brief.
  • ensure the ‘point-of-view’ is clear e.g. the experience of the person telling the story.
  • touch on the narrator’s emotions.
  • surprise and shock your reader.  
  • add a ‘twist in the tale’ – an ending that really turns things on its head and surprises.
  • use clear and positive imagery.
  • stay in the moment of the experience. Put your mind in a place in time and stay there.

Flash fiction is not poetry, and it’s not a short story.  It is performing a ballet on a sixpence.

The Competition Rules.

  1. The title must be no more than four words.
  2. Maximum of 250 words for the text of the flash fiction story.
  3. Submit the ‘story’ using Microsoft Word or a similar software (in font size 14 if possible.)
  4. It must be submitted by sending to:
  5. You must include your full name, address.
  6. When submitting, please enter “Flash Fiction with your name” in the subject bar in the email.
  7. Down News reserves the right to use the work submitted or editorial promotion in its Arts Section.
  8. The top three best selected flash fictions will be produced on Down News, online newspaper and any others at the discretion of the editor.
  9. The decision of the Down News editor will be final.
  10. The writer must be resident in County Down.
  11. As the stories may be read by persons under 17, content must be suitable for below this age range ie no graphic violence, sexual content, or inappropriate language.
  12. Content must be respectful to age, race, gender, sex orientation, and ethnic origin.
  13. Work must not have been published previously.
  14. Maximum number of entries per person is three.
  15. Closing date and time for final submissions on the above email (in item 4) is Friday 8th May at 5pm.


First:      £50 book gift voucher from Waterstone’s Bookshop.

Second: £25 book gift voucher from above.

Third:     £25 book gift voucher from above.

Prize winners will be announced on Down News on Friday 15th May.

Vouchers can be used to purchase books online from the store, or alternatively directly over the counter when the outlet re-opens after the Covid-19 lockdown.

So folks, it’s time to let your grey matter loose and try and get yourself into print and win a prize.

Who will be the overall winner in the ‘Lockdown Flash Fiction’ competition and wear the laurels?

Could it be you?

Entries are now open !!!


If you have any queries about the competition, please contact Jim Masson at: or phone 028 44 615690.


Check out an example of flash fiction!


“It was the bank of red irises in my garden that made me do it. They made me think. I never knew I had it in me.

“I was getting desperate. The rats were running wild.

“They nested in my woodshed, had a family, invaded my home. Traps finished them off. Perfectly. I had no choice. I was relieved.

“My space was mine again.”

She sipped water from the cup and sniffed.

“And then he arrived. That summer. A stranger. Love was great at first.

“Then nosing in my cupboards, drawers, my papers and bank account. Leaving his dirty underwear for me to pick up.

“Mines was yours he thought taking me for granted. I’d had enough. This had to end.

“The irises bloomed again and spoke to me that summer day.

“I asked him to dig a pit for a garden pond. Finally, he started. On the sixth day he got the digger working. Then he rested.

“One final cut as he dozed on his deckchair. It was over. Perfect.

“He’s resting now, beneath the lilies where the koi carp swim.

“My space was mine again. Forever… and detective, I didn’t want to kill him. He gave me no choice… it was the irises… the bloody irises.”

word count – 209.

Jim Masson.

(Thursday 9th April 2020.)