If, as Polonius said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” then Powell River Public Library has just the event to showcase the breadth and depth of wit by finding the best tiny-story talent in the city.
Registration for the 420 Characters Tiny Story Contest, also known as microfiction, flash fiction and postcard fiction, is now open and will close Tuesday, October 31.
Rules are simple and brief: write a story 420 characters or less in length. Authors are limited to entering three stories each. Entries are judged and prizes are awarded for adults and youth.
Only a spark of an idea is required for a tiny story to develop, according to Claudia Medina, who placed second with one her three entries last year. Just as a novel, short story, essay or poem presents different challenges to a writer, so does writing a tiny story of 420 characters.
"I love doing it; I wish I could do more,” said Medina. "They're just so much fun. It forces you to get to the essence of something, which is really cool.”
As might be expected for a library contest, the idea for the contest came from a book called 420 Characters by Lou Beach.
According to library staff member Sonia Zagwyn, who developed the idea into a contest with rules and workshops, the library started to post some of Beach’s stories on its Facebook page to make it more interesting. Originally, Facebook had a character limit of 420 characters.
"It's a short form, so every word counts and that's something a lot of writers need to learn,” said Zagwyn, "how to use words carefully and think about language.”
A 420-character story is not a tweet. A tweet, as the world now knows from the barrage United States president Donald Trump is prone to pen, is 140 characters.
“Trump was my inspiration,” said Medina about one of her submissions last year. "I wrote something about him called Orange. It's so funny because a lot of people didn't get it, except for the judges."
Beginning September 20, 420 Characters Tiny Story Labs take place at the library’s Teen Room every Wednesday from 2-4 pm. For more information, go to prpl.ca.