OddContest - Helpful Definitions & FAQ
What does "speculative" mean?
The word “speculative,” taken literally, can be applied to anything
imaginative, or any work of fiction. However, in an SF&F
(science-fiction-and-fantasy) context (as in our
contest), we narrow the
definition to works that include science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural
horror, or interstitial (falling-somewhere-between-the-cracks) elements; in
other words, the story or poem should involve something that could not take
place in ordinary reality at the present time. Magic realism is also
included here, or whatever the current term is for when “respectable”
authors write this stuff. A poem/story about how wonderful your grandmother
is and how much you love her is not speculative, even if
you are lying. A poem/story about how your grandmother is actually a Gorgon
is speculative. See the
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Writers of America or the
Science Fiction Poetry
Association for more detailed information and more links.
What is the “prose” poem form?
A prose poem is in paragraph form. This means with
no line breaks. A line break is when the poem moves to the
next line (like this)
or the next stanza (like this)
in mid-sentence. A prose poem can be more than one paragraph long, but it
should be formatted as if it were a story or essay. This is
a prose poem:
This is an amazing example of a science-fiction poem, despite the
fact that it has already devoured part of my left leg. If its scales
were iridescent and it had filmy wings, it would be an amazing example
of a fantasy poem (I guess it's a pretty good example of a horror poem
in either case). Now that I look closely (it glanced up, briefly, and
then went back to its munching) there is a faint iridescence on
its gleaming metal scales, but this appears to be due to a light coating
of machine oil rather than to fairy dust. My knee seems to be giving it
a bit of trouble.
This is NOT a prose poem; i.e., a poem formatted like
this, with line breaks, is not eligible for the OddContest:
This is an amazing example
of a science-fiction poem,
despite the fact that it has already
devoured part of my left leg.
If its scales were iridescent
and it had filmy wings,
it would be an amazing
example of a fantasy poem
(I guess it's a pretty good
example of a horror poem
in either case). Now that I look
closely (it glanced up, briefly,
and then went back to its munching)
there is a faint iridescence
on its gleaming metal scales,
but this appears to be due
to a light coating of machine oil
rather than to fairy dust.
My knee seems to be
giving it a bit of trouble.
Poems in form (metered and rhyming, or following a traditional
structure, e.g., haiku) are not prose poems and
thus are not eligible for this contest. Poems written in free verse
(formatted with line breaks, but non-metered and non-rhyming) are sometimes
mistakenly assumed to be prose poems. Just because there are complete
sentences in the poem does not make it a prose poem; it also needs to be
formatted without line breaks; i.e., as a paragraph or paragraphs.
Note that online examples elsewhere have occasionally been inadvertently
modified by site display constraints or incorrect formatting, or are just
plain wrong. See
Poetic Form: Prose Poem or
Wikipedia. And perhaps the article
“Mutable Boundaries” if you’re a glutton for punishment.
The Prose Poem
The Prose-Poem Project
What is "flash" fiction?
A very short story, generally one thousand words or less. For the purposes
of this competition, we have arbitrarily chosen a limit of 500 words, not
counting the title. Note that this is a maximum length; shorter works are
not penalized (there is no minimum length). Flash fiction as defined in
other publications can run anywhere from 6 (Wired
25 (Espresso Stories
or 100, to as long as 3000 words. See
Our current winners
What is the difference between prose poems and flash fiction?
Hmmm. That's a good one. Flash fiction would normally involve a plot, a
story arc, and a dénouement, whereas this is not required in a prose poem
(but is certainly acceptable). A broad spectrum of short works in paragraph
form exists; some works are indubitably one thing or the other, and some
fall in between (see "interstitial," above). There is no definite dividing
line between the two, no matter what you may have heard.
How do you define word count?
We do not include the title or an epigraph in word count—the exception would
be a false epigraph, where the quote and its attribution are entirely
fabricated by the author and intended to serve as an integral part of the
work. Same deal for footnotes. Dedications are not
use standard word-count available in software; if your piece goes over the
limit, it will be excluded from consideration.