Support, Validation & Inspiration: Mash Stories

Writing.ie | Resources | Submission Opportunities

Jennifer Harvey

As a writer, there are thousands of competitions to which you could submit your stories. All you have to do is pay them, and follow all their rules — Ariel instead of Times New Roman, or font size 12 instead of 11.5. At Mash Stories, you set your own rules, and we pay you if you win. We evaluate your story for its content, and not its formatting. We help you promote your work, rather than demanding exclusive rights to it.
We’re an international team of creative writers and editors who understand the importance of a platform that not only gives writers exposure, but free feedback too. We want to see what you write, and so does our growing website readership.

Mash Stories is a new short story competition based on an idea first developed by Anthony Burgess. Take three random words, mash them together and see if they form a coherent and interesting story.

The first three words Mash Stories sent out into the world were: tennis ball, bunker and animal rights.

As randomness goes it’s pretty difficult to get much quirkier.

But the words seemed to resonate and over the course of our first quarter we found ourselves reading a wonderful variety of fascinating stories. It’s what you dream of, of course, when you set up a writing competition, that writers will embrace your idea and be inspired to produce brilliant short stories.

Our first winner was such a gem. “Nearly Nine” by Miles Rausch cleverly pulled together the lives of four separate characters in a complex and thrilling tale. What we liked about this story was the way Miles managed to create interesting characters and develop a narrative around them that was well paced and exciting.

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It’s a very difficult thing to do within the constraints of a 500 word story. Add to that the requirement that you must use three random and seemingly unrelated words and you can really begin to appreciate just what it is that Miles has achieved in his piece.

You can read or listen to Miles’ story on the Mash Stories website.

We are now into our third quarter and one of the most encouraging things so far has been seeing the same writers submit their stories.

Bill Bibo Jr has had two stories make our shortlist and he has truly embraced the sheer fun of trying to mash together the words.

Recently he sent us an uplifting link to a post he wrote about his experience with Mash Stories which really gave the team a boost.

In his post he explains a little about the creative prod the three word challenge provides.

“You take the words inside, let them sit there in the back of your mind, rolling around with the dust, the muck, the zombies, the devils, the angels, all your problems, all your answers, and then it happens. Something clicks and from those three words comes a life, a story starts to grow.”

When you receive feedback like this, you start to realise you may be on to something.

Especially because we would like to see Mash Stories develop into a community that supports and inspires writers. We want it to be more than just a writing competition. To this end we have now initiated a feedback system. One of the things that frustrates us as writers entering competitions is the lack of feedback. Once you enter a competition it’s out of your hands. All you can do is wait and see if you win a prize or achieve a mention. More often than not this doesn’t happen and you can be left wondering just how far your story actually came during the judging process. What was it about your story that failed to make the grade? Did any of the sifters or readers actually like it?

We feel that writers need a little encouragement sometimes and feedback can really help a writer to improve their craft and to keep going. So far the response to our feedback has been very positive and many writers have written to us telling us how much they appreciate it. Having this level of interaction with our writers is certainly something we want to put at the heart of Mash Stories. It’s something you can also see in our voting process. Stories that make our shortlists have all received a majority vote from our jury but we want visitors to our site to get involved in choosing the winners from this list.

After all, a shortlist is still just the personal opinion of our judges and we want to balance this out by involving our readers in the voting process. So each quarter the shortlist is posted on our site and readers can vote for their favourites and comment on the stories they enjoy.

Since its inception, Mash has grown to include a whole host of new features.

We now have a blog and the first edition of our magazine has been issued.

All of our shortlisted stories are recorded as podcasts and we have a wonderful cast of professional voice over actors who are helping us with this.

It’s really interesting to produce stories in a different media and to see them come to life in new and exciting formats and so far our shortlisted writers have been delighted with the results. We hope that our readers will come to view Mash Stories as a community that helps them develop their writing.

If you are intrigued and want to know more, please visit our website at www.mashstories.com

Or why not send us a story. Our current words are: Cathedral, monkey and relativity.

(c) Jennifer Harvey

Judge @ Mash Stories

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