Double or dilute?

voting papers, pic from MorgueFileChances, that is. Last week, after mercilessly punching out redundancy and pruning my tiny story down to the even tinier requisite of 500 words, I submitted the final product to an online competition. My first. Virgin territory. Exhausted, I crawled away to bandage psychic wounds (all those abandoned and unwanted words, left unloved by the literary roadside) and to sleep off the emotional ravages of exposing my soul to public judging. Well ok, bit of dramatic licence there but you know where I’m coming from, right?

Anyway, two days later and an acknowledgment appears. Yes, they received it, yes, the word count is right, and would I like to submit another as the flash category is allowed two? Well it’s an attractive option and, although the deadline is a bit tight, there might be something in my ‘remnants’ drawer that could be shaped up for the purpose. I take a look at ‘Warehouse’ – only a few words over, ideal!

But hang on a minute, does submitting two stories double my chances or halve them? There’s only one winner so only one of them could nab the prize (wishful thinking there in full flight). One of them might get all the votes and be the outright winner (more fantasy here, but in the interests of a mathematical model, as you’ll begin to see), but which one? More likely, if people are attracted to my style (the submissions are anonymised), some might vote for Tale One and others for Tale Two, thereby allowing a third story (not mine) with less than my total vote to sneak in ahead. Hm. It’s the old problem of divided competition; if you want to drive out some old duffer who’s held onto his seat on the council by three votes for the last century, you have to hope the desire to unseat him doesn’t lead to a raft of alternative candidates, each of whom will appeal to a minority of voters thereby ensuring he stays put. You hope for one strong candidate behind whom the populus will stand in order to make the necessary change.

So, on the principle of the divided vote, I have shelved ‘Warehouse’ (did you see what I did there?!) and put all the remaining eggs in my ‘If it ain’t broke..’ basket.

But oh lawdy, what if¬† ‘Warehouse’ would have been the one? This is where fantasy really does come into its own – of course ‘Warehouse’ would have been the one! I will sit and stroke it, hear it purr while I tell it how, given the chance, it would have knocked ’em dead. Yes Precious, pretty Precious, what has it got in its pocketses, Precious…?

I should go get a cup of tea now.

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