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Try Out Your Words

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The Middle School takes on the challenge of a weekly micro-flash fiction competition

A school-wide micro-flash fiction competition at King’s Academy has proven particularly popular among Middle School students this year. The weekly competition, which includes a prompt chosen by the previous week’s winner, limits submissions to between 120 and 150 words.

One regular Middle School contributor to the micro-flash fiction competition is Mar Pizarro ’26, who has also won numerous times and subsequently served as prompt writer and judge.

“What I like about the competition is it gives me an opportunity to express myself. And it has helped train me to focus, I can see the effect of the competition when I compare my recent and older writings.”

One of the most challenging aspects of the writing challenge, she says, is keeping to the 150-word limit. “It can be hard, but it teaches you to convey emotions with both complexity and subtlety.”

As the prompt subjects vary a great deal, another challenge Pizarro has learned to embrace is coming up with creative responses. However, her preferred prompts are the “emotional” ones, she says. “You can do whatever you want with them as long as you convey emotion, which can be interesting.”

In one of her favorite winning submissions, Pizarro responds to a prompt that asks writers to ponder the influence of a particular instrument on a character's life, by creating a “Wikipedia page” that briefly chronicles the life of a female inventor of a fictional musical instrument. In another winning submission, she writes from the perspective of a gust of wind in response to a prompt that asks writers to give her “the deepest darkest corners of your mind brought to life...Write what you feel is the personification of despondence.”

“They are fun to write,” says Pizarro, who takes anywhere from half an hour to a week to work on a submission. “I like the ones where I can toy with the idea. The style of writing was very natural and shifting, like wind.”

Pizarro also enjoys the judging process. “I love analyzing books and writing, so seeing what others are doing with the prompts is really interesting. You can’t write a lot, so what defines it for me is what they manage to do with 150 words, how good their writing is, how original their idea is, how well they twist and work the prompt idea and make it dynamic.”

Dean of the Middle School Zina Nasser believes the competition has provided a platform for student self-expression, particularly welcome over the past challenging couple of years. “It helped them feel connected to the school even when they were learning online for the entire year.”

English faculty member Christopher Pultz, who has been running the competition since 2019, is gratified that his community challenge has had an impact. “For those who commit each week to creating a response, it's both a great writing habit and tool for growth.”

Pultz initially came up with the idea of the flash fiction competition after being challenged to consider the importance of prototyping in student learning, and what that might look like in the English classroom.

“I settled on flash fiction as a low-stakes opportunity for students to solve the problem of constructing a narrative in response to a prompt,” says Pultz. “Think of it as a literary makerspace. I give them a space to create. That's all."

Each week, he looks forward to seeing what everyone produces. “That's what's so fun about this competition, seeing how many different directions someone can steer a very simple idea.”

The exercise also highlights the importance of learning by doing, accepting failure and moving forward, Pultz explains.

“Occasionally you might get a win, and that's great, but you have another challenge coming next week, so temper your pride and get ready to find another solution.”


"Stones make rather uncomfortable seats, but they are a reminder that not everything was made with you in mind, you may use this for a while but this stone exists with no purpose other than simply being. I watch the scene before me, strain to hear the world as it unfolds around me. I am over taken by a strange wave of emotion, I realize that just like the stones my purpose is to simply be, I have no way of changing that truth. Like all other living things I am trapped by my freedom."

Mar Pizarro ’26