Flash Fiction Contest


1) There are none. Just make it short, sweet, and about our theme.

The word manifesto, according to Wikipedia, “is derived from the Italian word manifesto, itself derived from the Latin manifestum, meaning clear or conspicuous. Its first recorded use in English is from 1620, in Nathaniel Brent’s translation of Paolo Sarpi’s History of the Council of Trent: “To this citation he made answer by a Manifesto” (p. 102). Similarly, “They were so farre surprised with his Manifesto, that they would never suffer it to be published” (p. 103)[4]

When the term “Manifesto” was voted to be the flash fiction theme for the VOTEMEAL issue, the entire team at Oatmeal HQ paced round, leaped on desks, clapped massive paws together, and yowled in blind syncopation. In other words, we went apeshit over this idea because for the first time in its primitive life, Oatmeal Magazine is giving YOU the power of free speech!

But what does that mean, exactly? Here are some tips for concocting your own manifesto, in manifesto-esque format:

1. What is a manifesto? One way to think about it is a clear argument for a way of thinking, or a political, philosophical, or aesthetic practice.

2. Because the people who usually write manifestos are writers toeing the line between the genius and insane, these arguments are sometimes provided in the form of a list. That keeps writers from delving into crazy-sounding theories. Take for example, the whistling 11th point of Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto:

We will sing of the great crowds agitated by work, pleasure and revolt; the multi-colored and polyphonic surf of revolutions in modern capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the arsenals and the workshops beneath their violent electric moons: the gluttonous railway stations devouring smoking serpents; factories suspended from the clouds by the thread of their smoke; bridges with the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers: adventurous steamers sniffing the horizon; great-breasted locomotives, puffing on the rails like enormous steel horses with long tubes for bridle, and the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag and the applause of enthusiastic crowds.

“Bridges with the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers,” you say? We don’t know what that means, but we’ll sure take it!

3. A manifesto isn’t just political. In fact, it’s far from it. The most widely read book is a tossup between the Bible and The Communist Manifesto (we may have just made this fact up) but there are other great works teeming with ideas! Try writing about art. Try writing about legal customs. Try writing about the incorporation of oatmeal as a way to intensify a lackluster life. The possibilities are endless.

Lastly, in a manifesto, everything is fragile. Sentences exist to be said; they exist to be written and to be heard. They also exist to be challenged, because even the most convincing arguments can be met with true contradictions. Nevertheless, Oatmeal strives to hear all existential quandaries you have to say, because in our book the Oatmeal Manifesto for Life is this: Write, and write all the time. Which is why we all need something like Oatmeal Magazine in our lives. Do you get it now? Do you see the freedom that comes from a little oatmeal and some gentle nudging and the occasional poop joke? As the French Surrealist Andre Breton says, “You are no longer trembling, carcass.”

Go forth and submit.