Scott said in the comments:
1. You don't have to fill five pages if you don't want/need to.
2. It doesn't have to be experimental; it could be a short story or other example of your writing. But it could be experimental.
3. We aren't looking for anything in particular, so don't think we are. We don't know what we're looking for. We're just looking. That's what we mean by "free-form." You don't have to break down the barriers of form and structure, but you can if you want. Hell, we don't even know what "break down the barriers of form and structure" really means.
This might make it seem even more overwhelming because I know that I freeze up when I'm faced with something so absolutely non-restrictive. Where do I even begin?
I was talking to Simon yesterday and he put it well:
What's hard about it? We woo you with our creativity, you give us 10 pages in an anthology.
Pretty simple, eh?
Okay, okay, it's still daunting. To try and ease some of your fears, I'm going to give you an example. Examples help, right? Keep in mind, this is only to give you an idea of what you could do. Your entry can be completely different.
Michelle's Entry for Notes from Underground
Dear Literary Lab,
Please accept the enclosed entry pages for your contest, Notes from Underground. I'm so excited to enter into such an amazing, fantastic contest. All three of you are absolutely brilliant. Brilliant, I say. I faithfully read your blog every day, and I'm always blown away by your brilliance. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. If I was an agent I'd publish you all right away. Yes, yes, I would.
(really, don't say things you don't mean...we do like honesty...)
Since I know you guys aren't super-picky, I've estimated the five-page entry to the best of my ability. I've used 12-point Times New Roman font for the prose, 1" margins, and I've attached the VIRUS-free pages to this email. I will now wow you with my creativity.
(you don't have to include a cover letter, but you can...cover letters can be used to explain stuff we might not immediately get with our brilliance...anything goes, remember)
1st part - a flash fiction piece:
2nd part - a poem:
Okay, that poem really needs work, but you get the idea.
3rd part - my short research paper about one of Flannery O'Conner's stories because she's amazing and I think I sound smart when I talk about her.
(paper continues...and seriously, you do NOT have to turn in anything academic. This is just me. I was an English major and like stuff like this. See, this free-form thing is all about me the writer. It can be all about you, the writer. Turn in weird stuff - we don't mind.)
4th part - a photo I took just to say oh, look, a pretty picture! (yes, your photos should be a .jpg please)
5th part - a paragraph explaining my goals as a writer and a little bit more about me:
You know, if I was actually doing this for reals and not slapping it together in an hour, I'd probably write that above thing in some sort of poem or something creative like that. Prose is just fine, too.
- turn in a query for your novel
- give us your publishing credentials
- attach pictures of your really cool apartment or writing workspace
- tell us about your favorite class in college and why
- introduce us to your pet dog or goldfish, etc.
Anything, you guys, anything!
So does this help? I'm around all day, so please leave questions in the comments if you have them. I'll try to answer to the best of my ability, as will Davin and Scott (I think...if they are around today).