Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries First Quarter 2011

 

 

First: Runnin’ the River by Trish Nicholson

Second: How the Garden Grows by Rhoda Thompson

Third: We Are Stardust by Douglas Bruton

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: Perfect Day by Alison Packer

 

Judge’s Report for the first quarter’s competition 2011 from Douglas Jackson

Life - how we live it - and death are subjects which preoccupy every writer, so it wasn’t altogether surprising that the shortlist for the latest Flash 500 competition was predominated by both, with a rather worrying tilt towards the latter. Darkness was the prevailing theme, but fortunately the quality on offer served to drive away any tendency towards gloom.

The one thing that surprised, and, if I’m honest, slightly frustrated me was the way that almost every story stuck rigidly to a very conventional short story structure. We enter a character’s mind, either in the first or the third person, we are led along a certain path, and at the last moment we are treated to an unexpected, possibly disturbing twist. I believe a competition like this is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with radical ideas in structure or voice and I’d like to think that in future Flash 500 lists we might see a more experimental approach in some of the stories offered.

That said, every story which made it to the list had something special to offer, whether in subject, the quality of the writing or in the dramatic sting in the tail, and it was a pleasure to read them. Only a few, however, managed to combine all three and I didn’t find the task of whittling them down to the top six or seven too difficult. That was when my problems started.

These are the stories that made it to my shortened short list.

We Are Stardust

Runnin’ The River

This Moment In Time

Bye, Bye Blackbird

Lucy Counts The Walls

How The Garden Grows

Perfect Day

They were all strong contenders, with consistently excellent writing, strong voices and interesting story lines which came to either a surprising or satisfactory conclusion, and one of them made it for the additional reason that it bucked the trend of wall to wall misery. In the end, however I had to choose four.

1st: Runnin’ The River

I was immediately drawn to Runnin’ The River because of the uniqueness of the voice and the simplicity of the writing. Here is a man enjoying a meal in a restaurant where he’s obviously a well known regular and musing over his life’s choices, good and bad. Halfway through we realize he has an appointment to keep, but there’s no hurry. The atmosphere is relaxed, even though he admits he’s a little nervous. Three short lines of dialogue later the reality dawns like a kick in the stomach. Brilliantly executed, if you’ll pardon the pun.

2nd: How The Garden Grows

Wonderful writing that gets right to the heart of what it is to be different, or ‘special’ as the author of the piece puts it. Each little vignette from Fiona’s life takes us further into her world and allows us to feel her hopes and frustrations. She knows she’s different, but that doesn’t make her any less human, and in the final shocking revelation she’s determined to prove it.

3rd: We Are Stardust

Some beautiful writing, excellent description and an interesting voice in this poignant short story with an uplifting ending.

Highly Commended: Perfect Day

During my various readings I always had Perfect Day in my mind because it was so much brighter than most of the other stories. First class storytelling, a wonderful sense of place and perfectly captures that desperate need creative people have to be told how good they are.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

We received an incredibly high number of submissions for the first quarter of this year. Thank you to everyone who entered.

 

Shortlisted Entries for the First Quarter 2011 — in alphabetical order

 

A Clear Shot

Back-Seat Driver

Baking Day

Bye Bye Blackbird

Caught between a stick and a hard place

Henry's Wives

How the Garden Grows

Lucy Counts the Walls  

Mother's Hats 

Mother's Pride

Mrs Hooper

Not So Sweet Sorrel

Now or Never

Now's the Day

Perfect Day

Runnin' the River

Screen Wash

Shooting Vultures

Tasty Dish 

The Most Beautiful Sight in Las Vegas

The Vase

The Will

Think Positive

This Moment in Time

We Are Stardust

 

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Clear Shot

A Moveable Feast

Back-Seat Driver

Baking Day

Best Friends

By Popular Demand

Bye Bye Blackbird

Catch of the Day

Caught between a stick and a hard place

Elephant Grass Farm

Feed

For the Love of Adam

Heirloom

Henry's Wives

How the Garden Grows

Ladies Man

Losing Things

Lucy Counts the Walls

Mother's Hats

Mother's Pride

Mrs Hooper

Not So Sweet Sorrel

Now or Never

Now's the Day

Perfect Day

Pilgrimage

Rainy Sunday

Red like My Shoes

Runnin' the River

Screen Wash

Shooting Vultures

Take One Tablet Twice a Day

Tasty Dish

The End

The House

The Hunger Game

The Last Laugh

The Most Beautiful Sight in Las Vegas

The Vase

The Will

Think Positive

This Moment in Time

Tosca

Tweet Net

We Are Stardust