Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Fourth Quarter 2013

First: Pauline's Peculiar Predicament by Anthony Farmer

Second: Firebelly by John Murray Lewis

Third: Cast No Shadow by Karl A Russell

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: The Alphabet Game by Pauline Brown

 

Judge’s Report for the fourth quarter’s competition 2013 from Sheila Bugler

 

To write a story in 500 words or under is quite an achievement. Each one of the stories on the shortlist was special in its own way. Having to choose between them was a difficult task and – of course – any judgement of this nature is subjective. A different judge would probably have made different choices.

So, what made some stories stand out more than others? Two things in particular – surprise and humour. I am no expert but I suspect the best flash fiction is that with an unexpected twist in the tale. Sounds in the Night, He Brought Me Orchids, The Alphabet Game, Dressing Up, Firebelly, and the wonderful Pauline’s Peculiar Predicament all end in ways I hadn’t expected. With each one, I smiled and thought: ‘how clever.’

Which brings me to humour. The Alphabet Game, Dressing Up and Pauline’s Peculiar Predicament all made me laugh. Each one has an edge to it and offers a witty and original insight into the female condition. Well done to those authors.

There were many stories in this list I’d like to have given special mention to. The nature of the competition is that I can only choose my top three stories and a Highly Commended.  With great difficulty, I’ve done that. Here they are, along with my comments on what made each one special.

 

1st: Pauline’s Peculiar Predicament

This is so clever, so clever and so well written. The author’s decision to use alliteration throughout reminded me of Vikram Seth’s beautiful novel, The Golden Gate, written entirely in verse. The first time I read this story I snorted with laughter. I smiled broadly and giggled on each subsequent reading. This  alliterative anecdote puts this particularly perceptive piece of prose in prime position (sorry, I just can’t do it nearly as well!).

 

2nd: Firebelly

This story, set in China, shows an exchange between the venerable Shi Shen, apothecary and scholar, and his sick friend, Yang Tao. The two men are near the end of a rich life, their days of fighting demons are long gone. Or are they?

 The story is rich in atmosphere and I am in awe of a writer who can create an entire world of ghosts, demons, friendship and betrayal. The twist in the tale is so clever, and so subtle, I almost missed it the first time. In fact, each time I read this story I found something I had missed in earlier readings. Wonderful.

 

3rd: Cast no Shadow

In my comments above, I said that humour and a twist in the tale were my top criteria for flash fiction. In fact, neither word springs to mind when I think about this story. So why have I chosen it? Quite simply, it’s a beautifully-written piece of fiction.

The story focuses on a town and a terrible accident which destroys the town and those living in it. There is a breadth and depth here that I found particularly impressive. The final paragraph is haunting and beautiful. The central image of the story stayed with me long after I’d finished. I loved this one.

 

Highly Commended: The Alphabet Game

Another story that made me smile. A spurned lover gets her revenge on the man who had lied to her. Except, as the story progresses, she learns she’s not the only one...

This clever story reveals its secrets in exquisite chunks so the reader doesn’t find out what’s going on until the final line – ah, and how clever that is. I suspect the author of this story has spent some time fine-tuning the difficult art of writing flash fiction.

 

We now regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Reputation to Protect by Colin Watts

Arches and Doors by Shirley Golden

Cast No Shadow by Karl A Russell

Dressing Up by Susan Howe

Firebelly by John Murray Lewis

Girl by Claire Whatley

Girl in the Light by David Tombesi-Walton

He Brought Me Orchids by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Hoard by S. Chou

Launch Pad by Diane Simmons

Little Darkness by Karl A Russell

March Hare by Malcolm Galfe

Meh by Graham Chester

Monster by Vanessa Savage

Object of Local Importance by Peter Burns

One Stop Shop by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Pauline's Peculiar Predicament by Anthony Farmer

Rugby Club Heroes by Phil McNulty

Sounds in the Night by Eran Wesselius

The Alphabet Game by Pauline Brown

The Bedroom Tax by Susan Howe

The Photos on Their Phones by Russell Reader

The Scent of Lilac by Mandy Huggins

Underneath Her Clothes by Alice Parrant

You Closed Your Eyes by F.C. Malby

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Friend of Uncle's by F.C. Malby

A Geranium by Any Other Name by Pauline Brown

A Reputation to Protect by Colin Watts

Arches and Doors by Shirley Golden

Bit By Bit by Pauline Brown

Bobby Dreams His Girl Alive Again by Mary Blain

Brother by Alex Fusco

Cast No Shadow by Karl A Russell

Civilisation by Rebecca Sowray

Dressing Up by Susan Howe

Entrapment by Annemarie Allan

Firebelly by John Murray Lewis

Footsteps on the Stairs by Barrie Pennington

Girl by Claire Whatley

Girl in the Light by David Tombesi-Walton

Going Back by Frances Colville

He Brought Me Orchids by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Hoard by S. Chou

Hunting the Black Man by Gary L. Sidley

I Spy a Boy by Mark Allerton

Jay Bee and Crew by Charlotte Gringras

Launch Pad by Diane Simmons

Little Darkness by Karl A Russell

Love Ties by Vanessa Horn

March Hare by Malcolm Galfe

Meh by Graham Chester

Monster by Vanessa Savage

Object of Local Importance by Peter Burns

One Stop Shop by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Pauline's Peculiar Predicament by Anthony Farmer

Rugby Club Heroes by Phil McNulty

Sounds in the Night by Eran Wesselius

Tears of a Clown by Leah Osbourne

The Alphabet Game by Pauline Brown

The Bedroom Tax by Susan Howe

The Creation by Kevin McNicholas

The Heat and Quickness by Michael Culbertson

The Krampus by Dan Watters

The Nightcomer by Ray Targett

The Photos on Their Phones by Russell Reader

The Return by Catherine Edmunds

The Scent of Lilac by Mandy Huggins

Thirty Years by Amanda O'Callaghan

Time by Russell Turner

Tossing Basil by Chris Fewings

Train Connection by Sylvia Fairley

Underneath Her Clothes by Alice Parrant

Val by Cheryl O'Brien

Wrang Time, Wrang Place by Richard Thomas

You Closed Your Eyes by F.C. Malby