Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Second Quarter 2015

First: Six Songs by Catherine Edmunds

Second: Attrition by Emily Devane

Third: Losing the Luck by Catherine Finch

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: The Back of Me by Jamie D Stacey

 

Judge’s Report for the second quarter’s competition 2015 from  JJ Marsh

 

You didn’t make this easy for me, did you? Every one of these stories demonstrated talent and imagination forged with obvious knowledge of the craft.

Many writers excelled in using structure to potent effect, such as Hold the Front Page and Secrets. Others chose to deliver an emotional body blow or belly laugh: First Haircut and Signs.

The ability to conjure a distinctive voice was particularly strong in Viennese Whirls and Pineapple Creams, while Tears in the Sky and An Uncommon Occurrence showed enviable dexterity with the choice of point of view.

Thematically, the range of ideas from reimagined fairytales to domestic violence to changed circumstances was constantly surprising. So many of these short pieces burst off the page through sheer flair with language, finding new ways to make words work harder.

However, the four stories I selected as winners held a combination of all these charms.

 

1st: Six Songs

This finely honed prose evokes far more than 500 words’ worth of atmosphere. The structure allows the sense of drifting inevitability balanced by the unpredictable. Thematic links are woven with delicate sensory details which bring the story to fully-imagined life. The ending left me feel wistful and awed. I wanted to stay in that world.

 

2nd: Attrition

A wonderful blend of structural savvy, powerful yet discreet point of view and pitch-perfect characterisation. It makes you smile and think, not least about the smart title. The twist in the tale is unexpected and delightful, the rooting of the event managed with a light touch. Real skill goes into making something so deceptively simple.

 

3rd: Losing the Luck

Two perspectives and plenty of space for the reader to infer meaning, this is the tipping point where another story shifts. What marks this so memorable is its understated nature and its use of symbolism. It’s also a masterclass in seeing the world through your characters’ emotional states.

 

Highly Commended: The Back of Me

Ferocious energy propels this one, leaving the reader gasping to catch up. This is words as violence. Tense changes move from past memory to all the present immediacy and the moment-to-moment intensity of concentration. Structure, voice, lexical choices and mere hints at the where and when hypnotise and fascinate.

 

Congratulations to the winners. To everyone on this shortlist, thank you for your stories. Your fiction entertained, thrilled, delighted and gave me goosebumps.

Making a decision was agony, but a week spent reading and re-reading your words has been a genuine pleasure.

 

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 Brief Affair by PJ Stephenson

A Life Lived in Colour by Vanessa Savage

A Woman of Three Halves by Rebecca Kemp

After the Gruffs by Taria Karillion

An Uncommon Occurrence by Amanda OCallaghan

Attrition by Emily Devane

Burying the Past by Sally Rosser-Davies

First Haircut by Liz Jennings

Gretal by Carly Pluckrose-Gates

Her First Steps by Jamie D Stacey

Hold the Front Page by Alyson Hilbourne

Ivy by Dora Bona

King of the Castle by Vanessa Savage

Losing the Luck by Catherine Finch

Lost by Kate Harmond Allan

Not a problem by Nigel Tomlinson

Precious Memories by Jean Cogdell

Secrets by Sylvia Fairley

Signs by Karen Jones

Six Songs by Catherine Edmunds

Special Needs by Sue Uden

Tears in the Sky by Jamie D Stacey

The Back of Me by Jamie D Stacey

The Selkie's Kiss by Erin Leach

Viennese Whirls and Pineapple Creams by Safia Moore

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Brief Affair by PJ Stephenson

A Day by the Water by Kimberley Martinez

A Life Lived in Colour by Vanessa Savage

A Return Journey by Tony Beet

A Woman of Three Halves by Rebecca Kemp

After the Gruffs by Taria Karillion

An Uncommon Occurrence by Amanda OCallaghan

Attrition by Emily Devane

Balloons by Sherry Morris

Burying the Past by Sally Rosser-Davies

Casualties by Ian Larkin

Cuckoos and Cauliflower by Jo Derrick

Cyber by Alison V King

First Haircut by Liz Jennings

Gretal by Carly Pluckrose-Gates

Grey by Chris (Christopher) Stanley

Her First Steps by Jamie D Stacey

Hold the Front Page by Alyson Hilbourne

I Forest by Roger Knight

I Like Weddings by Rob Windsor-Clive

Ivy by Dora Bona

King of the Castle by Vanessa Savage

Last Night's Story by Brindley Hallam Dennis

Life Expectancy by Susan Howe

Losing the Luck by Catherine Finch

Lost by Kate Harmond Allan

Meeting Sally by Steve Startup

Not a problem by Nigel Tomlinson

Not to be by Steve Startup

Once a Sparky - Always a Sparky by Kathryn Ratzko

Paper Doll by Sharon Marie Jones

Precious Memories by Jean Cogdell

Preppers by Alison Wassell

Secrets by Sylvia Fairley

Signs by Karen Jones

Six Songs by Catherine Edmunds

Special Needs by Sue Uden

Svart Hund by Erin Leach

Tears in the Sky by Jamie D Stacey

The Back of Me by Jamie D Stacey

The Selkie's Kiss by Erin Leach

Tomorrow Today by Jamie D Stacey

Two in One by Tanya Devany

Viennese Whirls and Pineapple Creams by Safia Moore

Whitewash by Jane Cooper

Wreckage by Jan Deverell