Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Third Quarter 2011

First: Her by Amanda John

Second: One Last Call by Ray Hoskins

Third: The Last Train Home by Richard Holmes

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: Different Hemispheres by Fiona Neame

 

 

Judge’s Report for the third quarter’s competition 2011 from Simon Whaley

 

I was delighted when Lorraine asked me to judge the latest Flash 500 competition. Having judged the first Flash 500 comp, back in the first quarter of 2010 (crikey, was it really that long ago?) I knew from experience that the standard of entries would be high … and I wasn’t disappointed.

At first, 500 words may not seem sufficient space for a writer to do a story justice, however, it is surprising how much a writer can convey within this restriction. It is possible to tell a story, rather than an anecdote, and that’s what I decided to look for – a story.

The judging process saw me whittle the shortlist down to a final eight pieces, which were:

Chalk

Different Hemispheres

Her

Miss Scarlet in the Shed

One Last Call

Secret Love

The Last Train Home

Waterloo

Interestingly, half of these were written from the first person point of view. This viewpoint is a useful technique when you want to draw your reader into the story quickly – something that is beneficial when you only have 500 words. Three of these stories also had a similar basic idea, although each was developed quite differently.

I’d like to congratulate all those who were shortlisted, in particular my final eight, and ultimately, my top three, who were:

1st: Her

For me, the twist here worked brilliantly. Writing a story within 500 words is difficult: writing one with a twist is even more challenging. A twist story needs to deflect the reader, and this succeeded. The test is to read the story again, looking for the subtle clues that the writer cleverly provides, yet the reader’s eyes fail to spot. The opening paragraph suggests the narrator is the wronged party, yet a second reading identifies the ambiguity. Her flawless symmetry would have caught your breath; her open beauty – her softness – would have stirred you. This was crafted writing, which is why I felt it deserved first place.

 

2nd: One Last Call

Another first person piece: this one conveying the challenges of trying to bring up an autistic child. It’s challenging for any couple and the sticker book is a simple piece of detail that conveys so much. When you’re restricted to 500 words, there’s no room to explain: all you can do is infer. The sticker book inferred so much of the journey these parents had endured to learn how to cope with their autistic son. The story ends with devastation in two ways – the devastation of now, and also the devastation about what the future holds for one particular parent.

 

3rd: The Last Train Home

The different structure stood out here. This is a story told in 32 minutes, on a journey between five stations. Writers are supposed to be people watchers, and this story made me feel as though I was sharing that train, watching what was going on with the other passengers. Again, it’s the smallest details that can convey so much. “Have a chip,” may not seem an earth-shattering conclusion to a short story, but here it is the simplest way to show that the character has resolved their internal conflict.

 

Highly Commended: Different Hemispheres

This was another slightly different structure, which stood out for me. I loved the concept behind it; that whilst we have one brain, it has two hemispheres. Therefore we have two different responses to every one situation our brain has to deal with. The ‘loose’ punctuation did jar with me at first, but this was simply my own left-hemisphere brain having a hissy fit for some logic and order!

~~~

We now regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists have reason to feel proud of their achievement.

 

Short Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

Bye Bye Blackbird

Catalogue of the Northern Renaissance Painters 1430-1580

Chalk

Coq Au Vin

Desert Island Dicks

Destinations

Different Hemispheres

Her

Hostage

John Henry Walter

Lessons

Miss Scarlet in the Shed

Now's the Day

One Last Call

Perfect Day

Secret Love

Starfish Days

The Lad

The Last Train Home

The Ride

The Truth Is

There Will Be No Lace

This Time

Three Legged Cat

Waterloo

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Lake, Laughter

A Shot to Die For

Bedroom

Bone

Bye Bye Blackbird

Catalogue of the Northern Renaissance Painters 1430-1580

Chalk

Coq Au Vin

Desert Island Dicks

Destinations

Different Hemispheres

Dimly Lit

Goodbye, Stranger

Grudge

Her

Hostage

John Henry Walter

Lessons

Miss Scarlet in the Shed

Nnenna

Now's the Day

One Last Call

Perfect Day

Resuscitation and Restoration

Secret Love

Starfish Days

Tease for Two

The Arrangement

The cafe at the top of the steps

The Grim Reaper

The Lad

The Last Train Home

The Light of Life

The Nature of the Beast

The Pinny

The Ride

The Truth Is

The Unbearable Nothingness of Being

There Will Be No Lace

This Time

Three Legged Cat

Transpositions

Waterloo

Winter's Kiss