Short Story ’22 Winners

Winning Stories no longer available to read

Organiser’s Comments:

The quantity and quality of entries for the 2022 competition was very high. Over 220 stories were sent in, and many thanks must go to the members of the Circle who generously gave their time to select the very best for our guest judge.

The quality of entries was such that many very good stories did not make it past the first sift. If you story did not make the cut, please don’t be discouraged: your story may do well in another competition.

Entries were received from across the world. France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were amongst the international entries this year. Still nothing from Antarctica, though we live in hope.

A big thank you also to Professor Birch. Due to  a medical emergency, getting the final batch of stories to her was delayed, but she was able to judge the stories and list the winners in double quick time.

Judge’s Comments:

It is a convention of creative writing competitions that judges will remark that their job was a hard one.  In this case, the cliché is absolutely accurate.   The overall standard of the entries was very high, and I didn’t read a single story that was without qualities to absorb the reader’s attention: unexpected twists, haunting details, points of humour or tragedy, moments to catch the imagination and resonate within the memory.  Every entrant has reason to be proud of their work, and to feel motivated to continue to write.  Reading this impressive body of short fiction was a rewarding task.

First Prize: ‘Pushed Buttons’ – by David Hartley

A thoughtful and carefully shaped story, unfolding a central metaphor with remarkable force and imaginative control, and delivering a real emotional punch in its conclusion.  This is an impressive piece of work, and a worthy winner.

Second Prize: ‘The Swapling’ – by Steve Wade

This disturbing story hovers between the conventions of a supernatural tale and those of an unflinching account of postnatal breakdown.  Its unsettling implications build gradually, and a chilling conclusion lingers in the mind.

Third Prize:  ‘The Silver Gilet Was my Downfall’ – by Cara Kliman

Deceptively down-to-earth in tone, this was a story that developed its exploration of the family dynamic revealed in a domestic incident with subtle sensitivity, building to an affecting final moment.  Its disciplined approach to a challenging topic paid dividends.

Highly Commended: ‘The Geese Knew Exactly What to Do’ – by Tony Davies

A confident and skilful approach allows for an apparently unadventurous pastoral setting to develop into an unexpectedly Grand Guignol conclusion.  Narrative conventions are handled with winning panache, making this an experience for a reader to relish.

Commended: (removed at request of author)

Lively and engaging, this story combines contemporary social commentary with a developing emotional depth.  Its conclusion is gratifying without being facile.  An accomplished story.

Dinah Birch

January 2023

Southport Writers' Circle