All winning stories available to read HERE
CRITIQUE by Chief Judge: Dennis Conlon
Thank you for asking me to judge your competition again. The standard was very high two years ago and I enjoyed the task so much I was happy to undertake it again. This year, the standard was even higher. It’s pleasing to see there are so many good writers around. Naturally, even with a strict marking scheme, such as you use, the result is always going to be subjective. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the choice of winner. Apologies to all those who didn’t win especially to those who thought they should. There were many good pieces that didn’t make it for a variety of reasons. As with any competition of this nature, there was a great degree of differing styles and abilities. Some appealed, some didn’t. Some pieces were very well written but then, as might be expected, spoiled by the usual mistakes, POV being the most regular. It’s difficult to empathise with a protagonist if the writer suddenly jumps into another character’s head. There was a quantity of stories where the writer was unable to RUE, ‘resist the urge to explain’ and the usual smattering of over exposition. Having said all that, there was also a good deal of promise.
WINNING ENTRY – “GREEN VELVET PORCELAIN” by Mary Prior
A very poignant tale that reminded me of John Boyn’s “Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”. It had an interesting structure, using the story of three Wartime children to follow the journey of a doll. It deceptively draws you in to think you’re reading a simple children’s story before subtly revealing the horror of the Death Camp. The motif of the doll’s description keeps us in the story, bringing together the three children and creates a character of the doll itself.
SECOND PLACE – “INVISIBLE” by Helen Matthews
Well-written story, perfectly formatted, always a good pointer to any publisher’s reader. Astute use of character to set up the plot, totally believable, best highlighted by the introduction of the Polish security guard, the key that secures the clever denouement. At no point before the reveal is it predictable. The writing is of good quality, creating a well-structured page-turner.
THIRD PLACE – “NOT WITH A BANG” by Eileen Gilmour
Very cleverly told with a unique style that demands the reader’s attention. The pace is very well controlled and the dialogue and language really suits the piece. Easy to empathise with the protagonist character, even when she appears to get her comeuppance.
HIGHLY COMMENDED – “VASHTI” by Steve Brodie
A really well written page turner, would’ve definitely been placed had the female character’s motivation been better disguised.
HIGHLY COMMENDED – “FRIDAY NIGHT LIFE” by Laura Dippie
Although it wasn’t placed due to the story not being strong enough, I couldn’t let this piece pass without mentioning the writing, which was extraordinary.
SHORT LISTED – “SOUP OF THE DAY” by A.J.H. Martin
Unfortunately, this competition doesn’t include a ‘Humour’ section or this would’ve surely been the top contender.
SHORT LISTED – “THE JOURNEY HOME” by David Short
Another really well told page turner with very satisfactory ending.
SHORT LISTED – “AMAZON ADVENTURE” by Tony Oswick
SHORT LISTED – “THE WATCHER” by Frank Catchpole
SHORT LISTED – “THE FAMILY JEWELS” by Hannah Spencer
SHORT LISTED – “STAR GAZING WITH THE GREEN MAN” by Lynne Voyce
Nice fairy tale
SHORT LISTED – “AND THEN THERE WERE NONE” by Valerie Robinson
Quirky well delivered story
SHORT LISTED – “MAN FROM THE MINISTRY” by Joan Denise Bayes
Strong characterisation, would’ve made good opening to a novel