The Short Story Competition 2015 had as itâ€™s theme, â€˜Freedomâ€™. Members were asked to enter a short story of 2,000 words or less for the chance to win two nights B&B for two people at Gladstoneâ€™s Library in Flintshire, Wales. Sittingbourne member, Jill Sidders, won the competition with her story Freedom lost and Freedom gained.
You can read her story along with the runner up and commended awarded stories below.
The competition judges were Peter Morrison and Dr Neil Wilson. Mr Morrison is he author of A Lonely Road and other stories, a retired university lecturer, Chair of Airedale Writers Circle and a regular competition judge. Dr Neil Wilson is the author of Proper Poorly, editor of The Writer and writer of many medical anecdotes, short stories and news articles. He is also a retired GP and an active member of Airedale Writers Circle.
The judges were very positive about the entries and had this to say:
Warmest congratulations to all of you who entered. Our reaction on reading your stories was â€˜what an interesting collection of writers you are out there!â€™ If this were Paradise (and preferably not â€˜Lostâ€™) everyone would have had a prize of some sort. Unfortunately this is Planet Earth â€“ and something of a comedown. Our apologies for that; you'll appreciate we had no say in the matter.
The standard of entrants' writing was excellent â€“ at times of a much higher quality than that of many published writers we've come across. There are some very gifted souls amongst you.
Your choice of subject matter intrigued and impressed us both. Many of you wrote of relationships â€“ some happy, others flawed. Several of you wrote of relationships on the brink of breaking up. Others told stories with an historical setting. Some of you looked to nature, whilst others based their stories on an individual's recollection of her past. Whichever way, you proved the truth of the old saying: an original writer always creates an original world.
We approached the task of marking with trepidation, being all too aware that literary judges have made some exotic (or, if you prefer, plain daft) decisions in their time. The underlying maxim as to the short story has to be neither a word too many nor a word too few. Or, to put it another way, say what's got to be said â€“ and then that's it. We were looking for stories with style and impact â€“ stories which left an impression long after we'd read them. As we found to our cost, our entrants were on the same wavelength from the start.
A few pointers for the future:
an arresting opening catches the reader's attention from the outset;
always consider the art of the rounded paragraph;
be wary of foreign words - they may not always be familiar to the reader;
an ending requires impact of some sort.
May we suggest that you take time to look at the website Writers Online if you're not already aware of it. Among other things, it has a directory of local writers' groups which may be of interest. There are a goodly number of short story competitions on offer during the year â€“ it's largely a matter of looking. Whichever way you set about it, please press on: polish your craft. Best wishes to you all â€“ and best of luck.
Peter Morrison and Neil Wilson