International Short Story Competition
Again this year I am delighted to report that the entries to Chapter One Promotions' International Short Story Competition are of an exceedingly high standard. Most of these were so well written that it has been a difficult task to decide on the awarding of the final places. In other words, all the entrants whose work was on the chosen short list are certainly praiseworthy and demonstrate a wealth of talent exhibited in writing skills and undoubted creativity.
Many of the authors have conceived unique themes from unusual angles and those that wrote about more frequently occurring situations, such as the death of a loved one, had done so with beautifully expressed language which evoked deep emotion.
How did I manage, then, to decide on a final list of winners from such a wide choice of talented stories? Last year, I listed in my report the main aims and achievements the writer has to demonstrate in order to have been chosen, and which must be considered (see footnote* below.) So you can see that the judging had firstly to carefully apply to each entry these criteria. Importantly - the effect of an intriguing opening, the originality of the theme, sustained interest and impetus, and provision of a possible if not probable solution, coupled with brilliance of writing style and portrayals of believable characters enabling the work to be fairly judged.
I also concentrated on those stories chosen finally for the amount of memorable impact on the reader, combined with considerable evidence of writing talent. This is, of course, a cocktail of writing abilities and ideas that is difficult to maintain and, as with the writing of novels and poetry, the author must practise and submit his or her work to others in order to grow and flourish. For writing skills to mature and reflect this, the vital strategy for the author is not only inspiration but effort, determination coupled with guidance from others. We do all blossom with time!
Help with descriptive writing and developing an individual style is available and, for this to be enhanced, writers should continue their own development. It is wise to select courses from meeting with and learning from the experts in their appropriate fields.
Many of the English historical authors (Agatha Christie and Sir Walter Scott, for example and Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, knew all too well how to craft their stories with fascinating characters and then sustain nail-biting interest from their readers.)
It is always beneficial to read as much literature created by famous writers as you can, since this sets one's mind in the right frame to evolve a unique style.
Was there anything lacking in this year's entries I ask myself? What I did not see enough of, and which many of us in the publishing world have always valued highly, is a sense of humour. This may well be an indication of a deeper malaise in our Society in the climate of today; it may be due possibly to current hard economic times, depression and the fear of a lack of opportunity impinging on all. Tiny flashes of humour in a tale do give a pause for relief from the tension of the drama. Perhaps our lives are currently too dramatic? With one or two notable exceptions, this year the stories commendably were already heavily overlaid with exciting dramatic events and some well-drawn, dark characters were also present, but many lacked the leavening of the insertion of tiny snatches of laughter-evoking innuendo or asides creating at least a smile from the reader. It is worth thinking about; it is said to be a successful comic (or to write comedy) is a sign of great creativity. Shakespeare instinctively knew this when he interspersed short episodes of touches of comedy in his plays (usually pairs of comical figures occur even in the heart of the greatest tragedies.) This gave his audiences a chance of a snatch of laughter between the breathless peaks of emotional tension.
It is encouraging to know that there are so many talented and creative writers already contributing to readers' happiness worldwide. We hope they may long continue to provide wonderful stories for us all to enjoy. Let their brilliance be an inspiration to you, who will, we hope, become our famous writers of the future!
Consultant Director at Cambridge Publishing
Advisory Help-Line service for authors
Cambridge Publishing Advisory
The winners of the International Short Story Competition 2013 are:
Joint First Place:
Hotel Dandi, Argentina by Julia Harlyn
Joint First Place:
The Night Walkers by Dorothy Dromgoole
A Walk in the Park by Nicola Gill
Joint Third Place:
It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Lady Sings by Henrietta Richer
Diana of the Moon by Tracey Iceton
Badly Drawn Star by Dave Pescod
My Enemy Dr Seuss by Evan Guilford-Blake
Married Life by Gillian Romano
Finding Edmund by Alison Long
Monsieur by Jayne Collins
Tourists, Beggars, Lovers and Thieves by Kathleen Curtin
Redemption by Ruth Rawcliffe
Twin by Tom Norton
Rue Pigalle by K Lockwood Jefford
Sovereign by Jane Fraser
The Last Breath by Karen Collins
Lovebirds by Chris Connolly
An Appropriate Act of Love by Lynda Tavakoli
Resurrection Fern by Paul Weidknecht
Withered From The Frost by Chris Connolly
Mammy's Boy by Helen Rose
Defiance by Alison Love
Ants on my Arm by Vinaya Swapnil Bhagat
Long listed entries:
Old John by James Waller
Imbroglio by Chris Connolly
Cross Currents by Christine Steenfeldt
One in a Thousand by Beda Higgins
A Passing Front by Jane Fraser
What Is There To Say? by L F Roth
Leaving The Green by Carole Page
Escape by Audrey Lee
A Game and Amusement of Mankind by James Waller
The Story Boy by Sheila Powell
Mary B by Rebecca Camu
The Magic of the Mushroom by Richard Hanks
Thunder by Diana Sorrill
Messenger by Norman Waller
Postscript by Neal Mason
Second-hand by Angela Drinnan
Toadflax by Christine Harrison
Nobby Clarke's Blessing by Josephine Howard
Driving Through the Mirror by Merryn Williams
Animal Rights by Linda Telford
No Greater Love by David Butler
- Imaginative and impelling writing style;
- Unique content of story;
- The impetus generated to ensure continued reading of the content;
- Ability for a satisfactory ending, or for reader to attain a feeling of completeness from the conclusion of the short story;
- Creativity of each concept;
- Pace of events occurring;
- Excitingly different characters, incidents, backdrop/settings;
- Not a standard or hackneyed concept taken from frequently used themes;
- Stimulating to some of our senses;
- Generating sympathy for a character or even the opposite therefore stirring emotions;
- Trigger memories/associations within the reader to make the story more believable and memorable.
Submissions will be accepted for the International Short Story Competition 2014 from Sunday 1 September 2013.
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