Judge’s Report – SLQ Short Story Competition January 2011

by AMANDA SINGTON-WILLIAMS

Amanda Sington I was pleasantly surprised to see the huge number of stories that were entered for the competition and even more so by the high quality and variety. The locations were as widely spread as the characters that each came alive in their own particular way. A good short story is difficult to achieve and it is satisfying to read so many. Of course this made my task of selecting the winners very difficult.

First prize goes to ‘Edgar Doily at the Point’. The narrative takes the form of a classical short story and is about a single moment in a character’s life and depicts all the emotions which go with that slice of life. When the story came to the end it stayed with me like the afterglow of a sunset. But it is the magical use of language which set it off with the deft use of similes within the descriptions that are so brilliant.

In second place comes ‘Between Men.’ This too is about one event in the main character’s life. The central character is an unusual choice, the story line original, and the ending poignant. The pace of the narrative matches the character’s mood, and I thought the setting was extremely well-drawn and the ending a surprise, although it fitted perfectly into the story as a whole.

‘Run Boy Run’ takes third place. I liked the echo of a myth that formed the backbone to the story. From the start of the story the reader has a good idea what will happen in the end, but it is the slow unravelling of the story that creates tension. The descriptions create wonderful pictures in the mind and the main character comes alive.

The three commended stories were extremely good too. ‘The Remains of the Day’ depicts one thread of experience in a character’s life rather than one event. The repetitive scene setting works like poetry. We recognize each section and wait avidly for the change which occurs at the end. The subject matter is distressing but probably not uncommon and the resolution at the end was a good way to conclude it.

Also, I selected ‘Last Year’ as a commended story. This is a very short story that manages to pack into the narrative, a variety of emotions from a contented bliss to sorrow. It is this that I thought was brilliantly executed. The scene setting took me to the place and mirrors the events of the story and the central character was well drawn.

Last but not least, ‘No Thing Called Goodbye’ was selected as the third commended story. It is, like some of some of the others that have been selected, about a particular moment in a character’s life. It is the mystery behind the language and the feeling that the story belongs to long lost times that won me over. And the ending left me wondering what happened to the two central characters.

These form my six selections. As I said at the start, this has not been easy, and I hope the authors of the other entries are not too disappointed. Rejection is part of the writing process and persistence always pays off. But though each and every one of the stories took me to a different place, unfortunately, I could only select six. So congratulations to the three winners and the authors of the three commended stories.

Amanda Sington-Williams

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