Short Story Competition April 2011, Judge’s Report

By Jude Dibia

jude dibiaThe beauty of reading short stories from different writers is, for me that is, the certainty of diverse themes, writing styles, tempo, pulse and all those things that make one stop at the end of each story with that faraway look in one’s eye, marvelling at the brilliance of the writers; applauding how each writer has managed, within a very limited space, to create something memorable and engaging.

The themes explored by the writers in this competition were as far ranging as euthanasia to domestic violence, and imaginary borders to friendship and much more complex themes. And in the end, it was quite hard narrowing this down to six winners only.

In choosing the winners of the competition, I was not so much carried away by the themes explored by the writers, but instead by how well the stories were told and if they left a lasting impression on me.

Having said that, quite a number of entries suffered from poor editing, bad presentation and read as if the writers were in a rush. This was the case with some of the very good stories I read, which unfortunately, may not have made the cut. It is my hope that future participants in this competition will spend more time with their work and think about the importance of good presentation.

And now to the winning entries:

First prize: Mrs. Mackenzie’s Secret by EILEEN HOON

This is a poignant and moving story. I particularly loved the way the writer slowly unveiled the secret. There were some really lovely lines here, and it is one of those stories that stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

Second prize: Colouring Matthew by BRUCE HARRIS

I was moved by this story about growing old and how we and others perceive ourselves as we age. It was a story about friendship as well, told in a simple style yet its tenderness truly envelopes you. This is a compelling story by an interesting writer.

Third prize: Are We There Yet by ANDREW BLACKMAN

It is not every day you come across stories that tackle the unusual theme of euthanasia and suicide and more so, one that does it with such tenderness in tone and delivery. The writing felt like balm—soothing and calming. Like many exceptional stories, there was much hidden beneath the surface.

Highly commended stories:

The three stories that fall into this category were equally good. If by INA CLAIRE GABLER is a well-written story and I enjoyed the innovative style used by the writer to express the narrator’s litany of regrets. The Mackwater Seam by BRINDLEY HALLAM DENNIS is a clever story of a community divided, literally, due to no fault of their own and shows the danger of drawing borders between people of a shared culture and how discontent is sown. Having a Cigarette by ANNE WILSON is an evocative story of estrangement and a different kind of love between child and mother.

These are my choices; however, I must commend all the writers who participated in this competition. I should add that if given the chance, I would have extended the list to include more stories which I found equally deserving.

I hope readers will enjoy these six stories as much as I enjoyed reading them! And finally, congratulations to all the winners.

Jude Dibia


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