NZWC 2010 Annual Short Story Competition

Writer_at_workNZ Writers' College runs this competition to acknowledge excellence in creative writing in the Short Story genre. The contest is open to any unpublished writer residing in New Zealand.


Well done to all the writers who entered the 2010 competition.



 

The Winners 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 NZ Writers’ College Short Story Competition.
 

  1. The overall winner is “Tell Me About the Love of Your Life” by Feby Idrus
  2. The runner-up place is awarded to John Drennan for his story “Expunge”
  3. In third place is Tony Wi’s story “The Bridge”


Fourth and fifth placed stories shared the same score. Christine Tyler’s “Tiger” and Collin Minnaar’s “My Great Big Coat” were placed here. Well done.
 

Honourable Mention

These writers have received Honourable Mention. These stories stood out for being enjoyable to read and well written.

Congratulations to...

Helen Yuretich for “The Right Choice”

Stacey Lepper for “Clotheslines”

John Muir for “An Artist’s Freedom”

Clinton Bell for “Purgatory”

Trish Nicholson for “The Nest”

Derin Attwood for “Towards Freedom”

Terrence Jack for “A Conversation with Bronson”

Paul Metcalf for “Pick Me”

 

The judges’ ratings and comments for the top 5 stories

As you will see, the ratings of the stories fell very close to each other with just half a point separating the overall winner from the runner-up. Please visit the site again in the next day to read the winning entries.

A huge thank you to our judges: Charlotte Randall, Alex Smith, Karen Jeynes, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Ginny Swart.
 

First Place
 
 

  Story:  Tell Me About the Love of Your Life  NZ Writers' College Short Story Competition winner

  

 
Readability: Does it hold your attention?
20/25
 
Originality
18.5/25
 
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?)
18.5/25
 
Characterization
16.5/25
 
Imagery and use of language
17/25
 
Overall gut response to story
19/25
 
TOTAL                                                                 109.5/150
 
Judges’ comments
 
  • I enjoyed this story and felt satisfied when I had finished it. It’s kind of sad. I liked it the best. CR
  • I loved the contrast between the gruff first-person voice and the dreamier third-person memory section, and there is some lovely imagery - “dream and memory ... intermixed, like milk in coffee”, for example. However, I think the story would be more effective if it was not spelt out so explicitly, and so soon, that George was “really the love of his life” (this is also signalled early on by the mention of “funny business”.) I think the story would be much more effective if this is something the reader gradually becomes aware of on their own, only really understanding towards the end. AS
  • The story made me smile, it had a real warmth. Unfortunately I found it too short, and the plot didn’t have much space to develop. KJ
  • A captivating fictional memoir, simply told with some rich imagery; the reader is given glimpses into another country and another time. The story is at its best when the language is at its simplest - at times the language becomes a little too florid. In the second part of the story, the first metaphor has poetic impact, however too many metaphors later, the impact is lost. Although, the story is not confusing, the two-part structure with switch from first person interview/account to 3rd person narrative is problematic (after all, who now is the narrator who sees into this old man’s dream) and as a result the end loses impact. The form the story takes, hampers the overall effect, nevertheless it is an interesting, often transporting read. HRI
  • Clever the way the love of his life was finally revealed to himself as being George, just when he thought he was going to talk about his wife. A sad ending because it took him so long to realise the truth. GS
 
 
Second Place
 

  Story: Expunge  NZ Writers' College Short Story Competition runner-up

    
 
Readability: Does it hold your attention?
18.5/25
 
Originality
19/25
 
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?)
15/25
 
Characterization
19.5/25
 
Imagery and use of language
19.5/25
 
Overall gut response to story
17.5/25
 
TOTAL                                                                109/150
 
Judges’ comments
  • Very entertaining. I liked the change to Monty waking in the darkness.
  • This is vividly written, with a conversational narrative voice that holds the attention. I was distracted, though, by the shifts in perspective; the central story seems to be Monty’s wartime trauma, but we get to part only after a rather rambling prologue which splits its focus between several other less significant characters. A good short story needs to be more tightly structured. 
  • This seems like two stories in one. The writer has a flair for vivid imagery, but the disjuncture in the middle of the story is quite jarring.
  • Wonderful characters make this a thoroughly enjoyable read even though the structure, the narrative order is problematic. The story has huge potential, however the abrupt transition from George’s perspective to Monty’s final moments and a dream scene needs more careful thought. The story is brimming with potential, the set-up (house and family destroyed by storm) is great, the characters are an absolute delight, so vividly put across - reworked slightly, this could be an excellent story.
  • My favourite. This one has everything a good story needs. It was told in such a genuine, laconic voice, with great believable characters, a good pace and an unexpected ending.
 
 
Third Place
 

Story: The Bridge

 
Readability: Does it hold your attention?
18/25
 
Originality
17/25
 
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?)
17/25
 
Characterization
17.5/25
 
Imagery and use of language
20/25
 
Overall gut response to story
17/25
 
TOTAL                                                                106.5/150
 
Judges’ comments
 
  • Some very good writing in parts. Less satisfying than some of the other, longer stories.
  • This is technically very well written, but I am a little mystified about its meaning. Who are the spirits and what is their role in the protagonist’s relationships? What is he meaning of the jump into the water? This feels like a potent, intriguing, but ultimately frustratingly incomplete piece – perhaps a part of a longer work.
  • This story is gripping, honest, and real, and the story cuts through the writing. It’s unique, and well structured, and shows great technique and restraint.
  • A deft and touching insight into a complex mind and an imperfect, but lovely relationship. Here the main focus is very narrow: a single manageable incident, the structure is clear and the narrative flows easily. The story, or rather the back-story, evolves evenly and progressively between an almost poetic refrain - the recurring return to the act of falling, and to the approaching water, and to those spirits. The first couple of lines of the fourth paragraph are a little awkward and could be simplified. Some very memorable images here, like that toast slathered with marmalade – it’s so full of the joy of life, it’s a very hopeful image, which is most unusual for toast. Without being sentimental, the ending attains a remarkably beautiful fragility.  It is a very difficult choice between these stories, however, in terms of gut response to this story, while I am enchanted by the spirits who turn away for the kiss, as a story, this one feels to this reader to be somewhat slight in scope, more like a fragment than a story.  It is an exquisite fragment though and well-structured. Therefore, of the five stories, this is my choice for winner.
  • This is a good writer and with a subject that appealed to me more, I’d probably have given the story higher marks. Keep writing!
 
 
Fourth/ Fifth Place
 

  Story: My Great Big Coat

  

 
Readability: Does it hold your attention?
 
15/25
 
Originality
15.5/25
 
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?)
16/25
 
Characterization
18/25
 
Imagery and use of language
17/25
 
Overall gut response to story
12/25
 
TOTAL                                                                 93.5/150
 
Judges’ comments
 
  • Lots of good observation and some great language. Was a little put off by the lyrics in italics. I feel the story would have been better without them (and any missing information conveyed in the ordinary part of the text).
  • This story creates a strong atmosphere of tension, disillusionment and unease. The reader is immediately intrigued by the figure of the watcher in the coat, and wants to know what will unfold. The mall environment is also vividly and perceptively described. But the plot never really develops, and ultimately it feels slow and uneventful. We expect the building psychological tension to result in an explosion or a resolution, but this never happens.
  • There’s clearly a talented writer here, and an interesting slice of life observation, but I find the overall effect self indulgent.
  • The author is to be congratulated for creating a strangely compulsive reading experience – it’s very voyeuristic. Initially the choice of words seems almost awkward, too formal, but when the nature of the character becomes more apparent those odd, out-of-place, at times stilted phrases seem perfect. Great characterisation, some lovely, often misanthropic observations, but somehow the story lacks a certain momentum. There is an excellent build-up, but story in the purest sense is missing.
  • Although this was well written, I couldn’t help feeling a bit dissatisfied and cheated with the ending. I really wanted something to happen to justify all his thoughts.
 
Fourth/Fifth Place
 

Story: Tiger

 
Readability: Does it hold your attention?
17/25
 
Originality
15/25
 
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?)
17.5/25
 
Characterization
15/25
 
Imagery and use of language
13.5/25
 
Overall gut response to story
15.5/25
 
TOTAL                                                                93.5/150
 
Judges’ comments
  • Nice story. Maybe a little obvious in the working out of its theme?
  • A satisfying story, well told, with a pleasing resolution. I have no specific criticism, except that the story feels a little morally simplistic, lacking complexity and subtlety that would make it a truly adult story. It reads like a story for young adults, perhaps, with its strong moral lesson about rising above adversity.
  • The story is sweet, but fairly predictable and unremarkable.
  • Tiger is a very appealing character with a great name. This is a generous and ambitious story. It flows well even though it spans a large time period within a few pages. Perhaps because of all the ground covered, it feels a little hurried, and veers towards brittle/shallow in parts. Perhaps it needs more length to develop to its full potential, so that beer-baby Tiger’s life is more fully portrayed and the respite offered by golf is more real. The ending is abrupt, but potentially good, since it’s pleasantly unexpected and grounding. 


Our Top 20 Finalists


Congratulations to the following writers who were long-listed for our Top 20 selection. Their names appear below in no particular order.

“Clotheslines” - by Stacey Lepper

“Tiger” – by Christine Tyler

“The Right Choice” – by Helen Yuretich

“The Interview” – by Rheon Slade

“An Artist’s Freedom” – by John Muir

“Tell me about the Love of your Life” – by Feby Idrus

“The Bridge” - by Toni Wi

“My Great Big Coat” – by Collin Minnaar

“Purgatory” – by Clinton Bell

“Expunge” – by John Drennan

“The Nest” – by Trish Nicholson

“Pick Me” – by Paul Metcalf

“A Conversation with Bronson” – by Mark Saunders

“A Splendid Evening Down by the Seaside” – by Daniel Marsom

“Dancing in Mermaid’s Tears” - by Courtney Addison

“Her Last Days” – by Samantha Tuapawa

“Towards Freedom” – by Derin Attwood

“Two Wahines” – by Pete Lafitte

“Anywhere” – by Liam S Coleman

“Future History” – by Andrew Porteous


PRIZES:

  • First prize: $1000.00
  • Second Prize: $500.00
  • Top two entries will be published on our college site and the top five winners will receive individual editorial guidance on their submitted works.


THE JUDGES:

The top five entries will be assessed by a panel of award-winning international writers who tutor at NZ Writers' College: www.nzwriterscollege.co.nz.

CharlotteRandall_letterbox.jpg Charlotte Randall is the author of five published novels. Her first novel, Dead Sea Fruit (1995), won the Reed Fiction Award for unpublished manuscripts and Best First Book, Southeast Asia/South Pacific, in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Her second novel, The Curative (2000), was runner up in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and afterwards was made into a successful play and serialised for national radio. Her novels What Happens Then Mr Bones? (2004) and the Crocus Hour (2008) were also finalists in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

She has been awarded two prestigious writers' residencies, including the writer in residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University and The Ursula Bethell/Creative NZ Residency at Canterbury University.
Charlotte also writes short stories. She has been published in the literary journal Landfall and, out of four entries, has twice made the shortlist of stories receiving special comment from the judges in the Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award. Her sixth novel will be published in 2011.

Henrietta-lb.jpg Henrietta Rose-Innes has written two novels, Shark's Egg (Kwela, 2000) and The Rock Alphabet (Kwela, 2004), and has compiled a book of South African writing, Nice Times! A Book of South African Pleasures and Delights (Double Storey, 2006). A number of her short stories and essays have appeared in local and international publications.
Most recently, Henrietta's story "Poison" won the 2007 Southern African PEN / HSBC Writing Award. She won the 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Ginny_Swart_Short_Story_Tutor_lb.jpg Ginny Swart has sold over 400 short stories to women's magazines all over the world. On any day of every month she has at least 15 stories out there on editors' desks. Her more serious work has appeared in literary publications in America, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and on the Web. She is also the author of three romance novels (Ulverscroft Press UK) a book of short stories (Lulu.com) and a book for teenagers: Nosipho and the King of Bones (MacMillan Boleswa SA).

In 2003 Ginny won the esteemed UK The Real Writers' Prize from over 4000 entrants.

Karen_Jeynes_letterbox.jpg Karen Jeynes studied English and Drama at UCT. Her plays include "Laying Blame", "sky too big", "Backwards in High Heels" (co-authored with the cast), "Don't Mention Sex", "Kiss Kiss" and the multi award-winning "Everybody Else (is Fucking Perfect)". She has also directed "The Best Man", "Pillow Talk" and "Txt Me". Her adaptation of Thomas Rapakgadi's "The Purse is Mine" aired on Bush Radio last year, and she is busy writing a radio drama series for Safm with Nkuli Sibeko, tentatively entitled "Office Hours".

Her teenage novel, Jacques Attack (co-authored with Nkuli Sibeko) was published in 2004, and her new book, Flipside, co-authored with Eeshaam September, is due for release this year.

Alex_Smith_letterbox.jpg Alex Smith is the author of two novels, Algeria's Way and Drinking from the Dragon's Well, both published by Random House Umuzi. Drinking from the Dragon's Well was long-listed for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. Four Drunk Beauties, her third novel was published this year by Umuzi.

Alex has had many short stories published in anthologies and journals. Her short story 'Buffalo Panting at the Moon' was short-listed for the 2007 SA PEN Literary Awards. Most recently her writing appeared in Touch, along with other writers, including Henrietta Rose-Innes, Damon Galgut, Andre Brink, and Nadine Gordimer. Alex was shortlisted for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. She came second in the 2009 Sanlam Youth Literature Prize and has just been nominated for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing.


CRITIQUES:

We do not have the time to supply a critique for each submission. If you wish to receive a professional one- to two-page report of your work, please state your requirement on your title page. We charge $45.00 per critique.


COMPETITION RULES:

  • The competition is open to anyone in New Zealand over the age of 16.
  • The competition closes on 30 September 2010, and winners will be announced and displayed on our web site by 31 October 2010.
  • Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • Entrant must own full copyright of the piece.
  • Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be displayed on our website.
  • The judges' decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within 72 hours, please contact us -your mail may have got lost in transit.
  • NZ Writers' College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline, or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.
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