The Winners


We are delighted to announce our winners for the 2019 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.
The winning stories were beautifully written, authentic,
and a thoughtful interpretation of this year's theme: 'No One is Better Than You'.

Congratulations on an outstanding effort.



FIRST PLACE: ‘Title' - by Author

RUNNER-UP: ‘Title’ - by Author

THIRD PLACE: 'Title' - by Author


In fourth place is Author’s ‘Title’.
‘Title’, written by Author, placed fifth.

Read the judges' comments and the top three stories below the results lists.



Highest Honours

These stories narrowly missed making the top five. The characters are authentic, plotlines are credible and unpredictable, and the style and grammar are generally excellent.

‘The Weight of Damiana’ – by Chelsea van Lieshout
‘An Unfinished Symphony’ – by Anthony Louis von Zeil
‘What's a Doctor Gonna Give Me that My Bones Don't Know How to Do’ – by Janine Milne
‘Working You Out’ – by Delight Kangara
‘The Conscious Act of Arranging’ – by Aimee Dyamond
‘The Secret Miracle Cure’ – by Morne Visser
‘A Sixpence in her Shoe’ – by Sonja Marx
‘The Scripture’ – by Bongumusa Mnisi
‘We All Have Our Struggles’ – by Vuyo Kwakweni
‘Loving You Came at a Price’ – by Monique Brink
‘Project Neighbour’ – by Marilize Loxton
‘The Bus of Good and Evil’ – by Mary-Ann Thomson
‘All of God's Colours’ – by Joy Adewumi
‘Wacky Wednesday’ – by Johan van der Merwe
‘Begin the World from Zero’ – by Sisonke Papu










Good storytelling in enjoyable stories. Some good imagery and description in places, and mostly the writing appears to be effortless rather than contrived.

‘One of Us Is Bleeding’ – by Melissa Gow
‘Would You Like Me Better If...?’ – by Claire De Wet
‘The Country Club’ – by Inessa Rajah
'Quits’ – by Raymond Hattingh
'The Smallville Messiah’ – by Ross Ian Fleming
‘Eímai Arketá I Am Enough’ – by Hermien Owens-Collins
'Be What You Seem To Be’ – by Woody
'Her Blood’ – by Precious Abam
‘Vigilante’ – by S.C Gerritsen
‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ – by B Swart
‘All Hail, the Nonpareil’ – by Simon Winter
'Reality TV Isn't Real' – by Jody Sampson
'Shards of Guilt' – by Edmirie Fourie
'The Secret Admirer' – by Makgoba M.H
'The Smallville Messiah' – by Ross Ian Fleming
‘Hitchhiker’ – by Ellen Fritz
‘Hot Java’ – by Craig Rolando Meyer
‘Cease to Exist’ – by Dominic Adendorff
'Fires of Injustice' – by Rebecca Pillay
‘Named for the Stars, Made for War’ – by Taffy Lamba
‘So Hum (I Am That)’ – by Therveshree Canniappen
‘The Eternal Walk’ – by Relebogile Seokoma
‘Clinically Sane’ – by Willemien Jansen
‘Seven for Perfection’ – by Sibusisiwe Shangase






Honourable Mention

We enjoyed reading these stories.


'Trigger Warning' - by Rashalia Pather
‘Hallstead and DeVries’ - by Lezaan Visagie
‘To Serve’ - by Melaney Peters
‘Aminah Rose among the Thorns’ - by Prenisha Singh
‘A Crazy, Wonderful World’ - by Danelle Roets
'Damsel' - by S D Mashilo
‘A Mother Knows Best’ - by Trish Oglesby
‘Perfect Timing’ - by Jacinta Moetlo
‘Saving Grace’ - by Erika Taylor
‘Grandpere's Words’ – by Darrel Hofland
‘Vredehuis’ - by Krpasha Govindasamy
‘The Drunk, the Damned, and the Dead’ - by Kira N
‘But He's Mine’- by Petuela Africa
‘When Being Better is Bad’ - by Annelien Moller
'Homocide'- by Matthew B Thomo
‘Boxed and Labelled’ – by Savannah Brogneri
‘A Trial to Remember’ – by Nina Claudia Hessler
‘The Pale Mists of Winter’ - by Jacques Smith
‘Burning the Leeches’ - by Kemmy-Leigh Moodley
‘The Girl in the Attic’ - by Tasneem Moolla
‘Once upon a Hairstyle’ - by Kebarileng Molefe
‘Me versus the Chemical Imbalance in My Brain’ - by Nontsikelelo Gumede
‘Karma's Kiss’ - by Tarryn Bannister
‘Choice Economy’ - by Jean-Paul Willemse
‘The Funeral’ - by Serene Bayne
‘Always in the Wings’ – by LJ Livesey
‘The Dream Job’ – by Liezl van Rooyen

      More Stories We Loved

Great writing is about attention to detail, and making strong choices with words, characters, structure and grammar. Next year we'd like to see these authors move up the results ladder.

‘The Cold Sparkle’ – by Noluthemba Bhanti
‘Hope’ - by Claire Tucker
‘The Buzzkill’ – by Kabir Jugram
‘Dua Roh (Two Spirit)’ - by Shreshtha Ramsout
‘Tango with the Drunken’ – by Lookman Laneon
'A Strange Breed of a Person' – by Meagan du Plooy
‘The Gift of Loving’ – by Traci-Lee Philander
‘Remember’ – by Lebogang Maragelo
‘A King's Flame’ – by Shamsa Hosanee
‘Ayanda the Outcast’ – by Mtibza eM
‘I Am My Own’ – by Simangele Lekhuleni
‘For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls’ – by Nicole Meyer
‘On Days Like These’ – by Ciru Israel
‘July the 1st’ – by Mbalentle Mdange
‘The Transition’ – by E Letlhogonolo Thela
‘A Vicious Circle’ – by Nicole Engelbrecht
‘Sister’ – by Mashila Tlangelani
‘uSibahle - The Untold Story’ – by Samkelo Siyabonga Skosana
'Pietersburg - Here We Come’ – by Hosi Maluleke'
‘You're My Angel’ – by Judy De Bruin
‘Three Strikes of Luck, for One Lucky Sock’ - by Tshepo S. Molebatsi
'That One Hopeful Day' - by Masego Motlhabane
‘In the Eyes of the Beholder’ – by Thandile Malunga
'In Loving Memory' – by Germaine Keraan
‘The Day Death Fell from the Sky’ – by Denise Bell
'Each Other's Backs'- by Vision Gholele
‘Refraction’ – by Misha Krynauw


Keep up the great writing! We look forward to hearing from you again for our 2020 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.

The judges’ ratings and comments for the top three stories

A huge thank you to our judges this year: Sonny Whitelaw, Alexandra Smith, Andrew Salomon and Karen Jeynes.


First Place



by Moira Lomas

NZ Writers College Short Story Writing CompetitionWinner-2018
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 18/20
Originality 15/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 17/20
Characterization 20/20
Imagery and use of language 18/20
Overall gut response to story 17/20

TOTAL 105/120


Judges’ comments
  • Simple story, beautifully rendered characters, well written, and an unexpected ending that came with enough foreshadowing to make complete sense. Exactly what a short story should be. While the story itself is not entirely original (few are), the theme of 'hot air' is used in an unexpected context. I would like to see a little more care taken with punctuation, especially in dialogue. This does not influence my mark, but would make the heart of an editor/publisher glow, as it would show you not only know how to write a great story, but also write professionally. Sonny
  • The scenes of the beach, the fire, the shore and its creatures, including the crabs, are exceptionally vivid and memorable.  The story is authentic and without melodrama, but it is those specific, local details that make this story stand out. (Dialogue punctuation and general copy editing need attention.) Alex
  • This story is a small, self-contained gem wherein the dismal  weather and the bleakness of the narrator's family life resonate with each other. A very original interpretation of the competition theme. Andrew
  • An evocative piece, it implies as much as it tells, and leaves several questions. Above all it succeeds in communicating emotion - while you are reading this story, you become the boy, you see the crabs, you feel part of this world. Karen

Runner Up




by R. L. Jeffs

NZ Writers College Short Story Writing Competition Runner Up-2018
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 17/20
Originality 14/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 16/20
Characterization 18/20
Imagery and use of language 17/20
Overall gut response to story 15/20

TOTAL 97/120


Judges’ comments
  • Powerful, elegant, and well written. Ticks all the boxes but one: the subtle nuances are too subtle. Deeper elements of foreshadowing such as, 'Refusing to acknowledge, just now, the truth in that statement', are threads left untied at the end. In short, what drives the narrator's perspective is just a little too esoteric. A short story should end with a sense of understanding and completion. Even if 'completion' is a cliffhanger, there needs to be a clearer direction, not just about what might happen next, but why the narrator feels as he does.  This leaves me feeling uncertain about how I should interpret what I, the reader, am supposed to feel; how I should interpret the narrator's emotions. This in turn makes it hard for me to have satisfactory 'gut' response. It really is an elegant piece of writing and I would love to see it fleshed out just a wee bit more. Sonny
  • The sense of a school buzzing with gossip is utterly convincing, and so is the first person narrator's unsettling realisations about the Golden Boy, the subject of the gossip, who was once a good friend. Alex
  • This forthright story dealing with the intense emotions associated with a young adult grasping for identity and a sense of belonging is supported by well-written dialogue. Andrew
  • This is powerful writing, showing some things, hiding others, keeping you guessing. It feels very authentic, and real. It doesn't shy away from the darkness. Karen

Third Place




by Mary Francis


NZ Writers College Short Story Writing Competition Third Place-2018
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 16/20
Originality 15/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 16/20
Characterization 17/20
Imagery and use of language 15/20
Overall gut response to story 17/20

TOTAL 96/120


Judges’ comments
  • I love the way you have distilled our modern dystopian world view into a single 'everyman' perspective. The language is simple and straightforward, which is what you would expect from a teenager struggling to deal with a mother whose 'catastrophe' neuroses destroy her family. This allows the reader to empathise with the character on several levels. The simple imagery fits the character, the pace is good, and most important of all for me, the ending works. That's what always works for me, because no matter how compelling the story or the writing, no matter how realistic and accessible the character/s, the ending is what we, the reader, are left with, and thus what we take away from the story. This ending is compelling in its simple poignant irony: the 'end of the world' is a whimper rather than a bang. I particularly like the fact that you did not use the term 'hot air' directly in your story.  It's there. This is the art of showing, not telling. Well done. Sonny
  • This take on the 'hot air' theme is potentially one of the most fascinating as it draws on a climatic event that caused heat and humidity to create catastrophic pollen over Melbourne. It's such a wonderful idea and the author could perhaps make even more of this setup. Alex
  • How mental illness can wreak havoc with the bond between a parent and child, leading to isolation and grief are skilfully portrayed in this moving story. Andrew
  • A delicate, sensitive story, it captures characters and emotions beautifully and simply, and carries them through from beginning to end. It's told very sparingly, but that's part of its power. Karen


  • First Prize: $ 1 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: $ 500.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: $ 250.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


"Nothing but hot air."

Now closed for entries
25 October 2018
10 November 2018

  • First Prize: $ 1 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: $ 500.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: $ 250.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


"Nothing but hot air."

Now closed for entries
25 October 2018
10 November 2018


  • We aim to support beginner writers. We only accept stories from writers who have never been published, or who have been published fewer than four times in any genre. This includes fiction and non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). Journalists, copywriters or web writers must please not apply. People who made a living from writing at any point in their life (e.g. decades earlier) are also not eligible for entry. We make an exception for unpaid articles for community or work newsletters, or blogs, where the circulation is under 1000.
  • The competition is open to anyone living in New Zealand over the age of 16.
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Stories that appear to be entirely unrelated to the theme will not be considered. Writers must produce their own title.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 30 September 2018. The longlist will be published by 25 October, and the winners announced and displayed on our website on Friday 10 November.
  • 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.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • 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.
  • All submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer:
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within three working days, please contact us as your email 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.

  • Only e-mail submissions are acceptable, with stories attached as Word Documents. Mark your entry clearly with the subject line: NZWC Annual Short Story Competition.
  • Each story must have a unique title. Do not use the theme as your title.
  • Your email must state the name of your story, as well as your name. E.g. 'Once Upon a Time' - by John Smith
  • State your word count in your email.
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”, or on our webzine. Read these:

Guidelines to make your entry amazing! Read our archived winnning stories here



The top five entries will be assessed by our panel of award-winning writers.
Sonny Whitelaw has enjoyed a successful career as a writer for more than thirty years.  She won a Draco Award for her first novel, The Rhesus Factor and all eight of her novels including five based on the television series, Stargate, have been international bestsellers. Read more here.

Karen Jeynes   Karen Jeynes is the head writer for Both Worlds Productions, overseeing ZANews: Puppet Nation (winner of 22 SAFTAs, two WGSA awards for Best TV Comedy, and two time International Emmy Nominee for Best TV Comedy), as well as Point of Order (SAFTA winner for Best Game Show in 2017), Comedy Central News, and Parlement Parlement, and other projects in development.

Karen also freelances for online and print media, and lectures and consults in Digital Culture and playwrighting.

Read more about Karen here.
Alex Smith is the author of five novels, Algeria's Way, Drinking from the Dragon's Well,  Four Drunk Beauties and Devilskein & Dearlove all published by Random House (Umuzi) and Agency Blue published by Tafelberg. Devilskein & Dearlove is nominated for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal in the UK. Read more about Alex here.

Andrew Salomon’s Young Adult Novel The Chrysalis was published by Oxford University Press and his latest novel, the fantasy thriller Tokoloshe Song will be published by Random House Umuzi in 2014. Read more about Andrew here.

fb2 Join us on Twitter

Click to Pay with PayPal


Pay using Mastercard Pay using VISA  

About Us

NZ Writers College is a leading online writing school in New Zealand.

We offer specialised, online writing courses tutored by award-winning writers. Get the writing tools you need, expert insider advice and hours and hours of writing practice. Work one-to-one with a professional writer and realise your writing dreams.



NZ Writers College offers online writing classes all over New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. We have students from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Whangarei, Rotorua, Hastings, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Hawkes Bay, Palmerston North, as well as Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne, Australia.

Contact Us

Nichola Meyer or Koos Turenhout

Phone:      +64 9 550 4635

9-5 Monday to Friday

Writing Services

white line grad
Student Log-in