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Open Competition Results 2011

Here are the results of the 2011 open short story writing competition. You can read the winning entry by clicking on the title below.


  1. £250 – Assipattle by Barbara Smith, Thames Valley Writers Circle – Tilehurst near Reading.
  2. £100 – Pleasure Zone by Helen Kampfner, Spain.
  3. £50 – Losing Benjy by Simon Vandervelde, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Highly Commended

  • Shadow Tree by Silvia Sbaraini, Canterbury.
  • A Wind Like a Bugle by Janet Killeen, Forest Hill, London.
  • Last of the Sand Dragons by Dan Purdue, Bewdley, Worcestershire.
  • The Clown by Zinaca Nobis, Forest Hill, London.


  • Potato Waffles and Syrupy Socks by Simon Whaley, Church Stretton.
  • Beer in Brown Bottles and Cigarettes by Douglas Bruton, West Linton, Scotland.
  • Ripples by Anne Powell, Hull.
  • Out of the Mouths of Babes by Nicola Clemmit, Whitby, North Yorkshire.

Judging to short list by Linda Lewis by the successful short story writer and Writers Forum columnist. Finalists judged by the NAWG committee.

Linda Lewis' Judging Notes

When the National Association of Writers Groups talked about the possibility of running a short story competition to raise some much needed funds, I was very keen to get on board. I'd run my own competitions for the past two years and really enjoyed the process. I don't think I will ever tire of reading other people's short stories.

I offered to judge the competition to short list stage and was very pleased when the competition attracted almost two hundred and fifty entries. I read them in batches of ten at a time so that I remained fresh.

The standard was so good, I had to be very strict with myself when it came to deciding which entries would be put to one side as possible short list contenders. The high standard made reading the stories a real pleasure. I couldn't help feeling sad each time a well written, well structured, generally good story didn't make the short list because I had no way of letting the writer know how close they had come.

If you entered but didn't come anywhere, that DOES not mean your story wasn't good, in fact I could imagine several stories that didn't make the short list being published so don't give up with your story – try it somewhere else.

Judging is, by its very nature, highly subjective. A story that didn't appeal to me might stand out as brilliant to somebody else. It's all a matter of taste.

I'd been asked to aim for a short list of approximately ten to twelve stories. I ended up with eleven. Those were sent off to the NAWG committee for them to make the final decision. I was happy with the choices they made as all eleven stories were of a high standard. If it had been up to me, a different story might have taken first prize, but that's the way it should be. That's why it’s often useful to have the final decision made by a group of people.

Now for some general comments. I found that some entries were more anecdotal than fiction. It's hard to explain what I mean in only a few words, but I'll try. As a rule, stories need some kind of shape or structure. More often than not, that entails linking the ending, in some way at least, to the beginning. When we're telling a friend about something that actually happened, we can start anywhere we like but when writing a story, it's often best to start and end in a similar place or at least with the same character.

Also, it's vital to bear in mind that simply because something actually happened doesn't mean it will work as a piece of fiction. In life, things just happen and coincidences abound. In stories, events need to happen for a reason that the reader can follow.

Another problem that kept cropping up was a lack of focus. I like to know who the main character or characters are so that I know who I'm meant to empathise with or care about. Several stories began with one person, then changed to a different viewpoint, for no valid reason. This made them feel rather disjointed.

Having a theme that runs through a story is another way to give the piece shape.

Overall, the standard was high and you should feel proud, however well you did. I'd like to end by thanking all the people who helped to publicise the competition, and everyone who entered. You helped to make the first NAWG Open Short Story competition a great success.

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Posted by: Kevin Machin Date: January 6, 2012 2:18 pm
Categories: Open Competitions, Competition Results Tags: None
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