I had 61 entries (a record!) and 20 of those were poems, which was really good to see.
There were lots of well-written and perfectly ‘good’ entries. The main reasons that those didn’t get to the long list stage was that they were either too rushed (even though I gave you 3 weeks to get your entries in, some were submitted within hours of the competition appearing!), or in the case of one story that I wanted to longlist, it hadn’t used one of the words (‘fever’, if you want to check your entry!!) or they lacked originality.
The obvious link between ‘seagull’ and ‘t-shirt’ (two of the words you had to use), was to have a seagull ‘pooping’ on someone’s T-shirt. And boy, did I get a lot of those! Probably a third of the entries used that idea. So, always remember: your first thought is probably going to be someone else’s too and try to come up with something else.
Actually, Philippa, who was ‘longlisted’ with her story ‘Mombasa Market’ also used that idea but her story still stood out because it was set overseas (probably the only entry with an ‘exotic’ location) and she had some great characters.
The problem with sending in an idea that lots of other people have used, is that, however good your piece is, it’s very difficult to make it memorable for the judge – and that’s what you need to do with a competition entry: hit the judge between the eyes with your idea and/or your writing, so that he/she can’t forget it.
Anyway, back to the shortlist.
I asked my class in Moreton to judge the shortlist last Thursday (anonymously) and they took their task very seriously. Each piece was read in silence, then read aloud and then we discussed their relative merits.
Were the 5 words used in a natural way? Were there any cliches in the piece?
We loved the humour and originality of ‘Got It Wrong Again’ and both ‘Rose’s Tragedy’ and ‘The Good Daughter’ had their fans but it came down to a choice between the two poems and it was VERY close, but in the end, ‘Sea Pottery’ was chosen as the winner.
Why? Because it’s so beautifully written that you don’t even notice the 5 words that had to appear. They are an intrinsic part of the poem. It is also, I think, one of those poems that, the more you read it, the more it reveals. So, well done Rachel McNeish!
Which means that our runner-up is ‘High Flyer’. Another – very different –but beautifully-written poem, which sounds particularly wonderful when read aloud, as all the rhymes work so well (and again, the 5 words don’t seem ‘forced’). Well done, Richard Barker!
I’ll be contacting the winners about their prizes today and I will be running another competition (she says, rashly) when I reach 500 followers, so watch this space over the next few months…!
But if you can’t wait that long, Words For The Wounded have a writing competition (‘400 words of fiction, or a real life tale, or a poem on the theme of ‘The Journey’. Entry fee £4.50), which ends on 11th March (2 days’ time but you can enter on-line!).
It’s all in a good cause too. See here for more details.