Results of the Mini Saga Competition!

As promised, while I was at the Writers’ Holiday in Caerleon last week, my friend Chris and I judged the entries for the Mini Saga competition.

Here’s a little ‘judges’ report’ just before I announce the winner and runner-up…

Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to write and send in their story. Each of them was read carefully. Some of the stories had some very good ideas that just weren’t sufficiently developed and a couple just missed out on the shortlist because they gave away too much in the title or revealed too much before the end of the story. (If you’re writing a twist, make sure we can’t guess the ‘punchline’).

Quite a few entries focussed on crime and domestic violence and interestingly, during one of Sue Moorcroft’s workshops earlier this week, she revealed that she gets dozens of entries around those themes for the Writers Forum monthly short story competition (which she judges). She’s heartily sick of them! If your story is one of many with the same theme, it’s less likely to strike a chord with a judge, as it will seem unoriginal, so, whatever kind of competition you’re entering, don’t go with your first idea: try to think of something that’s unlikely to be chosen by someone else. Being original (without being totally weird!) is, I think, part of the secret of competition success.

Some entries tried to be terribly clever – and just left us feeling confused – and some were basically a joke, disguised as a ‘story’. There were also a few spelling mistakes (ouch!) and rather too many exclamation marks in some cases! Journalists don’t call them ‘howlers’ for nothing. Try to use exclamation marks as you would a chilli in your cooking – sparingly! (I know I have littered this post with them but I’m more restrained when I write fiction, honest!)

I’d also add that if you’ve only got 100 words to play with, make sure you use them all and give your entry a title if you’ve got that option. You’ll notice that our runner-up didn’t do either but I think his entry would have been improved if he had (and who knows, he might have moved up to first place!)

So, to the winners.

The winner is ‘Catch Me’ by Keith Havers from Nottinghamshire (who has to thank Patsy Collins for the link to the competition from her blog):

Catch Me
“Catch me if I fall, mummy. You will catch me won’t you?”
Susan flicked the remote control and froze the image as a flaxen-haired cheeky face beamed out from the TV screen.
“That was me on my first two-wheeler. Do you remember, mum? I was terrified of falling off.”
A lop-sided face stared mutely back at her.
“Come on, then,” she smiled. “Let’s get you ready for bed.”
Two rheumy eyes looked into Susan’s and they conveyed more fear and frustration than any words could.
“It’s o.k. mum,” she whispered. “I won’t let you fall.”

We liked this because of its originality, its poignancy and a feeling that these were ‘real’ people with a life before and after the scene portrayed. Well Done, Keith, your 2012 Writers & Artists Yearbook will be with you soon.

The runner-up was Ivor Seabrook from Leicestershire for his unusual and rather charming mini saga, which didn’t have a title but which nevertheless made us smile:

‘Lovely dancer.’

‘Nice food.’

‘Great wedding.’

‘On that hill beside the strange tree.’

‘Nice of Percy to sell you this lovely ring.’

‘And I’ve still got a fiver. Only cost a shilling.’

‘I remember your proposal.’

‘On that green boat?’

‘Accompanied by your lovely guitar playing.’

‘And your tasty honey.’

‘Doesn’t seem like that was 366 days ago.’

‘Show miaow much you love me.’

‘O, you are a hoot.’

Ivor,(I found this out when I emailed him to tell him the good news), has just finished his first novel and is editing it before he takes ‘the big step’ of letting people read it. Congratulations, Ivor. You’ve actually finished a novel (and you’re not just a ‘wannabe’, like me!), so you can be very proud – and good luck with it.

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10 Responses to Results of the Mini Saga Competition!

  1. Congratulations to Keith and Ivor.

  2. Stephanie Holliday says:

    Thanks for this opportunity. I enjoyed trying to get a story in to 100 words. It’s a good discipline to try to make every word to count. I really enjoyed both of the winners and, comparing them with my entry, I can see where they got it right and I didn’t (at least I think I can!).
    How many entries you got?
    Just had good news from a friend whose been writing for a lot longer than I have and has submitted many stories to many magazines. She’s just had one accepted by The Weekly News (£80 fee) and is totally over the moon.
    I admire her perseverance.
    The difficult thing I find is that, unless you pay for a critique in a competition, you never know why you weren’t successful so it’s hard to know how to improve. It’s easy to go on making the same mistakes because you don’t know you’re doing it.

    • Stephanie
      I got 21 entries, which wasn’t bad for a first attempt at running a little blog competition! Hopefully I’ll be able to do it again soon. Glad you enjoyed entering it. I agree that competitions can be frustrating because often you don’t know how near or far you were from winning – and they are very subjective of course – a lot depends on the personal preference of the judge(s). Do you ever enter the competitions in Writing Magazine? They do, at least, print a shortlist of about 10 stories, so if you get into that, you know that you were on the right lines! I’ve made the shortlist a couple of times but never won!

  3. Stephanie Holliday says:

    I feel bad – I didn’t congratulate the winners! So congratulations both of you. I liked both your stories; clever and innovative.

  4. Congratulations guys!

  5. Stephanie Holliday says:

    Thanks Helen. 21 entries sounds good for a first attempt at a blog competition. I’l have a look at the comps in Writing Magazine.
    My laptop isn’t working so I’m having to share my husband’s – very annoying as we seem to want to use it at the same time!

  6. Alice says:

    Congratulations to the winners 🙂 They are both excellent stories-very original.

  7. Ivor Seabrook says:

    Just spotted your posts Stephanie & Alice. Thanks both for your congratulations.

  8. Margaret Mather says:

    Well done to both writers. Very good stories. I enjoyed them both.

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