I had 39 entries in total (13 in the ‘Newbie’ category and 26 in the ‘Open’) and the stories had to include the words: collar, dog, bone and stray, used in any shape or form.
Needless to say, there were lots of stories about dogs and there were almost as many with vicars wearing dog collars (and bones being found in dubious circumstances).
Some of the doggy/vicar stories were written very well – indeed, some of them were shortlisted – but when stories have similar themes, it’s difficult for the judge to differentiate between them.
And some of the stories started off really well but then they fizzled out. Some didn’t really end at all or ended in a way that made me scratch my head. No matter how good the rest of the story was, I just couldn’t shortlist those stories and it was a shame in some cases because they’d been so promising up to the last couple of lines.
Some of the stories read like a condensed short story. ‘Flash fiction’ really needs to pack a punch, to make an impression in just a few words and it needs to feel complete.
I know it’s not easy! So I’m full of admiration for all of you that had a go. There were some very impressive stories and without further ado, the winners are:
Hair by Amanda Quinn
The judge (my OH) liked this one because it “was concise, it painted a picture, it was complete” – and he liked the narrator’s self-deprecating tone.
Winner: A Timely Solution – Maggie Cobbett
Runner-up: Gallows Hill by Jo Tiddy
I asked my Thursday lunchtime class to judge this one. We all loved the menacing atmosphere of ‘Gallows Hill’ – and the fact that it was a complete story – but ‘A Timely Solution’, with its clever use of the 4 words, its humour, unusual historical setting and the sneaky introduction of Dr Who, made it a clear winner. (And that’s Madame de Pompadour herself in the picture above).
So, well done, Amanda and Maggie! I’ll email you both now to sort out your prize.