I have to admit, I think it was hard this time. Some of you clearly struggled with ‘whale’ and ‘kidney’ (I would have struggled too!).
There were lots of steak-and-kidney pies and kidney-shaped pools and beached whales and people having a ‘whale of a time’ (12 entries used ‘whale of a time’, in fact). I was surprised more people didn’t use ‘whale’ as a surname. When I was a student I had a tutor called John Whale. Amongst the entries there was just one’Professor Whale’). There was only one ‘honeymoon’ (remember, you could add to a word) and a few ‘whalebones’, which I liked – oh, and a couple of ‘kidney beans’ amongst the entries.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at the number of kidney transplant/medical stories. They couldn’t all make the longlist. When there are a few entries with a similar theme – no matter how well written – they tend to blur into one another and aren’t as memorable as they should be (there were also a few stories about people being poisoned). I’m not sure what the answer to that is, except, perhaps, don’t go with your first thought. Clearly, quite a few people saw ‘kidney’ and immediately thought of transplant or organ-selling.
Most people used the 5 required words (kidney, whale, honey, seven, race) correctly but I had to disqualify two entries (one of which had been on the longlist) because the writer had used ‘racing’ instead of ‘race’ or ‘raced’ (a third used ‘racing’ but also had ‘race’ in the story, so that was fine). You were allowed to add letters to the word but the original word had still be there.
If you’re not in the longlist, don’t be disheartened. You wrote something, you entered a competition – that’s all good. Read the shortlisted entries when they’re published here in a few days – and the judge’s report – and see what wins and why. That way, your hard work won’t have been wasted; you’ll have learned from the experience. Your story wasn’t chosen this time but next time… who knows?
Here, in alphabetical order, by title, are the 10 longlisted entries. If you’re on here – hurrah – but remember you need to remain anonymous until the ‘final judge’ has made his/her decision, so don’t reveal which is your story, for a few more days, if you don’t mind!
As Pretty As
Don’t Say I Never Treat You
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
You Can Run