‘Exuberant’ Random Word Competition: Result & Judge’s Report

It’s time to reveal the winner and runner-up of my latest ‘random word’ competition, which was kindly judged by Sally Zigmond.

These were the 5 shortlisted stories (if you want to read them in full, they’re on the previous post), this time with the authors names.

• Indulgence – Jan Halstead
• The Apprentice Dwarf – Keith Havers
• The Caretaker – Christine Cherry
• The Exuberant Miss Kettle – Pippa Gale
• What did I do? – Ninette Hartley

And here is Sally’s report, in which she reveals her choice of winner and runner-up:

“When Helen asked me to judge her latest Random Words competition, I was thrilled – until I realised what an impossble job it was. Thay were all such good stories! But, as they say, there can only be one winner.

I found choosing the short-list relatively easy because I had a (cunning?) plan. I looked for stories that used all the random words either ingeniously or so unobtrusively that I didn’t notice them. Two words were easy to hide. Order and Eight are both quiet words. On the other hand Exuberant and Naughty shouted. But Kettle – well let’s say it was a toughie.

Having picked my short-list, the next stage was a real struggle. In fact all ten long-listed entries were excellent with such variety. All the three stories that didn’t rise quite to the very top were worthy of winning.

In What did I do? we have a mother with the hangover from hell with a wise daughter. It made me smile as I remember my past! Whilst I don’t think all flash fiction should be funny, I felt the prompt words didn’t really lend themselves to doom and gloom. After all the bad news lately, we could all do with a laugh.

Alas it was with a heavy heart I said goodbye to The Apprentice Dwarf. Naming him ‘Naughty’ alerted me to the mood of the last line. So when it came, although I smiled, I wasn’t surprised.

Similarly The Exuberant Miss Kettle was an absolute delight. Its garrulous parrot was both funny and ingenious. The final twist was great, too. However it didn’t seem right that two of the random words were in the title. Taking the easy way out or sheer cleverness? In the end I went for the former. Sorry.

On the face of it, The Caretaker looked an unspectacular story. Then again, it was so very subtle. Neither characters were named but I’ve met them both over the years. Dialogue and action were sharp and witty. I loved the way the un-named caretaker was confident in his approach and similarly impressed by the way the ‘whistler’ changed from the male caretaker to the female teacher and I cheered when he got his come-uppance. And notice how none of the random words hit us in the face. A super runner-up.

And finally, my winner: Indulgence. Naturally, all entries were anonymous. And yet, someone ‘knew’ I have a soft spot for monks. Although the writer was one of two who went for Kettle crisps, it was in Indulgence where it hit the spot. In addition, both Brother Gregory and Father Ambrose were characters who immediately came alive in simple words. A winner worthy of a halo. Well done.

Finally, having entered many short story competitions over the years and judged a few, I have always found judging more traumatic than writing. A judge is in the spotlight, head above the parapet, a bull’s eye for rotten eggs. And with enough clichés to sink the Titanic, I’ll now jump overboard…”

Thank you, Sally for an excellent report and congratulations to Jan Halstead, the overall winner and Christine Cherry, runner-up. I’ll be in touch with you both by email very soon to send you your prizes.

Commiserations to the 3 whose stories were also in the shortlist. I’m sure you’re disappointed not to have won but I hope you feel pleased – as you should be – that you made it so far, out of over 40 entries. That’s no mean achievement.

When I get to 900 followers (!) I’ll be running another of these random word competitions, so if you enjoyed entering this time – or would like to have a go next time – keep your eyes peeled!

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7 Responses to ‘Exuberant’ Random Word Competition: Result & Judge’s Report

  1. Patsy says:

    Congratulations to the winners, and those shortlisted – and the judge for managing to pick a winner from such good stories.

  2. Ninette90 says:

    Congratulations to the winner and runner-up! I was disappointed not to be up there but delighted to be in the top five. Thank you for running the competition, I’m looking forward to the next one…nine tequilas perhaps? 🙂

  3. Keith Havers says:

    Congratulations, Jan. That’s the one I would have picked. I laughed out loud at the last line. Thanks for the fun, Helen and thanks to Sally for the feedback.

  4. philippabowe says:

    A worthy winner – as the judge said, the characters really come alive. Well done Jan, Christine, and everyone on the short list! Not forgetting thanks to Helen for running another fun comp and Sally for the judging.

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