Sheffield Authors Short Story Competition 2017 Results.
And the winner is... Kathleen Pardoe with Roots
One of the shortlisted stories being read out
1st place: Roots by Kathleen Pardoe
This will be published in December's Now Then Magazine
2nd place: Snooker Loopy by Steven Kay
Watch Steve's video of his story click here:
3rd place: Fifty Four Bricks by Carol Cook
The Boxer by Juliet Plant
In Between by Sini-Petriina Kuusisto
Steel City Heart by Julie Thornton
Others who made it onto the longlist:
Katherine Rogers – 120
Ruth Owen – Sally Meredith
Paul Hale – Piping Hot
Sue Day – Anyone and Everyone
Sean Webster – Spur of the Moment
Patrick Ryan – Farewell Tour
Short story top tips
What makes a good short story?
Well, it’s a very personal thing. Last year, there was a degree of consistency amongst the judges, with a broad consensus over an approximate ranking, but there was no immediately obvious winner. The judges argued for their own favourites – and some of them were read aloud to try to persuade the others just how good they were. What moves one person, based on their own life experience, may leave another under-whelmed.
That said, here is our top tips:
- You don’t have words to waste in a 1000 word story – every single word has to do its share of the work. If it doesn’t, get rid – your editing time could well equal your writing time.
- There needs to be some “thing” that provokes a response in your reader: something they weren’t expecting (or possibly were expecting once they're part way in), a revelation, a discovered truth etc. That “thing” can make you laugh, move you, kick you in the gut, make you want to curse, or even just roll your eyes or raise an eyebrow. But what you don’t want is your reader to think: "So what?"
- If that still leaves you a bit puzzled go back to your favourite short stories and try to work out what that “thing” is in each. Or read a few Chekhov short stories: he was a master of the form. He said reading a short story “feels rather like swallowing a glass of vodka.” (What do you think he meant by that? An opening up of the senses followed by a warm glow? – can't beat a slug of vodka and a story at bedtime!)
- Julia Casterton has a good take on it in her, highly recommended Creative Writing – a Practical Guide. She reckons all good short stories have an element of change at their root: “like an insistent bass line. Something always happens and someone always has to deal with (or avoid) what has occurred. The character can meet the change head on, in which case we might feel gratified – or sidestep the new knowledge, try to behave as though everything is the same as before. Either way the change sits there for the reader, fascinating, not to be ignored.
- Once you have written it and edited it, read it aloud to yourself or a friend. If it reads clumsily, or you trip over your words, revisit them.
- If you can make you story "really Sheffield" whatever that might be, so much the better.