Sheffield Short Story Competition 2019
This year our competition was supported by, and with prizes from:
and we couldn't be happier to be associated with such good stuff!
Winning entry will be published in the Star or Telegraph.
The longlist (in no particular order):
- The Man in the Crane by Jenna-Louise Derby
- Who Cares? by Sue Beardon
- Division Street by Beverley Ward
- Bullet by Jess Said
- Danse Macabre by Sharon Mossbeck
- Fox Valley by Jenny Jack
- A Near Miss by Martin Flynn
- This is What I Hope You Will Remember by Hannah Whiteoak
- Donor by Claire Walker
- A Desk and Chair by Ken Hutton
- There by Ricky Kay
- Ski Slope by Martyn Shenton
There were 85 entries and the standard was very high this year. If you are miffed by not getting on the longlist, please don't be. Some of the stories not on the longlist were the favourites of some of the judges. Others were brilliant pieces of writing but just not "Sheffield" enough (whatever that means), or superb pieces of memoir writing that lacked a certain something. The judges will be available on the night to give you feedback if you want it. Or just contact us.
2019's competition is now already a fading memory. We'll be back next year.
You can see last year's winning stories here
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.
And if you don't like the way we've said it, here are some thoughts by the great Arnold Bennett: