2020 'Short Takes' Prose Competition
Judges Report & Results
(Full List of Award Winners can be accessed here.)
The exceptionally high standard of writing in this section made the judges’ task a real challenge. Often in judging, after an initial read-
The two eventual prize-
Though vastly different in voice and pace, the over-
The Highly Commended and Commended winners also had excellent stories which met most of these standards, falling just short in some areas which precluded a cash prize. These included punctuation mistakes, typos, too much unbroken prose to wade through, or simply not quite making the impact of the remarkably high standard of the winning entries, that elusive x-
For those who were unsuccessful, some points to consider:
Read the competition conditions carefully and abide by them. If you don’t, your entry, no matter how good, won’t even make it to the judges and your entry fee wasted. This applies especially to word count and line-
ps – the convenor has a scanner and will check the word count of every entry. The discipline of keeping to the allotted word count is indicative of tight writing and meticulous self-
Pay careful attention to your use of language, particularly punctuation and spelling. If you claim to be a wordsmith, learn to use the tools of your trade properly. If in any doubt, have someone check it over for you before sending it off. As the author, your brain will read what you think you wrote, not necessarily what made it to the page. It takes another set of eyes to spot any anomalies.
Choose a worthy title – let if grow out of the story, don’t settle for something generic. It’s a part of your story, its banner, and the first thing your readers see.
Never submit your first draft – always do an edit yourself, then have someone else whose writing you trust do another.
Swallow your writer’s pride -
Don’t give up -
The stories entered in this section were of such a high standard that the judges decided to award an extra Highly Commended and an extra Commended. The topics are spread across a wide spectrum but all sharing in the quality of their execution. Top grade story-
(Can be viewed here)
A deceptively mild, tidy opening lets us into the mind of the narrator and sets the pace for a journey that steadily builds a nervousness in the reader of approaching horror, of which the narrator is seemingly unaware. The closing sentence bursts on the page like a time bomb.
(Can be viewed here)
This tale, like the first, is told mostly through the thoughts and actions of the narrator, a widow on the first anniversary of her husband’s death. As she revisits the site of his fatal accident, she relives that day in her mind and the tension begins to build that all is not as it seems. The final sentence, as with the winning story, bursts onto the page, a stunning ending.
Highly Commended – Olga by Karen Lieversz
A highly entertaining story narrated in the modern vernacular, the voice of the main character clearly drawn. The pace fast and every sentence contains new information, perhaps the only drawback to this cracking tale of a hit man, a dog, a dead body and two women. It deserves a much longer word length to do it full justice. Made the judges chuckle.
Highly Commended – Chill by Nellie Crawford
A softly told tale, tinged with sadness, as we hear the narrator reminisce of a loving relationship. But there is a subtle building of awareness in the reader of loss approaching, the twist in the ending a shock we don’t see coming.
Highly Commended – A Failure in the House by Jim Brigginshaw
A familiar tale of a misunderstanding and crossed wires, everyone knows someone like Fred. Highly entertaining with clearly drawn characters through the dialogue between them.
Commended – Altered by Abigayle Carmody
Commended – Watching the Sunset by Christine Johnson
A fresh and unexpected take on the post-
Commended – A Job Well Done by Karen Lieversz
An extremely unusual take on the issue of climate change, with the elements of Fire, Drought and Rain being given human qualities and Earth herself being the battleground. The debate between them exemplifies the eternal battle of the seasons on our planet. Well done
Commended – The Red Poppy by Ken Morrell
A gently sad tale told from aged care during Covid lockdown, as a man ‘confined to barracks’ by a sniffle, recalls his army service days. Beautifully done.
The stories chosen for awards in this section were a delightful and entertaining mix of the amusing and the harrowing. From a pair of octogenarian runaways to a Pommy immigrant arriving from the UK winter in the full blast of a Brisbane summer. They shared between them all the elements of good writing, making the judges’ task a tough one, but very rewarding. All showed a fresh approach to the topic, vivid imagery with plenty of show/not tell, and a clear voice, staying on topic and not wandering around.
First Prize – Never Too Old by Tania Park
(Can be viewed here)
Clever writing so clearly draws the characters of a busload of people that the reader can see and hear them. We are taken along on the ride with a pair of 80 year old runaways who have eloped to foil the disapproval of their families. The ending is befitting this heart-
(Can be viewed here)
A delightful story of the eventful holiday of two brothers, with the relationship between them clearly drawn. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things when the situation requires it. Well done.
Highly Commended – Go North Young Man by Victoria Mizen
A story we could all relate to, but with a twist to jolt it out of the ordinary. Dad is portrayed a battling his PTSD demons, a fear of bangs and fireworks from his wartime experiences but not allowing it to spoil his children’s enjoyment of the occasion.
Highly Commended – Dragon Snorting Fire by Don Horne
Cleverly told tale of a series of events related to an old sporting injury resulting in an unexpected windfall. Highly entertaining.
Commended – Growing Up by Coral Waight
A story many women of the era of stay-
A delightful tale of a memory from childhood of a special annual treat, a car trip to go shopping in Melbourne. Clearly described with a child’s perspective, it would resconate with many.
Commended – Hindsight by Rosemary Stride
Related with the wry amusement only hindsight can supply, this delightful tale tells of a young mother arriving from the UK’s winter to the full blast of a tropical Brisbane summer. Highly entertaining take on the problems of dealing with culture shock while trying to manage small children.
Congratulations to all those whose stories were successful. If your entry wasn’t one of them, take heart. The competition was stiff, so read the tips and tricks on this website, do a rewrite and enter your story elsewhere for a better result. Please remember this is only the opinion of the judges of this competition.
Thank you for trusting us with your work.