Hello everyone. This month I received 30 entries from 19 authors. NB. You could all have submitted three stories for a better chance of getting through to the shortlist. Just saying’. 🙂 Every month there are disqualifications and September was no different…
One was disqualified for having a word (‘to’) missing which would have taken it over the 100 words. Another was disqualified for not being written to the theme.
Another story was withdrawn by the author because he’d submitted a variation elsewhere and it had been successful. Please don’t do this. It just wastes time I don’t have as I don’t wait until the end of the month to read and score them. I don’t mind having stories you’ve previously submitted elsewhere and have not been successful, and if you’ve not been successful in my competition, you’re welcome to then use them elsewhere but please wait until the results have been announced before you duplicate. It’s not long to wait (six weeks at the most).
Some stories missed out on top marks because they were dark but not strictly to the theme. One had been written in an unusual – and very clever – format but sadly the ending let it down. Do remember this is all subjective – just my judgement.
The winning stories are ones that I reacted most favourably to. They were clever, surprising, eek-making (in a good way), or gave me a warm fuzzy feeling (without being sickly).
You may have chosen a different order or indeed not placed one or more of them so if you entered and didn’t find your story / stories here, don’t lose heart. You probably only just missed out (there were originally eight highly commended then I whittled down to the maximum three) so do enter new stories this month*, next month, whenever you like (but not in advance!). It’s an ongoing competition and free, so you could win at any time. There were new and familiar names this month so anyone could win… it’s all dependent upon whether your story grabs me, for whatever reason (whether it be clever, funny, unusual, quirky, or sweet).
A new recent feature… there are some ‘Honourable Mentions’. They don’t win anything but they were so close to being Highly Commended that I wanted them to know how close they came. It’s still something for them to put on their CVs.
*The theme for October is ‘a ghost story’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three so you have a better chance of reaching the shortlist) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Tuesday 31st October.
So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month…
Mark Sadler with ‘The Dorothy Scale’
During the 1990s, I worked with Arthur Mossman in the BBC drama department.
We were housed, far away from the other scriptwriters, in a poky office that was known as The Bastard Farm. Our job was to create memorable villains for TV soaps and dramas, and to cast these roles.
We gauged our success on the reactions of a cafeteria worker named Dorothy, who we would shut in a room with the actors in character. She would rank them on a scale of menace that went from ‘unafraid’ to ‘afraid’, to ‘very afraid’.
Our partnership went downhill after she retired.
M W Brown with ‘A Job to Save the World?’
Lucy stared at the paper.
What is your greatest fear?
She sighed. What sort of question was that for a job application? What did they expect her to put?
She toyed with writing ‘snakes’, ‘work’, or ‘stupid questions’.
She looked at the plush meeting room with its expensive lamps, and at the other applicants in tailored suits scribbling their answers, each with their high-flying stockbroker dreams.
She thought about the homeless she passed on her way to the corporate tower.
Lucy wrote—I’m afraid of the world, and very afraid of getting this job — dropped her pencil and walked out.
Joint third place (winning free access to one of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9) — in alphabetical name order:
Gaynor Jones with ‘Forgetting to Remember’
You are driven to a house you have no memory of.
They tell you it will take time to settle, to readjust.
The husband does not look like anyone you would have chosen and the children do not share your eyes.
They tell you this is normal, that you mustn’t worry.
The walls are deliberately bare. No photographs, no mirrors.
They tell you it’s for your own good.
You wait until night and approach the window. You pull back the curtains and see a stranger staring back at you.
The husband emerges and leads you away, trembling as you scream.
Tarquin Calver with ‘The Mirror’
The circus stall’s banner advertised its scary taunt, ‘be afraid, very afraid’.
The announcer shouted “Enter if you dare. See what you are really like in the mirror of Doooooom!”
Ropey Dave and Midrich Allan drew breaths together, and entered.
Seconds later they re-emerged, smiles aplenty, buzzing hi-5s and collected the photo of their triumph.
“Phutt” spat wisey Ronald DeCavenet. “Such a scam!” and he entered.
Seconds later, a huge scream alerted everyone. His parents pulled the catatonic boy from the mirrored room.
Dave collected the photo of Ronald, a photo framed in a coffin, arms folded, white as death.
- Alyson with‘Left Behind’
- Alyson Faye with ‘Scarecrow’
- Fatima Saeed with ‘The Gods of Olympus’
- Jay Stewart with ‘Surviving in Numbers’
- Justin Rulton with ‘Polter-Weist’
- Paritosh Chandra Dugar with ‘A Storm’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Lyndon Loweth with ‘Into the Void’
- Rebecca Schwenk with ‘Lucien’s Oaks’
Congratulations, everyone. The entries for this month are already drifting in. Remember, you can send up to three per month so rather than miss out on a chance by sending one story, do submit more.
If you’ve enjoyed these stories and / or just want to leave a comment, please do so below and / or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org., although I won’t (can’t) discuss forthcoming entries unless it’s a general query.