Hello everyone and welcome to the fifty-third month of this competition. There were a whopping 58 entries from 30 authors for the theme of the story being in second-person point of view. With so many entries, I’ve had to be even more selective than normal but for the first time ever, there are two winners, two seconds and two thirds. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked.
An interesting mix of stories this month with not all authors truly sticking to the second-person viewpoint. Some were first person with the occasional ‘you’ rather than the narrator solely talking to ‘you’, effectively the reader. Others didn’t mention ‘you’ at all or started in another viewpoint, e.g. ‘I saw you…’ so were disqualified for that. Some of the stories had noticeably many sentences starting with ‘You’. Have too many pronouns starts and the story becomes a list: you did this, you did that. In a story this length, it should be quite easy to avoid having he, she, they, the, I or you kicking off any of the sentences. For August’s theme of ‘update’, there’s an extra challenge of ensuring every sentence avoids a pronoun start!
Others, sadly all too often, ruled out for not being exactly 100 words…
One was disqualified for only being 99 words with no obvious word missing. The author had sent another story so fortunately that went through to judging. Another author sent three stories, two of which were the same so the second was disqualified and in fact the other two were as well as they were third-person point of view rather than second. Another author only sent one story which was sadly also third-person so was disqualified.
Another story was disqualified for only being 99 words as there were three asterisks separating sections and while Word counts them as a word, they aren’t. Sorry! Sadly the author had only sent that one piece so didn’t have a chance this month. Ditto a story with a rogue full stop at the end of the story so when reunited with its previous word (act) but the author had sent two other stories so they qualified. Another solo story was 99 words and had a hyphenated word (crab-like) which only counts as one word (mentioned in the rules) so was disqualified, and had already lost a brownie point for having a ‘lay’ (past tense of lie or to place something in present tense) instead of lie in a present-tense piece. A regular had a story disqualified for having a hyphenated word (book-club) that shouldn’t have been so one of the other stories went through but sadly didn’t make the top few.
Another story was in the top three until upon re-reading, I spotted it had ‘£30 pounds’ so a duplication of the ‘pounds’ so with that word removed, dropped it down to 99 words. 😦
During the first round, I had five winners, three seconds, four thirds, six highly commendeds and six honourable mentions. When I listen to (on my Kindle) the stories as they come in, I place them where I think they will end up so I invariably have too many so have to whittle them down with some of the honourable mentions then losing out altogether. The stories will often change order, some demoted (this month, one was for an unnecessary repetition of the word ‘back’ – I’m a tough crowd!), others promoted until I’m happy with the selection.
As mentioned above, several stories were disqualified for losing the second-person viewpoint story with an ‘I’ where it should have been (and was to that point) ‘you’ or being solely first or third-person pov. Two of three stories by one author slipped and the other had a typo (‘abut’ instead of ‘about’ so lost brownie points for that).
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). Sometimes a story beats another because it has a strong link to the theme so it’s worth writing a story to the theme rather than tweaking a story you already have to loosely fit it. There are often stories similar in plot so some may have missed out being placed purely because there was another story that beat them purely for that reason. This month, second-person being my favourite point of view, some stories lost marks (perhaps missing out on a placing) where the sentences started with ‘You’ too often. This viewpoint makes that all the more obvious.
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 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).
Apart from the top three and highly commended, 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 February is to include the following keywords in your story: ‘single’, ‘cover’, ‘appear’, ‘close’ and ‘case’. You can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Saturday 29th February. Details and entry forms on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition. So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month.
Joint first place – in alphabetical order (both winning free access to three of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £60 / $60) or a free edit and critique of up to 2,000 words (worth £14 / $18):
Kate Twitchin with ‘Just looking’
The woman sitting opposite you in the train could be your mother. She seems really nice. You liked the sympathetic way she smiled as you struggled to squeeze your case onto the rack before dropping into your seat. “Relax now,” she said.
You imagine your life with her as your mum. You’ll talk every day on the phone, go to the cinema together, swap novels. She’ll always be ready to listen to your hopes and dreams, nodding her approval and encouragement.
You wonder if she already has a daughter.
You already have a mother, but that doesn’t stop you looking.
Laura Besley with ‘Look Ahead’
You see her, but keep on walking, hoping she won’t see you.
She trips, falls, and stays on the wet cobbles.
You sigh and walk over to your Older Self. ‘Get up,’ you hiss.
‘I can’t,’ she says.
‘Of course you can.’
She looks at you and her face is no longer an almost-reflection of yours; it’s old, sad.
‘What’s wrong?’ you ask.
‘I don’t know. On paper I’ve got everything I ever wanted, yet I still feel… lost.’
You don’t understand. You thought everything was on track.
‘Come on,’ you say, putting your arm around her. ‘I’ve got you.’
Joint second place – in alphabetical order (both winning free access to two of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £40 / $40) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,500 words (worth £11 / $14):
Alan Barker with ‘Sleight Of Hand’
It begins as a tickle on your neck. Then the wind builds momentum, tugging at your dress. And your nerves.
There’s no escape. Your time is up. This is what happens when you cheat on me.
The noise fills your ears as the underground train hurtles towards you. Your eyes lock with the driver’s. He looks apprehensive. As if he knows.
Consider it a present. From me to you. With love.
You shuffle closer. You breathe in his familiar scent.
A sharp prod is all it needs.
Au revoir, mon cheri.
He pitches over the platform edge like a skydiver.
Carmina McConnell with ‘The Friendship’
You have been a friend now for seventy years. When you were a little girl you were always the one at the centre of trouble. Fierce. Forceful. First.
You: scrambling over the orchard wall, the angry farmer screeching behind. You: splattering the crowd shrieking with glee, as your bare feet squelched into steaming cow pats. You: screaming challenge as you raced wildly round the icy swimming pool. Your terms always.
You spat on the leather as you polished your shoes, mesmerised by your own reflection. You always cheated at games, played love as lying.
Seventy years passed… and nothing’s changed.
Joint third place – in alphabetical order (both 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):
Diana Hayden with ‘Who’s Been In Our House?’
Cute kid claiming homelessness rings doorbell and you let her in. You left her alone while you went to Tescos and returned to find she’d eaten you out of porridge, trashed the beds and nicked Daddy Bear’s PS4.
Baby Bear and Daddy Bear slouched on the sofa – ignoring me. Netflix was no substitute for a game of Minecraft.
“Can you buy a new one, Dad?”
“Ask Father Christmas. He’s probably a friend of your mother’s.”
Come on, Ma Bear, you need to get even with that little brat.
“Social services? I’d like to report a thieving kid. Blonde curly hair.”
Elena Canty with ‘What Lies Within’
You gaze down at the enormous wooden chest. It’s taken you a lifetime, and you’ve made many sacrifices to attain it, but the legendary item is finally in your possession.
There is a note tacked to its lid. On the yellowing paper, in flowing script, it reads, “Inside this chest you will find what you have always wanted.”
You’ve heard the tales of those who have opened this chest before you. Some found unimaginable riches. Others, true love. Your heartbeat quickens as you try to guess what lies inside.
Hands trembling, you lift the heavy lid, and there it is.
- Alicia Gwynn with ‘Guilt’
- Darren York with ‘Last Orders’
- Kathy Schilbach with ‘Sticks and Stones’
- Malcolm Richardson with ‘Revenge’
- Sue Massey with ‘Best Friend’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Carol Allison with ‘The Affair’
- Isabel Flynn with ‘In the Conservatory’
- Jane Brown with ‘The Agony of Waiting’
- Kirtan Savith Kumar with ‘Reflections’
- Paul Mastaglio with ‘Give A Dog A Bone’
- Sophie Toovey with ‘Tomorrow’
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.