Hello everyone and welcome to the sixty-seventh month of this competition. There were 48 entries from 20 authors for the theme of ‘going to camp’. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked.
One was disqualified for being 103 words, another 99 words and a third (unfortunately all from the same author) 97 because there were three ‘camp site’s instead of https://www.lexico.com/definition/campsite. I have to be fair to all authors to correct any errors. Another author’s story ended up being 99 words for ‘camp related quips’ which should have been ‘camp-related…’. Fortunately another story went through. The same happened for a story with ‘egg shells’ instead of https://www.lexico.com/definition/eggshell.
One of another author’s stories had a ‘booked-in’ as a verb (They’d booked-in) where it should have been ‘booked in’ so again disqualified for not being 100 words. Sorry!
One author’s only story was disqualified for having ‘on board’ rather than ‘onboard’. It’s why it’s always worth submitting three stories. Another of the same author’s stories was disqualified for counting two words with ellipses between as one word (see observations below).
- when speaking to someone and using a name, nickname or term of endearment (which counts as a name), generalisation (guys, ladies etc.), you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
- I strongly recommend you don’t invert dialogue tags as it’s not how we would naturally speak if talking aloud, e.g. changing ‘said Tony’ to ‘Tony said’. ‘said’s do tend to blur into the background so don’t try too hard to choose something else, e.g. ‘Tony postulated’, even ‘Tony exclaimed’ could be too much if we already have the likes of ‘Get out!’ It’s not so bad when you don’t have a name but having the ‘said’ or equivalent is more natural where you have a character’s name.
- this is very much personal preference (I’m not a fan) but ‘cried’ can imply physical tears rather than an exclamation and the exclamation ‘cried’ implies a volume. Anything that could be distracting is best avoided.
- where the speech has an unrelated dialogue tag, e.g. someone laughing, moving, smiling, waving etc. (with it capitalised: He laughed. She picked up the mug.’ etc.) the punctuation should be a full stop rather than a comma. Had it been related description, it would be a comma.
- like erm, we do say ‘well’ as a dialogue pause but it’s best not to include it in our writing, or at the most have it as a characteristic for one of the characters. Ditto ‘look’.
- as mentioned above, https://www.lexico.com/definition/on-board can be hyphenated or not. When used as an adjective in relation to a vehicle, it’s hyphenated, e.g. the on-board catering staff whereas computer related would be ‘onboard memory’. Used as a verb, e.g. to onboard a client, there’s no hyphen.
- I often come across ‘ing’s following ‘said’ and there are three here. A way to avoid that is to split the sentence but where there’s narration, especially the character doing something, the ‘said’ could go, e.g. “That’s not fair.” Taylor pushed forward the note… rather than: “That’s not fair,” Taylor said, pushing forward the note.
- ellipses are one ‘character’ … rather than three individual full stops. Regardless of whether you put a word straight after them or have a space the two words (Tents… yes / No… tense) in this case count as two words. One of the stories therefore ended up being 102 words because of it.
- a comma is generally not needed where ‘too’, ‘al/though’, ‘n/either’, ‘then’ and other conjunctions / conjunctives ends the sentence. It would if the remainder of the sentence made sense on its own, e.g. ‘Tom wasn’t finished in Glasgow, though he only wanted to go home.’ Commas slow the pace but I generally include them where a reader would take a breath.
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 stronger 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. Alternatively there may have been several stories on with same topic so I chose my favourite of those. With any competition, much rests upon the judge’s preference and it’s usually ones than garner a stronger (positive) reaction that do the best.
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 April is ‘learning something new’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Friday 30th April. 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 (each 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 £30 / $42):
Kaitlin Woodland with ‘Scissors’
If at the start I knew that when I left everything behind all I would be doing was going to camp, I would not have gone through all the struggles, hardships and pain for next to nothing. I suffered many months struggling blindly through the tightly woven folds in the fabric of war, only to get tangled within the frayed ends of the camp walls. The camp from which I am stuck in. I am labelled as a refugee but I am really just a person seeking scissors. The scissors I need to cut myself free and finally find freedom.
Sarah Robin with ‘Mother and Son’
Several hours had passed when I awoke from my mother’s lap at the sound of distressed voices. The train was slowing down, passing huge mounds of luggage as tall as buildings, and hundreds of soldiers paced the grounds in their green uniforms. The red, black and white flags flapped rhythmically in the wind.
The train finally stopped and the soldiers barked loudly as they approached the train, their guns swinging on their backs. Women started screaming and children cried hysterically.
My mother gripped my leg tightly as they reached our carriage. That was the last time I felt her touch.
Joint second place (each 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 £22.50 / $31.50):
Douglas Goodrich with ‘Hello from Camp Wann-Tona-Pooa’
Dear Mom and Dad,
Hello from Camp Wann-Tona-Pooa.
I’m writing to inform you of the atrocities that are committed here every day. Last week my roommate, the immature Daniel, decided it would be funny to put ants in my pants, literally.
After three hours in the medical tent, I discovered that my diary was stolen and Monica, my future wife, obtained a copy informing her that I thought she was beautiful. Then, someone hung my dirty underwear (with my name on the tag) up a flagpole for all to salute.
Hope you’re well.
PS. Kiss Bullwinkle for me.
Nicholas Marshall with ‘We’re Off’
Inside the cupboard excitement is growing.
The tent pegs are singing “We’re off to camp today.”
“Don’t forget the painkillers,” says one. “The mallet is brutal.”
“You’re pathetic!” yells the rope.
“Get knotted,” the tent pegs reply.
The cooking pot wakes and says she’s ashamed of her rust.
“Nothing a good scour won’t remedy,” advises the pan.
Some gleaming plates don’t want to get dirty again.
“Don’t worry,” says the chief plate. “Remember we’re dishwasher safe.”
When the cupboard doors are opened the chatter stops.
Everything goes into large bags.
“Oh no,” says a tent peg, “we’ve forgotten the painkillers.”
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 £15 / $21):
Jane Broughton with ‘Better Safe than Sorry’
Derek had been up since sunrise packing camping equipment into the car. Florence watched from the comfort of her armchair. She heard his cheery whistling and shuddered. For the last twenty years she’d endured his idea of a good, cheap, holiday while yearning for hotels with cocktails, and memory foam mattresses.
“Come on, Flo, hurry up!” he shouted.
Florence picked up the large wooden mallet.
“You won’t need that, silly,” he said. “Remember, we’ve got a new pop-up tent.”
She ignored him and swung the heavy object into the boot. She added the cast iron skillet too, just in case.
Highly commended (winning my Entering Writing Competitions course worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £15 / $21) – in alphabetical order:
- CJ Nicol with ‘Camp Anonymous’
- Darren York with ‘Be Back Soon’
- E. Rhodes with ‘Yukon Territory 1992’
- Mike Rymarz with ‘Third Time’s a Charm’
- Yvonne Mastaglio with ‘Inside Out’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- David Filce with ‘Going to Camp’
- Joyce Bingham with ‘Three Nights of Bliss’
- Paul Mastaglio with ‘A Turn for the Worse’
- Robert Cairns with ‘Summer Holiday’
- Sue Massey with ‘Your Tent or Mine?’
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 email@example.com, although I won’t (can’t) discuss forthcoming entries unless it’s a general query.