Hello everyone and welcome to the seventy-sixth, and final!, month of this competition (so I can concentrate on my writing). There were 68 entries from 27 authors for the theme of ‘sometimes good things have to come to an end’. So without further ado…
One was disqualified for being 102 words although one extra was a comma so actually 101 words, still over the limit/amount. The author’s second story was 100 but had two words with no space so amounted to 101. The third, sadly, was 103, purely with extra words so all three were disqualified.
A story from another author was disqualified for having ellipses (…) separate from the preceding word. Punctuation doesn’t count as a word so conjoining them reduced the word count to 99.
One story was submitted twice, with a few days in between, so the second was not accepted.
An author’s only story became 99 words for having https://www.lexico.com/definition/feel-good as two words rather than hyphenated. And another story (different author) had https://www.lexico.com/definition/hothouse, referring to a botanic hothouse rather than a regular house that’s hot, as two words instead of one. And another https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/food_bank as one word rather than two. A real shame.
Another story was 99 words but had a one-word title so perhaps was included in error. The same author submitted a 98-word story but fortunately the other was 100 words so that went through.
One story lost a couple of brownie points for having it’s (it is) instead of its (possessive) and girls (plural) instead of girl’s (something belonging to the girl). It made no difference to the word count and easy mistakes to make.
- ‘everyday’ is one word when preceding a noun, e.g. an everyday occurrence. Otherwise it’s ‘every day’, e.g. it happens every day. One story had the former instead of the latter so was disqualified. Another of the author’s stories was also disqualified for having ‘soon to be’ instead of ‘soon-to-be’ (see https://www.lexico.com/definition/soon-to-be) which again impacted the word count.
- Where 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 so: He laughed. ‘Say that again.’. Had it been related description, it would be a comma: ‘Say that again,’ he said while fiddling with his tie. The rules are different (flexible) when the speech continues as the same sentence. Also where the speech shows us what’s happening (e.g. someone saying ‘Yes’ then we’re told the person agreed) we don’t need the dialogue ‘tag’ (e.g. ‘he agreed’). There can be up to three exchanges (him/her, him/her, him/her) before the reader could lose track. Again, having the relevant character do something so there’s accompanying narration always helps. Do avoid one character saying the other’s name (too often), especially where they know each other. We don’t in real life, unless perhaps being frustrated or overly pleased with them.
- Other than the likes of selfish, myself etc., most ‘self’ words are hyphenated. https://www.lexico.com/definition/self- provides a couple of examples. https://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-types-of-hyphenation-that-may-seem-wrong-but-aren’t also makes interesting reading. The same goes for ‘semi’ where most connecting adjectives (https://www.lexico.com/definition/semi-professional) are hyphenated (and therefore count as one word in a competition). Used alone it’s obviously not. See https://www.lexico.com/definition/semi.
- Numbers under 100 – unless titles (e.g. BMW Series 5) – are best written in full so they blend with the rest of the text (especially where they are 1st and the likes, as some eReaders dislike like superscript) so I’ve amended the ones that are.
- One of the stories was inspired by a well-known scene from a famous movie. It’s fine as the actual words were different. The characters’ names were used but again that’s fine. Names aren’t copyright. Some are trademarked, such as Harry Potter so you have to be careful there.
- n/ever in my/his/her life: n/ever is technically the equivalent of life so the ‘never’ or ‘ever’ on its own should be enough.
- generic nouns (the doctor) are not capitalised whereas names are (Doctor Smith).
- I’m a stickler for unintended repetition and listen to the submissions on my Kindle (Fire’s text-to-speech), alongside reading it on the screen, so some leap out (‘again’ in one story). ‘just, ‘now’, ‘very’, ‘back’ and ‘all’ are often overused.
- 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. If what’s said is very short, e.g. ‘Hi John’, then the comma’s not so important.
- This is very much personal preference (I’m not a fan) but ‘cried’ as a verb implies physical tears rather than an exclamation and the exclamation ‘cried’ implies a volume. Anything that could be distracting is best avoided.
- I try to chop commas where possible but use them but keep them where a reader would make a definitive pause if reading aloud or where there are two parts to a sentence. An example in one of the entries was ‘I would never share you and…’ A reader could expect the narrator to name something else he or she wouldn’t share but the rest of the sentence, while connected to the story, isn’t connected to the sharing so there should be a comma after ‘you’ so it’s clear.
- Where a story ‘shows’ us the plot we then don’t need to be told what’s happening. A character with silver hair is doing something for the last time, implies s/he is retiring. Trust your readers to understand what’s going on. That said, there was more than one story where I went ‘Huh?’ so read the pieces again. I still went ‘Huh?’ and went on to the authors’ next stories. ‘Huh?’ isn’t great the first time and definitely not a second. There’s a fine line between an author knowing what s/he means and trusting the reader to ‘get it’. If you can, get a second, ideally third, opinion.
- Where you have two (or more) characters of the same gender in the scene, it can be confusing with just ‘he, she, him, her’ etc. (they should always refer to the last character mentioned). If it doesn’t then it needs changing to the correct name. One story had Tom then Jim then ’he’ meaning Tom (I think) but could have been read as Jim crawling. It’s not an error as such but anything that could pull a reader out of the story is best avoided.
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.
Everyone who entered this month wins free access to my Entering Writing Competitions course worth £20 / $20. All prizes will be honoured until Monday 28th February 2022.
Further details from https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition.
The successful entries this final month are… <drum roll then dramatic pause>
First place (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):
Julia Ruth Smith with ‘The End of Beauty’
When I call them laughter lines, the minute creatures that live in the crinkles around my eyes giggle and make me sneeze. They’re having a meeting about how to face the future, now that I’ve wandered unprepared into the ageing process. One team has been assigned the job of pulling the skin tight behind my ears using pulleys and they’ve hired a swarm of tiny, tiny bees to sting my thinning lips and fill the grooves with nourishing honey. When I flick on the stark bathroom light a collective gasp goes up and they decide to apply for further funding.
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):
Denise Bayes with ‘The Perfect Dessert’
It had been his ambition since catering college. In endless restaurant kitchens, he had practised.
At first, he had piped featherlight meringues. The eighties brought puddles of intense berry sauce, Italian influences to his plates. Deconstruction was the next trend, elements of each dessert served separately.
At night, he studied vast cookery books.
His reputation grew. Saturday morning TV chefs referred to his ideas.
Then tonight, it happened.
Flavours balanced. Presentation exceptional. His life’s work on one plate.
At the end of shift, he folds his apron.
Leaves his key on the table and drives off into the night.
Joyce Bingham with ‘It was in a Random Page’
Inside is a receipt used as a bookmark, left by you, from two months ago. I hope you read it through and 127 wasn’t your final page. The book smells of the library, the musty sweet smell, like an elusive make of chocolate. Did you notice? I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have, and when the end came you put the book down and sighed. Did you start your next book straight away or did you, like me, need to decompress, to step away from the world we entered? Did it change your life? It did mine.
Joint third place (each 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):
Celeste Mulholland with ‘Tat for Tit!’
“From her lover to her friend …why do all good things come to an end?”
“I don’t know, Stanley, all I do know is that Cecilie asked me to break up with you.”
“I offer a ‘break up nicely’ service to people who want a personal touch.”
“And you charge for this? For breaking hearts?”
“Cecilie said she is very sorry but she doesn’t love you anymore.”
“Well you can tell her I don’t love her anymore either and I refuse to be her friend.”
“Oh! Do you want to use my services too?”
Mike Harries with ‘Solis Ortum’
Sunrise. I stand, and he sits, staring at its beauty. Autumn, it had taken six months for us to be able to see such on our morning walks.
So many things are often taken for granted until circumstances predict what lay ahead. Illness takes away, separates, leaving us with love.
‘It’s ok, I got you,’ I whisper, knowing it will be our last Christmas together.
We reach home, and he stares at me, wagging his tail. My head is filled with inaudible words. It’s my time. See you on the other side.
He lays down and closes his reddish-brown eyes.
Sophie Sconcia with ‘Just One Last Bet’
His toast fell butter side up. The bus he was running for was held at a red light, but the rest were all green. He kicked a football back to a kid and it bounced off a bin into the park goal. There was a penny on the street outside the betting shop.
He pushed the wad of cash over the counter, hands trembling. Would the telly in the corner with its tinny commentary be his saviour or executioner? He gripped the betting slip tighter, sweat tickling the back of his neck, and felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
Zannie Rose with ‘A Taste of Honey’
It was a peaceful death. Ben had known his time was near. His life had been blessed by Eliza and two kind sons. And his bees, his beloved bees. His friend had promised to take over his hives, moving them to his field when the time was right.
Ben was buried at the church where he had wed Eliza and christened the boys. The vicar was bringing the service to an end when her voice was drowned by the sound of bees, hundreds of them swarming into the church, settling on the wicker coffin where they said their final goodbye.
The following story was disqualified (for not having https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/brain_freeze as two words) but I loved it. So no prize but I wanted to share it with you…
Sue Massey with ‘Party Time’
I was late coming to Morgen’s party. A fabulous party. Full of challenges, surprises and occasionally prizes. With gusto I’ve tackled her monthly prompts. They’ve been the motivation and inspiration to fulfil my New Year’s resolutions. To enter a writing competition a month. Mission accomplished! I hesitate to mention the struggles, grammatical howlers, miscounted words, brain-freeze, re-writes, deadlines. It’s been an invaluable learning experience. Sadly, the party’s over. Time for Morgen to concentrate on her writing. And here’s my new prompt. To get on with a long-standing half-started project bubbling on the back-burner. It’s time to get my party started.
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:
- Ariana Hagen with ‘The Dream Always Ends’
- Cathy MacKenzie with ‘The Jump’
- Fiona McKay with ‘Freefall’
- Jim Latham with ‘Empty Cupboard’
- Julie Gavin with ‘The End of Things’
- Laura Besley with ‘Take to the Sky’
- Liz Hardie with ‘The Homecoming’
- Paul Mastaglio with ‘Time to check out’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything* but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV… *still receiving the EWC course for entering) – in alphabetical order:
- Betsy Bennett with ‘The Past Is Now’
- Darren York with ‘Forever Young’
- Joan Reed with ‘The Good Old Days’
- Kate Seago with ‘Seasons Joy’
- Kathie Muir with ‘It Makes Me Sick’
- Wendy Howard with ‘Tim and the Maid of Honour Tart’
Congratulations, everyone. And thank you. 🙂