Hello everyone and welcome to the fifty-seventh month of this competition. Sorry it’s so late this month… unforeseen circumstances (new books, elderly mother etc.). There were 42 entries from 21 authors for the theme of ‘may or may not’… I did struggle this month with some stories to see where the theme fitted. There either felt no connect or so loose that they felt as if they been tweaked to try to fit the ‘may or may not’. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked.
Two (from the same author) were disqualified for having a ‘maybe’ that should have been ‘may be’ (It may be…). Another was for having words connected with /s which still count as separate words. Even if they hadn’t they were inconsistent so the story would have either been 98 or 101 words. One story was 99 words for no obvious reason other than there being a hyphenated word (16-wheeler) which could have been counted, by the author, as two. Sadly it was the only story submitted by that author so it (and the author) was disqualified. Another story had hyphens between words which Word counts as words but they’re not, and when corrected to dashes, they don’t so was only 96 words instead of 100. There was also other punctuation detached from the word they should have followed so that made the story 95. Fortunately there were two other submitted stories so one went through to the final judging. One story was disqualified because it had ‘maybe’ (noun) as ‘may be’ (verb), https://www.grammar.com/maybe_vs._may_be explains the difference. Sadly the author’s other submission (always worth sending three) was also disqualified for being 108 words. And she was new to the competition this month so doubly sad.
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.
There were two from an author that I felt were as strong as each other. I chose one over the other purely on a ‘began to’* but then the other story had two ‘head’s (no relation) close together and a sinking heart so I decided to keep them both as Highly Commended, winning one prize between them but not publishing the story so the author’s free to send them elsewhere without them being deemed as ‘previously published’.
*Where an action has ‘starts to’ / ‘started to’ or ‘begins to’ / ‘began to’ before it, most of the time they’re not needed because unless the action is interrupted, the verb alone works better / is stronger. An example would be ‘the phone began to ring’. If it stops without being answered then that’s fine (although it still rang!) but if not then just have ‘the phone rang’.
Another tip (inspired by a story where every sentence started ‘The’ or ‘He’): be careful of having too many sentences (and paragraphs in a longer piece) starting with pronouns (e.g. I, he, she, the character’s name). Even if they’re quite long paragraphs so they don’t leap out, it’s something to be mindful of. So if a section feels a bit flat, it could be that you have too many sentences / paragraphs starting with a pronoun, e.g. ‘Barry did this…’ or ‘He did that…’, or that you have too much narration (Andy was angry) vs. dialogue or the character ‘doing’, e.g. “Get out!” Andy slammed his fist onto the desk.
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 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’. The authors 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 June is ‘a Twitter conversation’ (click HERE for an example) and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Tuesday 30th June. 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.
Julian Cadman with ‘Hitting the Buffers’
The smile now leaving our station is yours.
This train of thought will not be stopping, it’s terminal bound.
And please note this journey doesn’t appear on your scheduled timetable.
So, apologies, but due to signalling problems the lights have all turned red.
Your unattended baggage has been destroyed.
Please don’t bother listening out for any further announcements.
And apologies for any delay in your ongoing journey caused by this derailment.
Your first class season ticket to ride is now invalid.
Mind the gap. Did you ever even notice it widening?
You may or may not have.
Anyhow, all change!
Sue Massey with ‘Morgen’s May Prompt’
We discuss Morgen’s May prompt. Jane thinks “may” sounds more eloquent than “might”. She uses “might” a lot. She may try to change that. We recall our childhood manners, “Please may I leave the table?” Only after we’d eaten all our dinner. We decide to have fun with the prompt. During our regular telephone conversations and emails, we will include a sentence using Morgen’s phrase. As many times as we like. After several glasses of wine, its usage becomes funnier and wittier. A month on and it’s still keeping us amused. We may or may not grow out of it!
Taria Karillion with ‘Fiat Iustitia Ne Pereat Mundus’ (May justice be done, lest the world perish)
Two shoppers reach for the last stickered loaf.
One hand, rough, fingernails glossed in Final Reminder Red. The other, rubble-brown, save for the white skin ring of last month’s shopping.
Both pause – the packet is the colour of a graduation gown, and the flag from which the other fled.
Red-nails grabs and turns on broken heel.
At the conveyor belt altar, the other’s too-big coat reveals a baby sling, a tiny hand.
Red looks back… Tearing the loaf in two, she holds out half.
And for a moment, in that small corner of the world, humanity comes up for air.
Valerie Fish with ‘Will I or Won’t I?’
I may or may not have a drink today. That’s my choice. I don’t have to have one, I could stop drinking any time I like, but why should I? It’s my life and I’ll do whatever I like despite what my husband says. He thinks I’m drinking too much. He was mad at me last night, accusing me of flirting with the guy at the bar, and ended up sleeping downstairs. Boring old fart.
He says I’m not the same person when I’ve been drinking. Whatever…
I may or may not have a drink today. But I probably will…
Jane Broughton with ‘Not a Happy Ending’
“Do I look like a genie?” hissed the scaly demon.
“You may or may not be a genie,” Dolores replied, “but you came out of that lamp so you owe me a wish.”
“For the last time, I’m not a genie! I went in there for some peace while I thought up some fresh evil to curse humanity with. It’s not easy coming up with something original and terrifying.”
“Talk to the hand,” Dolores retorted. “I wish for the man of my dreams…”
“Done,” interrupted the demon, “but you didn’t specify which dream.”
Dolores screamed as Boris lumbered towards her.
Lestie Mulholland with ‘Word Adversaries’
‘You may or may not believe me, Maisie, but messy Molly makes magical mulberry muffins.’
There! Fifteen words allowed for the best sentence demonstrating alliteration. I got ten M’s Ma’m.
‘Whether wise William wanted Wally to wait while he went walking westwards we’ll not know.’ I got eleven W’s Ma’m, I win!
My two best students were at it again, head to head. It was on days like these that I loved teaching, you know, when the class instructs itself because it understands and now reaches out to grab just desserts.
Maggie and Michael, 10-year-old combatants, top of my crop!
- Darren York with ‘The Magic Box’ and ‘Back to Oblivion’ (I couldn’t choose between the two!)
- Diana Hayden with ‘Secrets’
- Hannah Rose with ‘Forward or Backward’
- Katie Jones with ‘Mayday’
- Steve Lodge with ‘Let There Be Something’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Jane Brown with ‘Three Children and a Bridge’
- Joyce Bingham with ‘They May Or May Not Grow, The Seeds Are A Bit Old’
- Laura Besley with ‘Regret is Also Pretty Damn Cold’
- Mira with ‘One Last Knock’
- Omer Berkman with ‘The Way Home’
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.