The William Taylor Memorial Heartland Short Story Competition

The Heartland Short Story Competition started in 2004. It has since been renamed The William Taylor Memorial (Heartland) Short Story Competition in memory of William (Bill) Taylor, who gave freely of his time and advice to help establish Taumarunui Writers’ Group and this competition.


We are pleased to advise that the winning entries are as follows: 


 1st Place : Bruce Costello, Hampden, North Otago. On the Third Day

 2nd Place: Bevan M. Nicol, Whangaparoa, “Detached”

 3rd Place: Linley Jones, Half Moon Bay, Auckland, “Heartbeat”


1st Place: Robyn Gower, Ohura, “Heart”

 2nd Place: Lynda Taylor, Waiouru, “A Korero”

 3rd Place: Pixi Robertson, Taumarunui, “A Ghost for Two and Sixpence”

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to Helen Reynolds 07 896 6096. 

The 2018 Competition

The William Taylor Heartland Memorial Short Story Competition 2017 competition attracted over 100 entries from  various parts of New Zealand.

The judge assessed the entries “blind” without knowing their names or where they came from. The Judge was Sue Emms and we will put more information on this page about her in the next day or so.

General comment

One of the great pleasures of judging a writing competition is the opportunity to read a lot of stories written in a broad range of styles – and one of the great challenges is to judge each story fairly against the others.

There are three main aspects to consider:

  1. The story itself – the events, the characters, what happens, and its meaning.
  2. The written expression – the use of structure to shape a story, of language to convey it, and the use of writing principles to convey it all clearly and effectively.
  3. The writer’s voice and style.

In reading the 100 stories submitted for the competition, I first noted my emotional and subjective reactions to each one: did I laugh, or sigh, or get a lump to my throat; was I transported, even for a few moments, into a character’s life or situation; did the ending make me gasp or wince, smile, or give me a moment of understanding?  Any stories that achieved any of those things was put in a pile for a second reading.

That was a very big pile indeed. There were few stories that didn’t have some kind of emotional resonance – and for that, you can give yourself a pat on the back.

On the second read through, I started focusing on the technical aspects of the submissions. The first question I asked was is this a story? Not all of them were. Some entries were essays, or anecdotes, or poems, or memoir pieces, and those manuscripts were put aside because, even if well written, they are not stories.

Stories need a strong beginning, for events to develop and unfold, for characters to take actions of some kind that lead to a satisfying conclusion; the elements may be subtle, but they do need to exist, and they should work together to create a sense of an underlying meaning. 

And that’s what I looked for next. Were general story elements present, and did they convey some kind of meaning? In some instances, no. Stories may have started strongly but trailed away, or may have had unnecessary introductory information, or lost their way in the middle, or they may have had too many characters and events for a short story, and they too were put aside. 

At this point, I noted stories that were original, or which tackled familiar themes in an original way, and whittled my pile down to a longlist of 18 stories.

My next readings were focused on the technical: the use of language and of writing principles, and here is where I focused on the nitty-gritty, the minor differences that separated one story from another.

At this point, I whittled the longlist down to a shortlist of just eight stories, which I reviewed once again. I thought about the initial emotional impact of each. I thought about the technical expertise, the writer’s personal style and voice. Very little separated the top eight stories.

I loved them all, for different reasons, but it was the three that created an emotional connection with me, that were well-written, and in which the author’s voice was clear and confident that rose to the top.

Congratulations to the winner of the competition, the place-getters and those on the Highly Commended list, and a big thank you to everyone who submitted their stories for consideration. Good luck with your future writing.

Winners – open category

First Place:                  #27. On the Third Day

Second Place:             #95. Detached

Third Place:                 #8. Heartbeat

Highly Commended

#14. Bitter Orange Marmalade

#35. Old Love

#46. Immanence

#75. Skegness

#45. Somnavatar

Top three – RDC category

#80 Heart

#70 A Korero

#41 A Ghost for Two-and-Sixpence

Story comments for place-getters in open category

#27. On the Third Day

The author controls language and written expression to convey an insightful story that explores life, love, and meaning. There is a sense that every element fits together, from the direct but lyrical language that suits the setting, the characters, and the story purpose; the sustained motif and imagery are effective, and the characters are believable and sympathetic. The echo of religious references in the title signalled elements of the story without giving anything away – and it was, in fact, one of the few titles that were meaningful to its story. Quietly powerful.

#95. Detached

The author has used language, imagery and writing devices cleverly and creatively to explore the life of an elderly rest-home resident. In fact, Detached is the best story of aging and memory loss I’ve read in a long time. Great imagery, great use of repetition to build an understanding in the reader, and excellent control of language. Genuinely moving.

#8. Heartbeat

The author has made good use of imagery and motif to carry the story of a mother’s love, and of the relationship between her and her son. The story had a couple of inconsistencies and some writing errors, but good control of flashbacks, well-drawn characters and a strong underlying theme made it meaningful and moving. 

Story comments for place-getters in RDC category

#80. Heart

Told with touches of humour and in a direct and engaging style, Heart is a well-written exploration of mental illness and loss. The author builds the story well and the closing scene is genuinely moving.

#70. Korero

The author uses dialogue and descriptive detail to explore the dynamics between two neighbours and to build a story that conveys a sense of hope (on the part of one neighbour) that is quickly dashed. The story meanders a little in the middle and gets bogged down in ‘small stuff’ dialogue that isn’t really necessary, but the author has painted a clear scene overall, and the reader is genuinely sympathetic toward the protagonist.

#41. A Ghost for Two-and-Sixpence

Good use of language and descriptive detail means A Ghost effectively conveys a sense of a co-dependent and not very healthy relationship. There are slips in the point of view that take some of the tension out of the story, but emotions and events are, otherwise, nicely conveyed. Meg’s underlying cruelty is subtle, but a powerful element within the story

NOTE. #97 Sub-Tropical was an engaging and well-written story, but it was well over the allowed word limit which meant it couldn’t really be considered for one of the top three places: the additional length gave it an unfair advantage. However, I would like to note that it was an appealing and moving piece.

Short List – general

S/L 8. Heartbeat

S/L 14. Bitter Orange Marmalade

S/L 27. On the Third Day

S/L 35. Old Love

S/L 45. Somnavata

S/L 46. Immanence

S/L 75. Skegness

S/L 95. Detached

Long List

L/L 2. Bob and Maggie and the Price of War

L/L 3. The Man with the Sad Eyes

L/L 26. Brown Eyes

L/L 28. Shells

L/L 49. Postcards

L/L 58. The Tree

L/L 68. Limpet

L/L RDC. 80. Heart

L/L 94. Every Day Previous

L/L 100. Stars Watch

Feedback on all stories



Areas to strengthen

1. Rest in Peace Bobby Kahu

Entertaining yarn, well written

Strengthen focus, e.g. opening paragraph not needed as it adds nothing to the story. To be a story, rather than a yarn or anecdote, it needed a stronger structure.

L/L 2. Bob and Maggie and the Price of War

Moving, good device of the crossed letters. Familiar scenario handled well. Well written.

Slightly familiar storyline. Little character interaction:  though that added to the sense of distance between the lovers.

L/L 3. The Man with the Sad Eyes

Moving story of memory, love, loss and hope. Well written in the observational style.

Slightly clunky shift in one paragraph from focus on single couple to general couples.

4. Dead Even

Generally well written; covers a big time span effectively, which is not easy to do in a short story

Hard to engage with unlikeable characters; little sense of character interaction or of how  Derek ‘knows’ Matt killed Julie. How does he know that, when the police don’t?

5. Haramai

Original setting and scenario and some excellent descriptive detail.

The reason Haramai left home in the first place wasn’t clear, and nor was it clear as to why he had to return, which meant a significant story element felt unfinished. Odd story layout: no need to use a new page for each part, or to use parts in a short story.

6. Joking aside

Good use of an underlying theme  (finding yourself) to drive story

Somewhat distant ‘eye of god’ style made it hard to connect with character. Her ‘friends’ seemed unlikeable which made me wonder why she wanted to please or impress them.

7. Please Get Me Home

 Good energy in the story and strong scene setting. The stress between the characters is nicely handled.

The pivotal point (Donna leaving William to his fate) isn’t explored enough, and there’s no sense of the consequences of the events, which all takes away from the meaning.  The title doesn’t seem relevant.

S/L 8. Heartbeat

Great use of imagery and motif to carry the story of a mother’s love, of the relationship between her and her son. Good control of flashbacks, and characters are drawn well, including the chicken. 

Story has a couple of inconsistencies (opening accident should have had more consequences, I think) and the writing style and layout are uneven.

9. A Bird, A Boy, A Problem

Nice use of mythical style to craft a story about a boy finding a solution to his problem.

Weak control of written expression takes away from the flow of the story.

RDC. 10. Loves lost and found

Strong idea of finding your true passion; story is focused well on key characters and events.

Style is a bit flat and events are conveyed in almost a verbal style. More descriptive detail would have helped create a sense of the characters and setting. Format/layout detracts from the readability of the story.

11. Petit Est Beau

Nice theme of ‘never too late’, and finding a lost love and happiness

Not enough action, really. Everything has happened in the past, and Maureen is a passive participant in her own story. She doesn’t do anything to move the events along, is just a recipient of Mark’s actions.

12. Sneaky Feet

Good idea with a lot of potential. Strong dialogue, and some dramatic moments.

The story lacked a sense of meaning. The idea of getting the kiwi feather to impress the teacher was a start, but I wanted to know why that was important; exploring that underlying drive/motive would have given the story genuine power.

13. The Warrior Chief

Good energy in the writing, a clear sense of passion.

No real sense of a story within the scenes, just an observation / opinion.

S/L 14. Bitter Orange Marmalade

Strong story of friendship, of growing up, of appreciation. I very much liked the subtleties and nuances in the story.

In places the tone is a bit flat (the opening sentences, for example). Minor point: I wondered about the comment ‘no one knows the origins of the word orange’ as it is recorded that it comes from the Arabic naranj.

15. Taxing the Nightingales

Clever device for constructing a sense of a distant (in miles) of a relationship between grandfather and grandchild. The title is original and engaging.

No real sense of a story. More of an observation.

16. The Observer

The observations are fairly well detailed and convey a clear sense of events.

No sense of what the events mean to the observer. As the title suggests the observer is central to the story, then the relevance and impact of events, on that person, should have been explored.

17. The Dog Walkers

Good use of setting, strong description.

No sense of what the murder might mean to the narrating character or what impact the events had. The story had a couple of plot holes. Mrs L was a chatterbox at home, for example, but not on the walk. So why did Mr L snap on the walk, where there was less talking, than at home?

18.  A Body in the Skip

Generally well written, and contains genuine emotion for the old man and his situation.

Plot problems.  There’s no real reason for Rat Face to kill the old man.  All he did was report the body: he didn’t know anything else, and someone else would have reported it sometime.  The point of view switch at the end weakens the story.

19.  The Best of Sheds

The writing is generally strong, and there’s a good focus on the main characters.

Neither character is very likeable. The changes in point of view weaken the story.  I couldn’t help but feel Muriel was a bit careless in allowing herself to be observed by her husband.  The title was interesting, but didn’t seem entirely relevant.

20. Miss Janie, Children’s Librarian

Good exploration of Janie’s life, nice use of detail and imagery to convey a sense of her chosen life.

The ending is weakened by the sudden change in point of view. Not quite sure why the book acceptance was needed, to be honest. Was it meant to be poignant? Didn’t come across that way.

21. Blow, Suck, Stop!

Well-written memoir style story. I liked how it captured the emotion and energy of the event, the sense of community.

Weak title which, for some reason, I found unappealing.

I didn’t get why the children eating lemons would affect the pipers.

22. Either Either

Charming personal memoir style essay that conveys the importance of memories.

Not really a story: more of a personal essay.

23. The Joy of it All

Strong memoir style story that captures the emotions of a past event.

Lacked 5 senses descriptive detail that would have added to the scenes.

24. The Wine of Fury

Strong dialogue, clearly conveyed scene. Good characters, within the play.

Meaning of story unclear.

25. An Angel at my Elbow

Good setting of the scene and the dialogue and action conveys events in this memoir style story.

No real sense of structure or of what the event meant to the narrating character.

L/L 26. Brown Eyes

Well-written. The device of telling a human story from an animal’s perspective is handled well by the writer. Nice use of the moon as a motif.

Small point. The pig’s ear still behind the fridge, how many moons later? Another small point: the story title seems irrelevant.

S/L 27. On the Third Day

Good control of language to convey an insightful story that explores life, love, and meaning. Great imagery, believable and sympathetic characters. I liked the echo of religious references in the title, and the way it signalled elements of the story without giving anything away. One of the few titles that were meaningful to its story.

Minor point: the phrase ‘charming oriental smile’ struck an odd note. What’s an oriental smile?

L/L 28. Shells

Well written story that explores the impact of childhood trauma. Lovely lyrical writing, clearly drawn and sympathetic characters.

The ending is somewhat formulaic – these kinds of ‘public confessions’ appear in many film and television shows – but I am not convinced it was the best device for this story.

29. Last Call

In general, well-written.

Too much of the story is told as flashback, so there’s little sense of Mark and his current situation (only of what led to it), and there is so much happening that his death is almost unnoticed in all the other events.  Mark and his girlfriend aren’t overly likeable people, so it is harder to engage with them as characters.

30. The Sea’s Hidden Surprise…on the Beach

Original perspective. Nice to see touches of humour and surrealism.

The lecturing tone here and there lets the story down.  The odd use of bold and the weak line layout spoil the flow.

31. Sunday

Well written in lots of ways and builds a sense of family tragedy and its aftermath.

Tries to cover too much time and too many events in a short story, meaning events are skimmed over. Some confusion about who the ‘he’ in the opening and closing paragraphs.

32. The Tale of Billy Bradley

Potentially interesting and multi-layered characters dealing with complex events.

There is too much going on for a short story, and no sense of what Billy’s problems have to do with the narrator. The story would be stronger if the narrator was dropped, and the story told from Billy’s viewpoint.

33. Jack Trembath

Poignant overview of a young man losing his way. Has genuine emotion.

Reads more as a biographic/personal overview of Jack than a short story.

34.  The Bath

Good focus on a single scene to convey story and meaning, well-written, well-controlled overall.

The narrator is passive in her own story, and the story had a couple of plot holes, e.g. how did Fin know she was in the bath drowning herself?  Is it possible for an adult to commit suicide by drowning in a bath?

S/L 35. Old Love

Moving exploration of relationships. Well-written and contains genuine emotion.

Not a great deal of interaction with characters or dialogue. More of a rumination of events, but pulled together in a way that is meaningful and makes the characters memorable and sympathetic.

36. The Internet

Humorous and satirical comment on the world today.

The message seemed to overwhelm the story.

37. It was in the Book

Entertaining yarn.

A lot of characters for a short story, which would have been stronger if the story had focused more on the relationship between Cyril and Roger.

38. Milking the Dump

Good energy in the story, dialogue was strong, interesting events.

The ending tailed off somewhat, and various elements felt unfinished, e.g. because the comparison of the fridges was detailed in the opening, I thought it would somehow be relevant later in the story.

39. Jack

Clear revelation of the character and of the way he deals with his loss.

No clear distinction of dialogue between characters made the text hard to follow at times; I would have liked to have seen some descriptive narrative to create a stronger sense of person and place.

RDC. 40. ‘The Necessity’

An interesting overview of the preparation of an environment for the release of kiwi. The enthusiasm of the workers was captured well.

Had a ‘general overview’ feel.  Telling the story from the perspective of a single character and including detail about what the kiwi release meant to that character would strengthen the story.


The story builds well and conveys a clear sense of the girls’ empty lives and the way they depend on each other, and it also suggests the contempt that Meg feels for Nelly.

The shift in point of view from Meg’s to Nelly’s weakens the building impetus. There is a sense of underlying cruelty in Meg (which is fine) but I do think it needed to be used a little more.

42. A Lombard Girl

The story effectively captures a sense of a sad old man, which I really liked, and of a woman, once feted, living a less glamorous life that turned her bitter.

Too much going on for a short story, so no real sense of what it all meant.  I wanted to know why Grandmother abandoned her glamorous life for the life of a poor farmer’s wife, if he knew what it meant to be a Lombard Girl, why she turned on her daughter, her death, and what it meant to anyone involved.

43. Silence

Fairly good conveyance of the sense of being trapped, and the end is downright chilling.

Needed an exploration of the deeper layers, of what it all meant to the character.

Author name on manuscript.

44. The Fruit on the Fence

Intriguing opening that captured my attention, and the story developed well to begin.

Felt the story lost its way, and some of the story didn’t have a clear logic, e.g. Colleen is using a walker, suggesting she is frail, and that a day in the kitchen cooking would be a lot for her to cope with. When the fruit seemed like a gift to an elderly lady, it seemed a nice thing to do. The addition of the note, though, gave the actions a darker and more manipulative feel.  Simon came across as selfish, expecting a frail old lady to bake three apple slices for him.  The change in point of view was awkward, and I didn’t get why Margaret didn’t tell Simon that Colleen was dead.

S/L 45. Somnavata

Original and intriguing. Gorgeously-written stream-of-conscious style writing to convey meaning through a dream exploration, anchored by touches of reality. Dream settings well described and used.

Underlying meaning so subtle it is almost lost in the cleverness of the language. No sense of character or plot.

S/L 46. Immanence

Clever, beautifully written, full use of language; dream images used to create understanding of character’s life connections/development.

Realistically, no sense of characters or plot (but there is a strong sense of relevance and meaning that impels the events).

47. The Birthday

Some original touches with the characters, and an interesting scenario.

The scenario needed its underlying meanings to be developed as there is no clear suggestion as to what the events were meant to indicate. Weak sentence construction and missing punctuation spoils the flow.

48. Daffodils

Good idea, well-written overall, and with some very nice touches. Complex and interesting characters.

Some elements didn’t seem relevant (e.g. the ex-husband) and too much of the story was told in flashback, which meant the ending was a bit abrupt.

L/L 49. Postcards

Well-controlled and well-written story that reveals human relationships and their costs. Meaningful ending that has genuine emotion.

Story told mostly as remembered events rather than current events unfolding.

50. Buying Eggs

Original take on a familiar theme ((dealing with old age). Good characterisation.

There were times where the story felt a bit jagged and disconnected, where smoother transitions could have been used. The second sentence, for example, didn’t clearly connect to the first one.

51. The proposition

Potentially, very good. Original story, nice thread of lurking humour, good sense of place and characters.

The story focus could have been sharper (too much explanation to begin) and more use of 5 senses description would have strengthened the story overall.

RDC. 52. A Dream

Good potential as an exploration of the consequences of financial failure late in life.

Contained a lot of back story about the build-up to success and the failure. Would have been stronger if it focused on current consequences and what that meant to Stephen and Sarah now, and if a more descriptive active style was used.  The poem to open didn’t add a great deal to the story itself.

RDC. 53. A ride on a sunny day

Entertaining memoir-style story that conveys a clear sense of enjoyment and appreciation

Reads more like a spoken memory than a written account. A little more description and 5 senses detail would help create scenes for the reader.

RDC. 54. Task…

Amusing yarn-style story

Lacked clear structure and didn’t resolve the issues it raised, e.g. the lies the girls told, what would happen when they were found, what it meant to their growth toward adult-hood. No title.

RDC. 55. The Garden Shed

Good use of a wryly humorous voice to convey story events and character info.

Story elements could have been developed to explore what the events meant to the character.

56. If I was a member of the opposite sex

Story captures a sense of the persecution transvestites feel and their despair as they wonder if anything will change.

Rather prosaic style. The use of description would help create a stronger scene and sense of locations, which would engage readers further.

57. The High Jump

It’s difficult to identify with mice that defecate and wee on a bench and try to commit suicide. Author name on story.

L/L 58. The Tree

Quietly impactful story of acceptance and growing understanding. The ending was moving. The loss of the tree was a good motif for the more important loss the character felt.

Slightly muddled writing in places interrupted the story flow.

59. Moira

Well-written account of a disturbed and exhausted woman coming to the end of her tether. Loved the detail of washing the cup, and the ease of language use. Dramatic and disturbing conclusion.

Some plot points needed to be explored further. Why did Moira allow her unpleasant, ungrateful and brutal brother to move in with her? Why did she feel her only way out was to chop off her arm?  Couldn’t she have just booted him into a hospital?

60. The Race

Fairly well-written story of coping with a significant loss. Nice use of the race as a motif throughout.

Slightly muddled in places so it wasn’t clear what were past events, and what was current. The opening line wasn’t needed, and the use of the train as transport seemed a bit odd.

61. Tale of a Coat

Well-written, good characters; story, with its shades of Cinderella, builds well. The writing device of shifting from one character to the next works.

Ending is perhaps overly subtle. It suggests Charis has been found by her ‘princess charming’, perhaps as organised by the grandmother? A bit unclear, and a bit understated.

62. Men Who Do Yoga

Thoughtful exploration of connections between people, of friendship. Good focus within the scenario of the yoga room. Ending understated but moving.

The style is a little flat in places and I was unclear as to what the relationship between the three men became. Something, or nothing?

63. Ledbetter’s Lab

Attempts to explore meaningful themes with a touch of humour.

Voice/style seemed a bit forced.  Title weak.

64. One Would Be Enough

Nice story device of telling event from three perspectives

Story seemed to lack focus. Vincent doesn’t get what he wants, and the reader doesn’t really know what that means to him.

RDC. 65. Dark Pride

Good focus on a single event; setting vividly evoked

Too much description of character’s clothing and a flat, somewhat explanatory tone. Story lacked sense of overall purpose – read like an excerpt from something longer.

RDC. 66. Endangered: The Beginning

The scene has a sense of energy and drama.

Reads as the start of something longer. Style is a bit ‘telling’ instead of showing events unfolding.  Jenny is a passive character.

67. A Stamp for Anna

A fairly entertaining yarn built on a single joke, but elements of family dynamics woven throughout the child’s perspective.

Child’s voice uneven.  Some language, understanding and insights didn’t suit a boy of four – which matters, because the story was all about the boy’s understanding.

L/L 68. Limpet

Insightful story of inherited traits and the choices we can make. Nice use of the limpet as a motif.

Needed a little more development in regard to characters and settings to create a stronger context.

69. End Game

Explores a moment when a beaten woman decides ‘enough’ and takes action.

Somewhat familiar scenario.  Odd use of ‘youngest’ and ‘oldest’ for the children creates a distance between the reader and the events. Writing could be stronger.

RDC. 70. A Korero

Generally well-written. Liked the dynamics of the story and the way it built.

There was no real reason for Mitch to explain himself, and perhaps a bit too much of the introduction in the conversation.

71. The Sweet Spot

Intriguing opening, and a genuine sense of loss, and of despair. I liked the motif of following him on the bike, and the way it foretold her final choice to follow on the final journey.

Given he wasn’t dead, I wasn’t sure what the ending was supposed to indicate. That she’d become a vegetable like him? How could she be sure of that? His swearing at the end seemed a touch of ugliness in what was, otherwise, a love story.

72. The Pyres of Varanasi

Moving description of someone’s beliefs and rituals around the death of a loved family member.

Read more as a description/explanation than a story.

73. The MRI

Captures Hopiki’s fear and claustrophobia well.

More a yarn, a description of an event than a story.

74. The Meeting

Contained some dry humour, and captured a sense of how some committee meetings can go.

/ Not really a story. The old joke was a thin device on which to build the scene, and the ending felt just a little forced.

S/L 75. Skegness

Well-written and insightful exploration of the end of a relationship. Good use of imagery.

Perhaps a little rushed.

76. I want to go home

Good story that captures something of the loss of independence that can happen in old age, and a strong ending in which the narrator decides to make the best choice she can. Liked the sense of determination to enjoy life.

Narrative a bit slim. Could have done with more description, an expansion of the events.

77. The Notable Knitter’s Circle

Good attempt at humour.  Liked the insight into how some community groups work.

No real sense of a story, and some inconsistencies.

RDC. 78. The Adventures of Spaceman Tom

Nice idea, and I liked the way the science in the story was there, but unobtrusive.

The language didn’t suit the intended reading age, who would need more description to create a sense of the scene. In general, children like to read about other children, not adults.  Name on manuscript.

RDC. 79. Moving On

An original way to explore the character growing through a breakup.

Perhaps a little disconnected and uneven in places. 

L/L RDC. 80. Heart

Genuinely moving conclusion. Strong concluding image.

I don’t think the ‘ABC’ device added anything to the story.  It would be stronger if it were rewritten without the device, with a little more description and narration, and allowed to flow/expand to its full potential.  

RDC. 81. Oh My God

Humorous, romped along at a good pace; quirky touch with ‘god as a committee’.

Lacked a sense of underlying meaning. Read more as an anecdote or yarn.

82. Untethered

Intriguing and an original idea

Would have been stronger with clearer description to create the scene for the reader, and with more exploration of underlying meaning.

RDC.  83. Grandpa Scratch

Humorous yarn.

The poetic form takes this away from being a story. Name on manuscript.

84. In This Place

Conveys a clear sense of suffering.

Not really a story. Very bleak, almost accusatory in tone.

85. Fat Camp

Original. Good focus in story and between characters. The character of the instructor, in particular, is strong.

Slightly awkward construction. The opening paragraph doesn’t seem necessary as it gives away the ending. 

86. One Golden Ring

Nice idea – liked the scenario.

Story was a little incoherent in places, and there was no sense of what the events meant to the man who found the ring. Entry form with story

87. Gone Fishing

The relationship between the two men is sweetly related.  Generally well written.

There is a long span of years that is not explored in any way, leading to questions – how the narrator feels, what his friendship with the priest really means.  Would have liked more focus on that relationship.

88. Personal Column

Lots of strengths. Original take on the ‘missed’ romance scenario  and generally well-written and sympathetic characters.

Slightly over-written in places and no clear sense of place or when events unfolded.

89. The Dream

Good story, and some vivid description; the implied underlying meaning is strong and interesting.

Curious rhyming construction takes away from the story itself. 

90. The Blue Jumper

Interesting take on the ‘love lost’ scenario.

Over-explanatory in style. Ending a bit weak – I had assumed Charlie to be a man when his name was mentioned.  Why not use an African name?

91. Mayday

Original idea. Genuinely humorous.

More a shaggy-dog story than a piece of fiction; lot of dialogue without real context.

92. The Man Behind the Glass

Somewhat surreal with some interesting descriptive touches, but also a little incoherent. I really wasn’t sure what the ending meant at all.

93. Beep

Child’s voice nicely controlled. The use of the counting was a good device, and the ending, and the understanding that Joe felt responsible, was well done.

Slightly repetitive.

L/L 94. Every Day Previous

Almost very, very good. Clever story of daily routine, the loss of dreams.

Let down by peculiar layout and overuse of ellipses, which became visually annoying, very quickly.

S/L 95. Detached

The best story of aging and memory loss I’ve read in a long time. Great imagery, great use of repetition. Genuinely moving.

Overuse of clumsy speech tags like ‘declares, divulges’ etc. A simply ‘says’ would work much better.

96. The River

Clever personification of the river.  Good use of setting, and the ending was effectively chilling.

Somewhat over-written, almost melodramatic in places. Small point: Incorrect use of capitalisation became irritating. 

RDC. 97. Sub-Tropical

Lovely story, well-written. Good comparison of ‘there and here’ to convey a family’s life .

Well over allowed word limit. Name on back of pages. 

RDC. 98. THE SOLDIER, Another Battle

Generally well written, and conveys the old man’s anger and despair.

Lacked a clear sense of meaning, and the ending tailed seemed a bit abrupt.

RDC. 99.  The Husband who Goes Off

+ Creates a fairly strong scene of three people chatting around a BBQ; explored some of the dynamics of friendship.

/ Writing uneven and contained a number of errors that spoiled the flow. Doris and Arthur came across as unlikeable people, especially at the end when they simply laughed at a friend who had fallen and hurt herself. Ultimately, it was unclear if ‘a husband who goes off’ had mental problems, or not.

L/L 100. Stars Watch

Cleverly written reflection of a life. Ending quite lovely.

A bit unclear in places.  I wasn’t entirely sure how the opening paragraphs connected to the rest of the story.