Results of the 2018 Competition
First: ‘My Baby’ by Jan Pryor (Wellington)
Second: ‘Bodies Falling Through Water’ by Helen McNeil (Auckland)
Third: ‘Skies Are Grey’ by Jen Gobes (Nelson)
‘Unravelling’ by Zana Bell (Whangarei)
‘Smile’ by Gayle Cook (Christchurch)
‘Them Bones’ by Hannah Davison (Culverden)
‘Forty Bars of Soap’ by Marion Day (Picton)
‘Conversations With My Father’ by Sue England (Upper Moutere)
‘Dinner With Einstein’ by Lucy Hodgson (Motueka)
‘Close to You’ by Feby Idrus (Dunedin)
The judge, Catherine Chidgey, provided this report:
It’s wonderful to see that the short story as a form is in such good health. The shortlisted entries were of a high standard; they displayed skill and innovation, making me laugh and stabbing me in the heart. By far the majority were told in the first person – I’m not sure what meaning to draw from that, but it was interesting how overwhelmingly popular a choice that mode of narrative was.
Sometimes there were discrepancies in tone, and I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to maintain a narrator’s voice consistently – to step right inside that person’s skin. This will also allow the author to bring a strong sensory presence to the page – something I felt was sometimes lacking, along with a clear concrete specificity around setting. Newer writers (and older ones) need to watch for tense slippages, for accidental repetitions of words, and for lines that can be cut – particularly at the very start or very end of a piece. The most successful stories took some kind of risk, whether in terms of language, subject matter or form.
I enjoyed reading and commenting on every one of the shortlisted stories, and applaud Page & Blackmore for their support of the competition, as well as the Top of the South branch of the NZSA for their excellent organisation. Long may it continue!