Best short sto­ries for 2017


It is with great plea­sure that the team be­hind the Mir­ror Lakes and Cen­tral Otago Short Story com­pe­ti­tion an­nounce the win­ners in the in­au­gu­ral com­pe­ti­tion.

We were stunned and a lit­tle over­whelmed by the large num­ber of en­tries (near 200) and ex­cep­tional qual­ity. It has been a de­light to read your work and we hope to see more of it in the fu­ture.

We owe a spe­cial thank you to our spon­sors, New World, Pa­per Plus and Grey Ridge Wines for sup­ply­ing the gen­er­ous prizes and sup­port­ing us in de­vel­op­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of cre­ative tal­ent in this re­gion.

Found­ing spon­sor of the com­pe­ti­tion Michael Laws, of The Mes­sage, praised the tal­ent un­earthed by this in­au­gu­ral com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘It was my hope that I could pro­vide an out­let for, and a recog­ni­tion of, the writ­ing tal­ent in our re­gion. I’ve been blown away by the po­ten­tial that this com­pe­ti­tion has un­earthed.’’

The ju­nior writ­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, were out­stand­ing and he in­tended de­vel­op­ing an un­der13 sec­tion next year and com­pil­ing an an­thol­ogy for pub­li­ca­tion.

In prepa­ra­tion for next year, chief judge in the adult com­pe­ti­tion Diane Brown of­fered some tips for as­pir­ing short story writ­ers.

She was look­ing for a story, that was ut­terly com­plete in it­self, and wanted lan­guage that flowed and car­ried the reader through the story.

‘‘Some en­tries, though well writ­ten, seemed more akin to rem­i­nis­cence and mem­oir and lacked a sense of story and thus were left aside.

‘‘As the won­der­ful short story writer Lorrie Moore says, ‘A short story is a love af­fair, a novel is a mar­riage. A short story is a pho­to­graph; a novel is a film.’ ‘‘

Chief ju­nior com­pe­ti­tion judge Jane Bloom­field was keen to see young writ­ers tackle un­ex­pected sub­jects with a fresh ap­proach and a pos­i­tive out­come.

‘‘Leave me, the reader, still think­ing at the end.

‘‘Make me laugh, and never write ‘and then I woke up!’ If it was me en­ter­ing I’d avoid really really sad topics. Not that they shouldn’t be writ­ten about, but be­cause they are overused in com­pe­ti­tions.’’

She found some of the more el­e­gantly writ­ten, darker themed pieces by older teens lacked story, whereas younger en­tries from 11 -13 year olds had more orig­i­nal plot ideas and in­jected some hu­mour.

Start­ing next week the Mir­ror will share the win­ning sto­ries over the sum­mer months with Mir­ror read­ers and on our dig­i­tal plat­forms and Neigh­bourly.

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