Competitions · Writing resources

April 24: NaNoWriMo 5K in 1 week challenge

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NaNoWriMo is most famous for giving writers a reason to write a novel in one month every November. But wait! There’s more…

This community also provides great writing resources, a interactive writing community and organises writing camps all through the magical world of the interwebs. If you aren’t a member already…join now! No really…right now… click here.

Their next April camp competition (The #5K1Week Challenge!) starts tomorrow!

The challenge is to write 5000 in one week. Challenge accepted?

 

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Competitions

100 word sad story competition results

 

I am happy to announce the winners of our first competition!

Our writers were asked to create a story that would make you cry in only 100 words. Seven stories were submitted anonymously to ten judges. The judges were asked to give feedback for each story and choose their top three.

The story in first place was given 3 points, in second place 2 points and in third place 1 point. The points were then added up and the winning story is the one with the most points.

When the stories were given to the judges they were labeled as “Story 1, Story 2 etc.” Below you will find the seven stories, as originally labeled but with the writers names included:

Story 1 – Untitled: Written by Michal Haba 
While he was walking in darkness, his mind wandered through all that happened in his life. It was always
the same, always like this.
No difference. Loneliness surrounded him. There was nothing. There was no one. Ever. Not knowing how
being ‘with’ felt he didn’t miss it not searched for it. He wouldn’t be able to define it. All he was well aware
was ‘without’.
Empty life. Empty journey. Empty existence. Just walking through the path of life. Not really living, just
waiting for the finish. No one would see the difference, he won’t see the difference.
Eternal darkness came…
_________________________________________________________________
Story 2 – Untitled: Written by Maria Karamanoglou
Loneliness.
Desolation.
The air is sharp and dry.
Suffocating. Your absence takes away my air and leaves me breathless and aching.
I want to close my eyes and imagine you lying down next to me, but it will not be like that. You are not here,
you will never be here again, and it makes me bleed inside. Will there ever be a goodbye my love?
So I’m standing here, a little prince betrayed by his flower and the fox at the same time, without a planet,
without migrating birds, with no place to go and no will to depart.
_________________________________________________________________
Story 3 – Untitled: Written by Essi Kemppainen
It hurts to think would it have worked if I had given more of myself to you, if I hadn’t been holding back my
love and asked for guarantees. If I hadn’t been watching you constantly for your mistakes and made
descriptions of you by your actions. If I hadn’t been so cold and distant and if I hadn’t tried so hard not to
love you when it was the only thing I wanted to do. If I hadn’t pushed you away to tear myself apart. I wish I
could once more look into your eyes and see that you are fine and my longing is alone and that is why it
should move on. I wish I could once more ask how are you, to show that I still care, without you being able
to say a word back, because hearing your voice would effect me like wind, blowing all the pieces of myself
away, the pieces that I just managed to get together.
_________________________________________________________________
Story 4 – Untitled: Written by Jakub Dohnal
Finally, sun! Perfect day for my favourite breakfast and morning exercise. No mud and rain all over me this
time! Mom decided to run along with me today, haha look how hard she struggles to keep up. Why would
she even try to…hmm I guess that smoked salmon wasn’t the best idea, my stomach feels funny again. But
no worries, we get those pills to make me feel better. I guess we’re picking them up now, right?
Mommy, where are you going?
This needle in my fur hurts…mommy? I need a cuddle…
_________________________________________________________________
Story 5 – The Denial of Death: Written by Carlos Alderete
Waves of shuddering black cascaded down the permanence of her youth and she cradled her anguish as I
unraveled us into separation. Goodbye. Tears swelled the ocean of her rolling grief and I drifted with my
affections as rising sails, away, away, until she was drowned.
I don’t miss her. Not anymore. I’m here, however, perceiving the sudden suspension of her dynamo. All that had fashioned her composition, rendered absurd. She is without meaning. She always was. I am the same. You are too. I see it now, through trembling fingers and oceans made terrible by the absence of denial.
_________________________________________________________________
Story 6 – Untitled: Written by Debbie Liebenberg
A hope.
A dream.
A wish.
A seed.
A baby.
A daughter.
A blessing.
A celebration.
A gifted child.
A joy.
A sister.
A prodigy.
A pupil.
A hard-worker.
A winner.
A model.
A student.
A scholar.
A humanitarian.
A doctor.
A saviour.
A woman.
A fiancé.
A bride.
A wife.
A civilian.
A victim.
A runaway.
A fighter.
A passenger.
A swimmer.
A refugee.
An immigrant.
A number.
A foreigner.
A colour.
A parasite.
A problem.
A muslim.
A target.
A victim.
A widow.
A casualty.
A bitch.
A whore.
A waste.
Alone.
A terrorist. A freedom fighter.
_________________________________________________________________
Story 7 The End: Written by Damien Smethurst
The walk down the final corridor is the longest of my life, despite being only thirty yards. I stand at the door and take a few deep breaths, mentally preparing myself for what’s waiting on the other side. I feel a hand on my arm and look at my tearful wife, and pull her into a brief hug. We walk into the room together, holding hands, neither of us ready for this moment, but there’s no choice. I take a final breath, and then I speak…
“It is with great sadness that I concede the Presidential race to Donald Trump”

_________________________________________________________________

Thanks to all the writers who entered the competition. I hope you had fun with your stories. The full feedback from the judges will be sent to each of you by email as this blog post is long enough already. If you would like to chat to one of your judges, feel free to use the comment section in this blog post to do so.

Before I reveal the results I’d like to introduce you to our judges:

From left to right, top to bottom we have Annriette, Hannah, Hayley, Jennifer, Juanel, Lilian, Martha, Pete, Teresa and Laura.

In the following paragraphs I’ll tell you a little more about each judge, show you the stories they chose as their top three and share some of their feedback.

Annriette

Annriette is a tough cookie from down in the African lands of baobab trees and beautiful sunsets. She actually spent two hours with her colleagues stuck between a cliff and a herd of elephants. Annriette was also a hipster before it was mainstream. Yeah she knits, she knew the Kings of Leon before you knew sex could be on fire and yeah she has a Boston terrier named Winston. Can you handle? All of this awesomness aside, I asked Anna to be one of our judges because of her ability to quote quirky lines from books, movies and songs in her sleep. While she is a GIS Technician & CAD draftsman by day, Anna reads at least two books a week and is tapped into all that is amazeballs right now.

Some feedback:

Story 7

This story is very well written, it has all the elements of the first part of a hero’s journey, with the unexpected twist of a drama or horror story in the end. Although I don’t think everyone would agree that this is necessarily a sad story (Trump supporters will call it a story about victory) I really enjoyed it.

Top three:

  1. Story 6
  2. Story 7
  3. Story 4

Hannah

I once asked Hannah what she would like to every day for the rest of her life and she said “Write!” While she likes to keep a great blog going, she has also written several stories and I’m proud to announce that her first officially published book, The Danger in Bohemia,’ has recently been released. Hannah was born in New Jersey but she currently lives in London where she is going to grad school for her MSc in Library Science. Other than her passion for books, she is also passionate about politics although she admits that this year has given her quite a stomach ache in this regard. As a writer of stories and a lover of stories, Hannah makes the perfect judge for our stories.

Some feedback:

Story 6

I wasn’t sure what to think of this story. However I was quickly pulled in by the simple, clear narrative you evoked using only these words. It is difficult to do a ‘story’ like this without sounding cliché. You managed it well. Took the end to a darker turn than I was expecting (and made me think. I had anticipated the woman would die. And yet your ‘birth of a terrorist’ was of course inevitable). Excellent work.

Top three:

  1. Story 6
  2. Story 4
  3. Story 7

Hayley

While Hayley dreams of running a shelter for rescued cats she isn’t your typical cat lady. Firstly, she is a gorgeous young blonde bombshell as opposed to a floral musky madam, secondly, she is actually quite social (with people) and thirdly, having a cat named Chairman Miaow doesn’t exactly equate its owner with a meek and timid shell of a person that the term ‘cat lady’ could suggest. This wine-tasting, puzzle building, story writing, mountain climbing cat lady solves crimes and saves lives through words on a daily basis. Some call it a job but it Hayley’s case, it is a calling to make the world a better place. I asked Hayley to be a judge because of her vast experience and love of stories. While some kids used thick books to build forts, others actually read them. Hayley fell into the latter category.

Some feedback:

Story 2

This story has a good sense of atmosphere created by both the structure and the language – well done. The use of the Little Prince reference is lovely and draws on the emotions. Betrayal works well with the theme and the imagery conveys this nicely, i.e. ‘the air is sharp and dry’ and ‘makes me bleed inside’. At times this feels more like a diary entry than a story. It sounds old-fashioned, but ideally a story should have a beginning, middle and end – even a 100-word story. You want to take the reader on the character’s journey. I would suggest trying to work this into more of a narrative.

Top three:

  1. Story 4
  2. Story 6
  3. Story 2

Jennifer 

Jennifer likes wood. While it might be easy to make a wood joke here (its also hard..haha..ok I’ll stop) I am being dead serious. Jennifer is passionate about timber which is quite odd given that her educational background is in English and Gender Studies. She started her own company, Häss&DAS Brand Factory, which offers custom PR & marketing services to the timber industry. When Jennifer is not spreading the word about the joys and value of timber she enjoys running, gardening, cooking, writing and reading. Jennifer wrote and published a children’s book to support rescued Dachshunds in 2014 and several of her poems have been published in local poetry books. I asked Jennifer to be one of our judges because I knew her experience and can-do-go-getting-attitude wood (hehe) provide valuable feedback for our writers.

Some feedback:

Story 3

You have taken a universal story – one that everyone can identify with (of lost love and regret) – and made it your own. Your use of a single paragraph may suggest that these are internal thoughts or free association, making it all the more personal. Your story ends at great place for poignant effect – we don’t know if he/she will be in contact with the lover, but we do know that he/she is recovering, which emphasises movement or sense of progression in your story – it implies that the story may not end here and gives your reader something to think about beyond the words of your story.

Well done!

Top three:

  1. Story 6
  2. Story 5
  3. Story 3

Juanel

Juanel grew up on a farm among Africa’s wildest animals, then she moved to a city to study English literature and philosophy, then she studied graphic design, then she became a photographer/art director and worked with her partner all over the world (on things you have probably seen, check out their work here) and now she is a jewelry/sculpture student in Australia. I shit you not. I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. It’s clear to see that this crazy kitty is has a great thirst for knowledge and creative expression hence I thought she would be the perfect judge for a creative writing competition. When Juanel isn’t busy trying to make the world more beautiful through art, she likes to challenge gender and racial stereotypes as an activist or simply get lost in a book.

Some feedback:

Story 5:

Beautiful use of descriptive language and metaphors. The metaphors feel a little dense at times, making it a little hard to follow the narrative, and dilutes the effect of the creative writing. Perhaps a solution would be to add some direct feelings, not abstract, in between.

Top three:

  1. Story 6
  2. Story 2
  3. Story 5

Lilian

Lilian is a bundle of joy, a bunch of fun and a can of whoop-ass all rolled into one (to say the least). While she is a Copywriter and Social Media Manager during working hours she is also an Ordained Dudeist Priest and a kick-ass champion roller derby player that goes by the name of ‘Leboutski.’ Lilian’s passions vary from day to day but right now she is obsessed with constructions of gender, a preoccupation with smashing the patriarchy, the entire discography of Bruce Springsteen and golden retrievers. She reads about a book a week and dabbles in her own writing from time to time but she feels that her word skills could best be put to use as a WWE commentator. Lilian isn’t afraid to tell it like it is which makes her a great judge in our competition.

Some feedback:

Story 4

This straight-up destroyed me. I had to go have a cigarette, and a little cry, and go and hug my teddy bear for a while (yes, I’m 30…don’t judge me). Heart-breaking. Love the tone; the switch between optimism and excitement, and the slow realisation as a reader of what’s happening – I love that it’s not fully clear until that last gut-wrenching sentence. Very well crafted. But I never want to read it again because I’ll cry for days.

Top three:

  1. Story 4
  2. Story 7
  3. Story 2

Martha

By day, Martha is a respectable TEFL Director, showing native English speakers what is right and wrong about their language and how to teach it. But by night… Mystical Martha transforms into a bass playing magic musician (she totes has a band, check it out here), or a MarioKart Wii mega star (no seriously, she has won trophies) or an Evil-Knievel-like-knitter…you won’t believe the stunts she can pull with two sticks and a ball of yarn…she’ll knit the socks off you! I asked Martha to judge our stories because she is just as passionate about language as she is about knitted cup cuddlers and baby booties.

Some feedback:

Story 1

This is a tragic tale.  We feel sorry for the protagonist even if he doesn’t have the awareness to feel sorry for himself.  That is the tragedy; he lives his life, doesn’t make much of it, doesn’t come to any enlightenment, and then he’s just engulfed by darkness.  However, the ellipsis at the end may offer hope to this tragic story.  Perhaps it’s not the end.  I think a strength of the story is the feeling of loneliness the author achieves.

Top three:

  1. Story 4
  2. Story 2
  3. Story 6

Pete

The fact that Pete has been referred to as a 100-year-old vampire is not without reason. This ‘man’ has lived so many lifetimes that his wisdom, skill set and age just don’t seem to makes sense to us muggles. In between fishing, writing, working with leather, hiking and making knives (yes, I said making), Pete was once a Publisher, is now a Newsroom Coordinator and he managed to win his current wife’s affection through citing and discussing Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I asked Pete to be one of our judges because, not only is he more than qualified to do so but, I know he will cut the crap and deliver those honest, hard blows that we all need from time to time.

Some feedback:

Story 3

The most emotive piece for me so far. The first person POV makes you see things from their eyes – it’s like reading a letter. Perhaps a single concrete example of how he fucked things up would have made this a little more real. It still deals with abstractions – he’s naming the emotions, not showing them. I really liked “blowing all the pieces of myself away, the pieces that I just managed to get together”. Trent Reznor might have written something like that in his early days.

Top three:

  1. Story 6
  2. Story 3
  3. Story 2

Teresa

Teresa is proof that dynamite comes in small packages. While she is sweet and petite her energy explodes into extraordinary manifestations. From making cards to knitting clothes, creating gifts or stories that are told…Teresa is booming with creativity. Teresa wrote her first story when she was seven about a boy who built a tree house in his backyard. Her dad “published” it by typing and printing it for her at work. Teresa has known from a young age what its like to pour your heart and soul onto an empty page and she still creates and appreciates literature of all sorts (as well as other things.) She is currently helping other people realise the beauty of words as an English teacher in South Korea.

Some feedback:

Story 1

Nice contrast here. From a few short sentences to a longer one. Following the comparison of ‘with’, ‘without’ becomes more weighty and the reader feels the significance of the description.

Top three:

1) Story 2
2) Story 6
3) Story 3

Laura

Laura’s language skills have taken her all over the world. She has taught in South Africa, South Korea, China and she is currently a teacher at an International school in Mauritius- and these are just the places that her career took her to! This traveller has gone skiing in Canada, been part of a UN debate in the United States and been served live octopus (a delicacy which she couldn’t turn down politely) in South Korea. She has seen, she has experienced and she has some interesting and unbelievable stories of her own. Her passion for words and new experiences made her the perfect choice for one of our judges.

Some feedback:

Story 1

Not a very original choice of topic but excellent writing makes up for this. Good characterisation and good use of varied sentence structure which contributes well to
the story. Overall, good language skills but some slight errors with tense variation.

Top three:

  1. Story 1
  2. Story 6
  3. Story 4

*cue drumroll* And the final scores are…

…WAIT! Not so fast. Story 3 and Story 6 were disqualified (for reasons I will explain later). While they did receive points and feedback from our judges they will not be included in the final rankings for the following reasons:

Story 3 had too many words. This story was 165 words long and the brief specifically stated the story should be 100 words. 100 words is a difficult amount to work with, this was the challenge of the competition and all other contestants managed to keep within this range.

Story 6 was withdrawn because, as the organiser of this competition and the writer of this story my main goal was to write and get feedback, not to win the prize I organised.

So finally, without further ado, here are final scores:

results

 

 

The winner of the 100 word sad story is… *cue drumroll*…Jakub Dohnal!!! *and the crowd goes wild*

Jakub thank you for breaking our hearts and making us appreciate our pets more than ever before. Jakub will win a set of three Moleskine notebooks to capture his story ideas.

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Every one of you will receive a small prize just because you entered this competition. Hope to see you all in a Scribbles and Giggles writing session soon!