Writing HOME – Short Story Winners

Lothian Life is delighted to announce the results of HOME, our first-ever short story competition, held in conjunction with Edinburgh Online Writing School www.writingclasses.co.uk and with the generous support of guest judges, Marianne Wheelaghan and Kendra Olson.

Drum-roll, please, for the three winners!

First Place –  Bridge by Sylvia Telfer

Runner-Up – A Trip of Dotterel by Natalie Reid

Runner-Up – Living Each Day by Catriona Patience

Sylvia wins a place on a writingclasses course of her choice, and Natalie and Catriona win in-depth critiques of their stories from bestselling author and writingclasses owner, Marianne.

Congratulations to each of the winners, and thank you to everyone who took part. (The long-list and short-list are printed below in full).  Here, Kendra and Marianne comment on the competition:

Kendra, on short-listing:

KendraOlson_photo resized‘The standard of entries was incredibly high, making the selection process difficult. Eighty-seven stories were submitted, all of which interpreted the theme of home in a unique way. Some explored what it means to be displaced from the only home one has ever known through natural disaster, as a result of war, or the break-up of family. Others were about the nuances of meaning inherent in home. For example, the importance of forging a new home with a loved one or alone, of searching for a place of belonging, or of leaving home for the first time.

After much deliberation, Anne and I decided a long-list of twenty stories made up of our joint favourites. We then tried to narrow it down to our favourite ten. However, as there were so many fantastic stories on the list, we ended up with a favourite eleven! But we needed to narrow it down further. After much debate, consideration and re-reading, we shortlisted six stories. These six stories, which stood out for their originality, story structure and use of language, were then passed to Marianne for final judging –’

Marianne, on the winners:

Marianne photo‘As all good writers know, getting the words exactly right in fiction is no accident. Very few sentences come out perfect the first time, or even the third or fourth or fifth or sixth. So, when I sat down to judge the short-list I looked for the writers who had worked the hardest to find exactly the right words to tell their stories. It wasn’t easy. The entries were so very good; none of the writers had made lazy choices and every time I read the stories afresh I changed my mind as to the probable winners! Finally, after half a dozen readings, I realised that three stories stayed with me longer than the others. These stories seemed to have more energy and spoke to me more personally. I had found my winners.

I love Bridge because of the precise way the story unfolds and how so much of it is left unsaid. There is nothing more satisfying for a reader than to be able to read between the lines of a story. This is the stuff of the best fiction. It is also possible that Bridge resonates with me because I am of dual heritage, as is my husband, and so feel a special empathy with the couple in the story.  But what I most like about Bridge is the author’s take on the theme of home as a place of safety built on understanding and compromise. In a world where over 220 million people live in countries they were not born in, this is a message of vital importance.

The English and Scots languages are abundant in strong, supple words and the author of A Trip of Dotterel clearly worked hard to find exactly the right ones to bring her story to life. The rich, rhythmic details and beguiling imagery pull you in and hold you there. I feel as if I am soaring upwards with “Dotterel” as she embraces nature and heads homewards. The fact that I have recently become a grandmother may have influenced my liking of this story. Certainly, I strongly identify with the suggested idea of unconditional grandmotherly/motherly love as both a driver and the foundation on which a home is built.

The precise details in Living Each Day are delightful. The words buzz with an energy which brings the everyday activities on the small isle of Arran to life, making the unexpected development towards the end of the story all the more poignant. Living Each Day is as much about a way of life changing, as change being a part of life. But I was especially moved by the positive suggestion that while life is constantly changing, a “home” is something more permanent, a kind of emotional ballast which helps steer us safely through these changing times.’

Both Marianne and Kendra give an honourable mention to But Still, Like Dust, for its beautiful, poetic imagery and powerful symbolism – and to A Moment of Enlightenment, which bent the rules a little but was cleverly done and made us all laugh!

Top Six Short-List (alphabetical order)

A Trip of Dotterel – Natalie Reid

Bridge – Sylvia Telfer

But Still, Like Dust – Lorrie Hartshorn

Drifting – Debby Waldron

Last One Standing – Alyson Hilbourne

Living Each Day – Catriona Patience

Highly Commended Long-List (no particular order)

Calling Kasim – A J McIntosh

Home Sweet Home – Liza Shackleton

The Book – Paula J T Nicolson

Grandma’s House – Sylvia Atipova

Flowers of the Mowha Tree – Joan MacDonald

A Moment of Enlightenment – Stephen Barnaby

Home – Anne-Trine Benjaminsen

End of An Era – Lesley Young

Flying Lessons – Fiona Graham

Home By Definition – Alasdair Goudie

You – Clare Morari

The Promise – Helene Cloete

The Place I Once Called Home – Laura Donald

Homecoming – Alayne Barton

The winners will receive their prizes in conjunction with Marianne at writingclasses.co.uk and their three stories will be published over the holiday period, here on Lothian Life. In the meantime, over in our Book Reviews section, read about Kendra’s eBook publication, The Forest King’s Daughter.

Thanks again to everyone who entered the competition and gave us all so much pleasurable reading. For future features that might be of interest, please do follow us @solovewriting and @LothianLife

In addition, the next writingclasses courses begin in January 2016, and online enrolment is taking place now.














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