The results of 2018 Short Story Contest (Category A: Age 10-13 Years)
First Prize, $500, Publishing
That Glowing Penny
A sad but immensely beautiful story. The characters have been developed so well that you will fall for them. Harper is a compelling character. Great smell and tactile descriptions: sweet scent of cinnamon and citrus, grainy feel of dirt. What sad life; you describe it so well. A very poetic story. The only improvement to the story could be to give some more context - it sounded like these people lived in an alternative society so, if this was the case, there should have been more information and description so the reader understood more and the story could stand up by itself a little better.
Second Prize, $250, Publishing
Hephaestus, Aphrodite and Dwayne Johnson
Great title that hooks the reader in straightaway. Fantastic descriptions of imagery throughout. Great setting choice, sits nicely in the chosen genre. Beautiful prose: crescent-moon curve of a rosy almost-smile, saluting marble-grey rocks, tainted with desperation. You capture the essence of the two gods very well. Wonderful last sentence. The story is like a lyrical poem, and its theme of opposites attracting in the form of two very different characters makes it extremely intriguing the whole way through. Maybe a little repetitive in places, try to make sure there's always something happening as well as the character's inner thoughts.
Third Prize, $100, Publishing
Quinn F Kammer
This story has all the makings of great speculative fiction and looks at the true cost of modern convenience with depth and understanding. Poor Klaus, though! The author very successfully evoked empathy and emotion for a robot that has to watch its human family disintegrate into digital addiction and malaise. It had a very sad ending, but a powerful one. The story could have used a bit more exploration into why the family had ended up going down the route they did, but otherwise this is an exceptional piece of writing.
Special Mention, Publishing
Author has amazing talent for personifying all the animals within the writing. Each sea creature has its own unique style, making them feel almost human. The use of vocabulary was spot-on, and the introduction was amazing. The author utilizes a lovely quote from Rachel Carson to set an evocative mood and explores what it's like to be uprooted to a brand new environment. Best of all was the ocean setting; it's described beautifully and with an almost poetic style that makes everything come alive. Something to think - consider the world around the main character; the temperature, brightness of the day or darkness of the night, the breeze etc. Also consider time passing.
Special Mention, Publishing
Unplayed Duet is a brilliant, painful and often poignant tale told partially in third-person prose and partially in lyrics, giving a timeless story of life and death and a very understaning version of the Grim Reaper, removing the horror often associated with this figure and creating a character with amazing depth and complexity. As Amie questions why her brother had to die, she realizes that she and Death both have something in common - the ability to love and grieve. The author did a perfect job, especially with the beautiful songs woven throughout the story. Note to the author for the next time - read to someone who has no idea about the things you are descibing to make sure that they too can understand what you're going for.
'Soup' is a beautifully written romantic story. The story has all the basic five components: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict and the resolution. Presence of all these components make the story flow smoothly. Easy to enjoy from start to finish and a really great title idea! The story develops wonderfully and ends well - the ending could have been worked a bit more though.
Compelling voice. Megan is such a loveable character. Poetic prose: eyelashes laced in snow. The writer is excellent at creating suspense. This reads like a fabulous first chapter to a bigger story. Some more character development would have made the characters more realistic yet the writer did a great job in crafting an original plot about orphanage life and neglect. Such a deep thinking at such young age is really incredible.
Flames of Freedom
This was an excellent albeit very sad tale of the futility of war and the main character's endearing hope of finding a safe place to live. The title hooks you in. Isa and her love for Claya and her mother is wonderfully written and part of what makes it easy to like her. Also, her determination to change her fate and fight for her freedom is really great. The journey element makes this story very strong. It was a little unclear when this was set and how much time passes in the narrative. Also, when writing try to consider the five senses and how they affect someone.
This is a very original and spooky story but uplifting at the same time! The unique take on life and death was interesting. The author isn't afraid to go deeper with the themes of the writing, exploring a dark subject but offering a positive happy ending at the same time. The main character's relationship with his beloved mom was very realistic. The story begins well but somehow losses its charm on the way. Also, would have been better if the main character had been more proactive in the story - when there's a problem it's nice to see the character working hard to solve it and when they instead simply watch what's happening it can feel a little disappointing.
Don't Judge Me!
This tale impresses you on many levels. There is originality in the idea and, most importantly, one can see author's attempt to come out with something different. The author has also been succesful in keeping the attention of the readers till the end. With slight improvement in dialogues, the quality of the story could have been enhanced further. Story tackled a difficult subject matter - bullying - in a very real way and still managed to keep things funny and light in some places and serious in others. To improve make sure to reread through your story a couple of times to make sure it flows and that others undertstand where you're coming from. Also, when creatng a new world make sure you provide enough description of visuals as well as how the world works so that the reader can imagine it better.
Great opening scene and fantastic world building. Really easy to become invested in the story and the reader is instantly wondering what'll happen next. Also, a fantastic twist in the story. This is really well-written with a good balance of sci-fi and human relationships and drama. The story lacks some elements of emotions. Inclusion of emotional elements would have made the charcters even richer.
My Journey to Freedom
To see a young author so hauntingly write about slavery and resilience was amazing, and this story is as unforgettable as it is heartbreaking. For an author at the mere age of twelve to put a tale of racism and exploitation into such simple and inspirational words is quite an accomplishment. If there is a language barrier with two character and you are writing from the perspective of one of them, it's okay not to write what the second person is saying, just give enough context around so the reader can guess more or less what's going on.
Aidan Phipps Oneto
A Tennis Ball
This story gives a human face to bullies and looks at them not as monsters, but as potential friends who deserve a second chance. Francisco is a great character with loads of personality, and as he attempts to relate to his own bully - readers get a glimpse into the life of belittlement and family dysfunction that led to the behavior in the first place. Sometimes we all need a helping hand, and this story proves it's worth it to reach out. Practise writing speech a little more by studying how people talk in real life and on the radio and on tv so yours flows better.
An Interesting Opponent
'An Interesting Opponent' is a well-written tale. There are elements of mystery and suspense and these elements have been executed well. The author knows how to pace the story and has done really well on this front. The characters have been developed well. Inclusion of more background knowledge would have made this story more intresting. The ending did not do justice to the rest of the story - as the story had invested the reader and led them to believe that something magical or ghostly was happening and so, while a smart cat is fun and interesting, it's not what the reader expected and it was also not shocking enough to make up for this.
This is the story of a foster girl getting adopted and her developing relationship with her new parents. The emotions of the lead characters have been executed briliantly but we do not find anything new in the storyline. Consequently the story becomes predictable. The pace of the story is good and the author knows the art of the writing.
Mason Xavier Surratt
See You In Valhalla
This story was well-written - a little gory, but very emotional and vivid. Very well-thoughtout. Also nice to see use of a strong female character. The historical theme came out well. An intensely dark story sometimes makes it difficult to relate to the character. The plot felt a bit disjointed. Anyhow, it's a clever, profound and poignant tale and it displays a lot of maturity and passion for the setting the story takes place in.
With good narrative skill, the author has crafted a beautiful tale. The story has both action and emotions. The plot has a well-defined conflict and there is something for the readers to get hooked on. The story is sometimes sweet, other times brutal and ultimately a powerful tale of nature and the true definition of family. Think about focusing on improving dialouges.
The basic concept used in this story is not new and has been used a number of times in past. But the way the idea has been executed in this story is certainly fresh. The opening is fantastic! The sytle and format of the story were cleverly executed. Next time, to get into the exciting parts of your story sooner make sure you're only telling the reader important information or that what you are saying is adding to the overal feeling of the story.
The Ship of Steel
This is a story filled with action and adventure. With creative imagination, the author has written a wonderful tale. Author's voice is clear and expresses clearly. However, at the same time, the author needed to work more on developing the characters. Additionally, some more details related to the ship would have helped.
Lily Learns Love
A really well thought out story about family, bullying and relationships. A complex topic dealt with ease and the author needs to be appreciated for that. Dramatic twist in the story was well-written. Nice to see strong character development. The author needs to work more on the dialogue.
Jona Cordonier Gehring
Speaking Up for Each Other
This story is very current in its themes, as we are living in an era of polarized politics and a refugee crisis. Oftentimes it's hard to empathize with people if you've never been in their shoes, but this brilliant and moving story gives readers a chance to get a glimpse into the life of a Somalian refugee named Jason and offers a sharp contrast between him and a well-off young British boy who runs a web news show about activism. With startlingly impressive vocabulary usage, a lot of references to real issues/controversies, a powerful message of friendship and paying it forward, this story clearly shows the talent and maturity of the author. A slightly more attention to the plot development could have made this story even more enjoyable.
Wisps of Hope
'Wisp of Hope'' is a tale filled with wonderful imagination. Consisent voice throughout and great handling of emotion, voice, character development and relationships. Powerful ending. Ties well with history. Be careful with the use of tenses. Certain portions of the story sound too clinical.
Cecilia Mae Richwine
Lost and Found
This is the story of a young fox and a little girl who find love, companionship, trust and acceptance in each other. A well-sketched storyline with lots of emotions, the story leaves a definite impression on the readers. Author's effective use of detail adds a certain charm to the well-crafted tale. Inclusion of some well-written dialogue could have enhanced the quality of the story further.
Great story about the effects of bullying and the healing powers of friendship, and self-love. This is a story of a small girl and her understanding of the term ''beautiful''. It is a well-written story and takes the readers right into the world of this girl. Dialogue has been used perfectly at appropriate places. The thoughts coming in girl's mind could have been dealt (written) in a better manner. Also, the different scenes could have been stitched together more smoothly.
Here to Play
Great title. Really nice to hear a personal story about judgement and mispreception about yourself. It's important to spread stories like these so that others can feel motivated to change and grow. This is a charcter driven story and, therefore, should have concentrated more on developing the character of the central lead.