The results of 2018 Short Story Contest (Category B: Age 13-16 Years)
First Prize, $500, Publishing
A fabulous little tale with amazing imagination. Great concept and approach on death. Very engaging from the beginning till the end. The beginning could be strengthed a little bit. The middle to the end though, when Death first gets to the house, showed much stronger writing. Lots of potential!
Second Prize, $250, Publishing
The descriptions are vivid and put the reader right into the action of the story. This is poignant, and the twist at the end packs a punch about the meaning of war and freedom of choice. Excellent language, dialogue, and message.
Third Prize, $100, Publishing
Great opening, puts us right into the story and sets the tone. The characters are loveable and have depth. Chronologically dividing the story worked well. Something to keep in mind when writing dialogue - remember how people talk in real life.
Special Mention, Publishing
A haunting and moving story of loneliness and desperation. Love the idea of finding comfort in familiar strangers and love the mystery of whether the boy is real or not, but that having this friend (even if made up) gave her confidence. It will leave the readers wanting to know more about the characters.
Special Mention, Publishing
The Emotional and Physical Embodiment of Stars
This author understands the power and potential of the short story. The opening until "indeed, stars were everywhere" is so lovely and engaging. Excellent choice and use of language throughout. The author picked words with intention rather than just to show of vocabulary. There is an elegance to this story with an undercurrent of tension, desire, and tenderness. The author amazingly weaves the motif of stars throughout the whole story, creating a connected beginning, middle, end in so few pages. A wonderfully poetic, imaginative, and touching story.
Dagger Jensen Saves the World
The voice of this story was fantastic. The author captured the energy of a little boy so well. The twist in the end was wonderful. The comment from the mom that his daddy would come home that night can confuse a reader. He clearly didn't show that night, so the reader would need to know if she was disappointed, worried, etc. Or maybe, change direction and have the woman not want him home. The reader needs something more than that one sentence to understand her relationship with her husband.
My name is Cambell
The beginning is so nice. Author's voice is perfect, and completely captures a little kid. Story is full of creative use of words making it very lively. The ending cuts off a little short. Readers need more to latch onto at the end… a twist or a deeper message.
This is a really cute story that captures the tension and awkwardness of becoming a teenager and more-than-friends with a childhood pal. Excellent use of language, and great work establishing relationships and tone. An original story with relatable characters.
The Battle That Changed Us
Very evocative story. Opening is great--hooks right away with the "secret." effectively handle the issue of stereotype. For example, the reader is surprised when the author reveals that the soldier is a woman. Jason's letter is a bit confusing--if he doesn't support her, why does he give her war information at the end of his letter? Great use of language though, a poignant message.
A sad little tale that's cleverly done and very well constructed. Great illustration of the routine and comfort of the main character's life prior to the accident. Impressive list of the things that he hates - the tone is very clear and constrasts with the tone he uses describing what he loves. The story kind of leaves a reader feeling very helpless at the end, in a good way, as the reader roots for him! Excellent writing.
Anuksha Ram Madhan
The opening describing death was wonderful. Using red as a motif is gorgeous throughout. This is writing and storytelling. Excellent work. Short stories are difficult, and the author did well. There is a beginning/middle/end, but more importantly it leaves a reader with a feeling s/he can't shake and makes him/her think. This is fantastic writing.
EXCELLENT imagery. Metaphor/simile used wonderfully. Only critique is that this seems like a great opening to a longer story rather than a short story that can stand alone. But it was still very engaging. The ending could have used a better twist.
Excellent use of language and metaphor. Difficult topic handled in a very real way. This will have the readers on the edge of their seat - which is commendable given such a short amount of time to achieve it. Ending felt a bit rushed though.
It's Never Us and Them
The structure of the story is well developed. The characters had depth which made the tale interesting to read. The story is memorable. Wonderful description, impressive language, could've gone deeper with plot, heart-warming though.
Katherine Lindsey Smith T
Author's descriptions and metaphors will make the reader emotional on the very first page. The author packed such a punch in just one and a half pages, and told a full story. Excellent, poetic work. Continue to explore and expand upon this!
Of Memories and Feathers
Great opening sentence! Actually, that's true for every sentence about Hallie in Everett's life: box of crayons, cocoa, muddy shoes… just beautiful imagery that really makes one feel how big this loss is for him. This is probably one of the sweetest depiction of childhood friendship ever written. The author is an excellent writer and if continues to practice and edit, will write phenomenal stories one day.
Writing is good, structure is clear and engaging. Need to research legal system. Also, the plot is a bit confusing and the opening is misleading. It feels like there are two separate stories here.
What powerful subject matter! Interesting perspective on this situation, and an unsympathetic critique of the justice system. Excellent use of language.
The Tales of a Single Mom
Solid writing and structure. Good visuals. Addressed the ironies of poverty and race well. Could have expanded a bit further though.
The Witching Hour
The author creatively uses conflict to move the story forward. The main character is well developed. This is an excellent writing in the sense that the concept can be developed as a full novel. Avoid filter words such as I walked, I see, he felt, etc. They weaken your writing and rob your reader of a more dynamic narration. A few plot holes… for example, how does Lucy know about her power if she keeps it a secret?
The stones and building blocks metaphor was wonderful. The author is successful in evoking emotions from the readers. Overall, interesting concept, but some clumsy sentences and confusing timeline. Difficult topic to try and cover in a short story.
The New Kid
An original, intriguing, and thought provoking story with such an interesting concept that deserves to be developed into a full novel. Meg's friend Lily believed her way too quickly. The dialogue needs some refinement.
Robbed with Nickels
This was heartbreaking. The author did an excellent job capturing the desperation of the time. Taking a moment in history made it human, and brought it to life. This could be a memorable tale with some work on plot.
A really poignant little story. The reader is rooting for Birdie from the start. First sentence shows such a nice contradiction, lovely. Spelling and sentence structure were a bit distracting, but overall the story was told well and the ending broke reader's heart.
Xuan Xuan (Angelina) Li
First of all, this issue is tackled in such an honest and real way, and it's easy to relate to the insecurities swarming this girl's mind. Use of language was bold and set an ominous and desperate tone for the story that proved to be appropriate through the ending. However, sometimes when we as writers get into the weeds of setting tone through poetic language, we have to go back and edit... edit... edit. Make sure every word is used with purpose, not just to impress. Overall though this story was great and sad the ending perfectly reflected the earlier statement "I could never fully love nor truly ever hate"... Nice work.