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2020 Members Only Prose Competition Judge’s Report

2020 PCWC Members Only 500 Word Prose Competition


General comments

As the writers who contributed to this competition would know, just because flash/micro-fiction is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to produce. The challenge involved in creating a world and evoking feelings in readers within the space of a page or two is a great one, and I was delighted to read so many entries that were able to meet it. Strengths common to many of the stories include powerful descriptions, a strong sense of place, and the creation of a mood that lingers beyond the span of 500 words.

One of the hardest things for a flash fiction writer to do is leave readers with the impression that something fundamental has shifted over the course of so few pages. Experiencing a ‘slice of life’ is one of the pleasures of reading, but the biggest payoff comes when a seemingly minor moment depicted in a piece of flash fiction has an impact greater than the sum of its parts. This may be something to consider in future for those entrants who didn’t receive an award or commendation this time around.

Congratulations to all the writers who entered. Every single story had qualities that made for an enjoyable reading experience, and you should be proud of your efforts!

Novice Award: ‘Spawned’ by Christine Eyres

The author of ‘Spawned’ is able to give a sense of the main characters’ past, present and future in less than 500 words, and the power shift at the end is subtle but effective. The imagery is beautifully rendered, making the reader feel as if they too are night diving.

Novice Commendation: ‘The Fear’ by Carolyn Parker

This piece of horror flash fiction throws the reader into the action from the first sentence and its suspenseful, malevolent atmosphere is maintained throughout. The motif of watching and being watched is cleverly deployed to give the ending extra impact.

Member Award: ‘Going Home’ by Elizabeth Brennan

On first reading this story I was genuinely surprised and touched by the twist at the end, which is earned by the writer’s attention to detail and mood. The voice of the narrator is clear and authentic, eliciting reader sympathy and adding weight to the final revelation.

Member Commendation: ‘The Love Affair’ by Laila Miller

This piece is structured not according to typical narrative conventions, but through the natural elements of weather patterns and passing time. The elegant use of language and precision of the descriptions creates the same magical feeling as is experienced in the story.

Thank you for inviting me to judge this competition and good luck to all the entrants in their future writing endeavours!

Brooke Dunnell, 6 November 2020

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