Short Story competition - Missing

WinnerAll Human Wisdom, by Dianne Bown-Wilson

Runner-upSomeone Else’s Skin, by Joe Bedford

Highly CommendedThe Unclaimed, by Dan Cooper

Some brilliant writing in the final seven in this competition; from the laugh-out-loud Had to Go (Joy Cuffee) to the poignant and sensual Banana Bread (Rachael Hill); from the haunting mythological metamorphosis of Daphne’s Turn (Stephanie Percival) to the tragi-comic desperation of a lockdown widow in Sitting on my Husband, by Julia Wood. Every one beautifully crafted, and each a gem of short storytelling.

To select the winner was enormously difficult. Dan Cooper’s The Unclaimed deserves a special mention for its disturbing Edward Hopper-ish urban noir quality, highlighting the psychological impact on those who deal with unexplained disappearances and deaths.

It was a very close-run decision between Someone Else’s Skin (Joe Bedford) and Dianne Bown-Wilson’s All Human Wisdom. The writing in each was laser-sharp in painful detail; both were deeply moving and insightful. Joe Bedford’s female narrator is tautly-written, almost breathless, and in a narrative that could have been wildly overplayed is all the more powerful in its restraint. The balance of grief, regret and acceptance is perfectly handled.

In the end, however, All Human Wisdom just tipped the scales. The benign setting, contrasting a rural domestic idyll with an unexplained and unexpected disappearance, provides a layered and sustained tension right up to the final line, building a profound and tortuous sense of loss, hope, and longing for resolution that continues far beyond the story.

Congratulations to Dianne and Joe, whose prizes will be on the way to them shortly.

Flash Fiction competition

Two Halves: two flashes each of up to 150 words relating two sides of a story, event, or conversation. The two halves should inform each other but also work as individual pieces.

This competition is now closed for entries.

First prize: £75 and Hastings Writers Room trophy

Runner-up: £40 and Hastings Writers Room trophy

The Shortlist and winners will be announced in August.