The Writers Bureau Short Story Competition 2019
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Winners of the Short Story Competition 2020


Winner - Jean Cooper Moran with Walking Water
2nd Place - Jim Goodman with Siren
3rd Place - Caroline Slater with Where the Bees Swarm
4th Place - Colin Watts with Fentiman Four-eyes


Short List for the Short Story Competition 2020
in Alphabetical Order.


Dianne Bown-Wilson - Compassion Fatigue

Gillian Brown - Hooked

Jackie Bull - Little Red

Michael Callaghan - The Truth About Jon Kowalczyk

Venetia Carter - Mystery Ingredient

Kim Clarke - God Always Provides

Jean Cooper Moran - Walking Water

Christine Cox - Plural Nouns

Louise Crowe - The Velvet Night

Rowan Evans - Severance Pay

Rowena Fishwick - Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Jim Goodman - Siren

Rhian Holvey - 13.00

Denny Jace - The Albatross

Gill Osmond - Entumeni: A Place of Thorns

Robert Rayner - Wish You Were Here

Padmini Sankar - Butter Chicken for the Soul

Caroline Slater - Where the Bee Swarms

Colin Watts - Fentiman Four-eyes

Joan Wilson - Blood and Cuts



Congratulations to all of you who've made it onto the short list.

Commiserations to those who didn't. But don't give up. Read on to see where you could have gone wrong and try again.

Not on the short list? Where you could have gone wrong.

Not everyone can go through to the next round - but did you make it easy for the judges to put your story on the 'no' pile? Now's the time to re-look at your entry, as you've got some distance from it, and to analyse where you may have gone wrong. Here are some of the common mistakes people made:

  1. Did you stick to the rules? Read the rules again and check to see if you stuck to them. Several people sent in stories over the stipulated 2000 word limit not including the title. If you were just one word over then your story went on to the 'no' pile - even if it was fantastic.

  2. Did you rush the ending? There were quite a few entries where the ending was rushed despite having plenty of words left. You don't have to write 2000 words if your story is complete at 1500. But do make sure it is complete and not weak at the end, especially if you're under the word count.

  3. Did your story become boring? I'm afraid to say some stories did make the judges yawn. Some started slow and stayed that way whilst others felt they were being stretched to fill the word count. So, check to see if your story set a good pace or if it was padded out.

  4. Was your entry properly proofread? Yes, I'm sorry to say that some entries were littered with poor grammar, bad spelling and clunky writing. Straight to the 'no' pile for them!

  5. Was your story a cliché? There were several stories that were really well written but the judges had seen many like them before. Here is a useful blog post from competition judge Iain Pattison which tells you what subjects to avoid in competition stories. Read more...

Want to improve? Help is at hand.

Check out our 'How to Write for Competitions - and win!' course, written by Iain Pattison and Alison Chisholm - two experienced writers and competition adjudicators. Find out more...

It ís always good to get a professional opinion and The Writers Bureau's Review and Appraisal Service will give you that. One of our tutors will give you constructive criticism on your work and help you to improve your writing. For short stories up to 4,000 words it is £50 and then £6 for each additional 1,000 words up to 8,000. Find out more...

Or you could have up to 2000 words reviewed for £25. Find out more ...

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