The judge's verdict 2007
Well done to everyone who was short-listed!
Read our judge's feedback below, announcing our £150 winner
Judge D says: Once again we received an impressive variety of entries and usual it has been a most difficult task to select the winner of this year's competition. I realise you would expect me to say that, but it has! All the short-listed entries demonstrate strengths in the various judging criteria specified below, which is why they have been short-listed from the ever-increading number of entries received. I am aware that once again my verdict does not reflect the public vote, although all your comments are much appreciated and have been taken into account in ensuring that Special is awarded the position of First Runner-up. So here is the explanation of this year's judging process, in accordance with the following criteria, although as always you are still invited to post your comments on our Discussion Board, whether you agree or disagree...
First Runner-up: Special
It is this wonderful characterisation which makes this such a strong entry: right from the beginning, and throughout the story, we understand Billy beautifully through the narration of his thoughts and asides which are used to unfurl the plot most skilfully. The apple is also used as a means of revealing his character further, and the other pictures also contribute to the story, most notably the tent, while humour is another aspect of this story, further adding to its strong impression and style.
Second Runner-up: Little White Lie
Without doubt a very imaginative entry built around a William Tell theme for the apple, with a distinctive way of including the tent and particularly innovative use of the 'L' plate, while the camera also plays an important part in the strength of the ending where we are told that this was Gabriel's first knife throw. The story is well-constructed with an opening that draws the reader in, and the narrative builds up our understanding of Tamsyn's nature in such a way that this characterisation is then used to explain how she has been led into the situation she finds herself in.
2007 Winning Entry: Forbidden Fruit
It is not simply for the twist in the tail ending that this entry has been judged as the best story, but for meeting all the judging criteria in a powerful way. There is a clear twist at the end, but the real strength of the ending is in the way there are clues for us all along which are only red herrings until they become clear on a second reading. Noticeably, it is in a second reading that both the 'L' plates and the apples used for the apple pie gain more importance than may be apparent at first glance, and although the tent is not central to the plot it is nevertheless used to bring in a touch of humour, while the fence and camera are key elements in the story. There is also good characterisation and heavy symbolism used which contributes to the strong overall impression of the writing, making this entry a worthy overall winner.
A similar story to 'Special' in many ways, using the tent as a central aspect of the story. It is in a very readable style, narrated by an apparently endearing figure who at first has our sympathy as an innocent victim of abuse... and the strength of the story's good impression is partly due to its subtle construction: it is only at the end that we find out the narrator is a girl, of course, but we start to lose our concept of sympathy for her when we realise that at 17 she is certainly aware that what she is doing is wrong, and then the lack of remorse about both her dad and her granddad make more sense. In addition to the use of the tent, the 'L' plates and fence are also key aspects of the crisp ending, which covers all the potential loose ends in one go, making it a very well executed twist.
Another story which scores well in all the different criteria, with innovative use of the fence being used to construct the main premise of the story and its twist, which is very well set up from the beginning. There is also strong characterisation, not only through the use of a Scottish accent, but also in aspects such as Mike being out of breath from 'too many fags and pints' which seems incongruous at first, in the context of an escaping POW, but fits perfectly with him when we understand who he is. The tents are a surprise when they are introduced, suggesting it is possibly a refugee camp, with the 'L' plates also used in an original way, and overall the story carries a very good style and a strong impression.
An interesting concept built around use of the apple in this story, although the other pictures are featured more as bit-parts in the drama. However, the story is carried by a strong style in the narrative, which also brings a measure of characterisation into play, and enables the imaginative nature of the writer to find expression.
And so, congratulations to this year's winner, Rosanna McGlone-Healey of Lincoln...
These and other entries have been published in our 2008 anthology: 43 'L' Plates
...and you can still comment on any of these stories and the judging on our Discussion Board
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