SA Writers College 2017 Short Story Competition



2017 Annual Short Story Award


For Emerging Writers in South Africa




The Winners


We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2017 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.
The winning stories were original, heartfelt and beautifully written. Congratulations on a superb effort.



FIRST PLACE: ‘Frankie' - by Heinrich van der Walt

RUNNER-UP: ‘The Teen Factor’ - by Janice Gardiner-Atkinson

THIRD PLACE: 'King of the Road' - by Carina Maré


Fourth place is awarded to ‘Whole Heart’ by Tumelo Ratladi.


Read the judges' comments and the top three stories below the results lists.



Highest Honours


These stories narrowly missed making the top four. The characters are authentic, plotlines are credible, and the style and grammar are generally excellent.

‘Mr Deli’ – by Aluwani Elizabeth Manenzhe
‘Pick Anything’ - by Ashley Fairfoot
‘The Owner of her Heart’ – by Nondumiso Zondi
‘The Wedding Dress Bear’ – by Amber-Jay van Rooyen
‘The Conflicted Girl’ – by Sekutupu Pretty Kubayi
‘The Disappearance of Kathryn Casey’ – by Helena Higgins
‘The World Spins Endlessly’ – by Lauren Fraser
‘The Heart Behind the Lens’ – by Peter Charter
‘These Aren’t Mine’ – by Caitlin O’Connor
‘Sacred Wine, Secret Child’ – by Asifa Zara Essop
‘Remember It All’ – by Jonathan Botha
‘A Letter to Death’ – by Antonetta Elizabetta Dresen
‘Her Story was Pain’ – by Shifaa Singlee
‘Avoiding Loneliness’ – by Malika Kahn
‘Closure’ – by Keshav Maharaj

SAWC 2017 Short Story Writing Competition Highest Honours








These well-written stories had great plotlines, solid characters, and were enjoyable to read. Well done to these very good writers.

‘The Jungle Within’ - by Mike Job
‘A Johannesburg Christmas’ - by James H. Ward
‘Deceiving Hearts’ - by Raymond Hattingh
‘The Containment’ - by Angela Kirykowicz
‘Made To Be Nothing’ - by Laura Campbell
‘Friday’ - by Sifiso Mtshali
‘Stranger and I’ – by Tatum Adonis
‘The Initiation’ – by Musa Gift Masombuka
‘Ward 15’ – by Katlego mofokeng
‘Sister Sacramento’ – by Irene Simpson
‘My World as Big as my Scrapbook’ – By S Rawood
‘Insecure’ – by Ijeoma Sharon Adaugo Iroka
‘The Heart of the Beast’ – by Duncan Aird
‘From Love, Do We Live and Die…’ - Waseem Wadia
‘After the War, We Went to Bed’ – by Lwazi Shwala
‘What Happened to my World?’ – by Abdul Aziz Isaacs
‘Witch’ - Barrie Lake
‘Escaping Life’ - Ilze Germishuys
‘A World Scrolled Through’ - Stefan van der Vegte
‘Keke and the Brave Horse’ - Manzendonga Njokweni
‘Just the Two of Us’ – by Therveshree Canniappen
‘Chance Meeting’ – by Sanabelle Ebrahim
‘Slamming Doors’ – by Christine de Vos
‘Both Near and Far’ – by Robert Hugh John
‘The Jack of Hearts’ – by Kris van der Bijl
‘A Fly named Dennis’ – by Dean Ashley Swartz
‘Blouse of Cards’ – by Yivani Chitumwa
‘16 Bars’ – by Maluleka Adolph
‘Now or Never: My Tears for Her’ – by Sbonelo Majola

SAWC 2017 Short Story Writing Competition Honours





Honourable Mention

We thoroughly enjoyed these well-told tales.

SAWC 2017 Short Story Writing Competition Honourable Mention

‘Ruby Cons while the Crows Sing’ - by Pebetse Matabane
‘The Music Lesson’ - by Carita Visser
‘Bang Bang!’ – by Amy Adelle
‘A Change of Heart’ – by Barry Ger
‘Memory Box’ - by Rebone Makgato
‘The Trip’ - by Mbanjwa Sanele
‘The Allure of Foreign Trauma’ - by Retshepisitswe Makhatha
‘Dining Hall’ – by Ayanda Gamedze
‘Pablo and the Mount Nelson’ - by Jody Sampson
‘Uncle Joe’s Café’ - by Shameelah Khan
‘The Confessions of a Domestic Worker’ - by
Darrel Hofland
‘Significant Little Lies’ - by Carey Saaiman
‘I Have Lived, From Childhood To Adulthood To Childhood’ - by Thabo Pitja
‘Marshmallow Malady’ - by Anthony Louis Von Zeil
‘Why Lectures and Quotes Don’t Always Mix’ - by Joshua Miller
‘A Person’s World is only as Big as their Heart’ - by Lynette Afonso
‘Brother / Sister’ - by Michael Schapiro
‘A Night Out’ - by Aurèlie Msiza
‘Heart Seed’ - by Dayle Duncan
‘A Person's World is only as Big as their Heart’ - by Derek Reyneke
‘Too Late’ - by M N Guy
‘A Ghost of a Chance’ - by Cherise Pillay
‘Saturday Night’ - by Jarred Cinman
‘The Prophesy’ - by Mari Fouché
‘Too Late’ – by Maxine Guy
‘Die Fokken Jackrussel’ - by Tanios Tony Garzouzie
‘Agatha’s Cats’ - by Carol Watts
‘A New Empire’ - by Lukhanyo Sikwebu

      More Stories We Loved

Great writing is about attention to detail, and pushing the boundaries with words, characters and structure. Next year we'd like to see these authors climbing up the results ladder.

‘Seeing the World through New Eyes’ – by Chantell Hayward-Zeelie
‘Re-birth’ – by Peter Hood
‘A Child I Wished Away’ - By Phumla Mali
‘The Honeybee Loses Her Wings’ - By Wynand Conradie
‘In The Life of a Counselor’ - By Catharine Smale
‘Pepsi, Pie and Swimming Pools In-The-Sky’ – by Cynthia Kistasamy
‘Power of Love’ - by Sekhaolelo Tiego
‘Finding Purpose’ - by Jennifer Dempster
‘Broken’ - by Jeanine Beukes
‘Soul Rings’ – by Kate Titmus
‘A Person's World is only Big as their Heart’ - by Khanya Mgwebi
‘Three Sisters’ – by Richard Hasler
‘Haven’s Dream’ – by Sibongokuhle Kubheka
‘Hope For All: Aura’s Story’ – by Wendy Frick
‘The Lucky Cat’ - by Liezl Phillips
‘Cracked Mirror’ - by Lezaan Visagie
‘A Person’s World is only as Big as their Heart’ - by Melaney Peters
‘The Trembling Life’ - by Melania Charmaine Dzwowa
‘Chocolate Tasting’ – by Lazola Pambo
‘Ititihoya’ – by Sue Fairfoot


More Writers with Potential

These stories also stood out; all potential winners in the making!

‘The Monster’ – by Yandisa Nosasa
‘My Gift’ – by Zita Ripepi
‘Incarcerated Stranger’ - by Chalene Daniels
‘R.E.D.’- by Zamambo V. Mkhize
‘The Notebook’ – by Graham Austin
‘Celestial Encounters: Destined To Be Together’ – by Lebogang K Tlou
‘#Racism Must Fall’ - by Lerato Mokati
‘My Heart, My World!’ – by Ajibulu Adebowale
‘An I For An I’ – by Michael Matthews
‘The Boogey-Man & the Girl in the Red Ranger’ – by Jennifer Ann Grinwis
‘Tension Chez Tiffanie’ - by Kira Mungai
‘And All Things Fell Apart’ – by Nemavunde Dzhavhelo Mulalo
‘One Second’ – by Yusuf Jaffer
‘Yesterday in Tomorrowland’ – by Vuyelwa Happiness Mtolo
‘The Other Side of Life’ – by Yolandie Nieuwoudt
‘How I Took My Heart Back’ – by Simoné Pheko
‘I See the World through the Hole in My Heart’ – by Darrionn Drew
‘Jon Doe: a Crime Story’ - by Jc Zondi
‘Heart of Home’ – by Michelle Diedericks
‘Urine and Fresh Meat’ – by Jarred Thompson

Keep up the great writing! We look forward to hearing from you again next year for our SA Writers College competition closing 30 April 2018.

The judges’ ratings and comments for the top three stories

A huge thank you to our judges this year: Ginny Swart, Alexandra Smith, Andrew Salomon, Karen Jeynes , Fiona Ingram and Maya Fowler.


First Place



by Heinrich van der Walt

SAWC 2017 Short Story Writing Competition Winner
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 23/30
Originality 24/30
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 24/30
Characterization 27/30
Imagery and use of language 25/30
Overall gut response to story 24/30

TOTAL 147/180


Judges’ comments
  • The school years describing the bullying and general misery of Frankie's life were really good but I just feel the so-happy and forgiving ending is a bit too contrived. Ginny
  • An intriguing story of reversals of fortune with a clever twist in the end but it feels heavy on backstory. In fact, the whole story unfolds like backstory and there is very little in-the-moment dialogue to lift it out of a sense of passive telling. One of the lines of dialogue even seems hyperbolic – 'by far the luckiest patient I have ever treated'. Alex
  • The reader feels genuine empathy for the young Frankie, but the ending feels a bit too neat and planned. Andrew
  • This managed what the true hallmark of a classic short story is: a twist in the tale. It achieved it seamlessly, and it added meaning to what had gone before, so much so that as a reader I wanted to reread this immediately, which is always a good sign! Karen
  • This is the best story in my opinion. Well written, with attention to grammar and spelling, wonderful evocative descriptions, a sense of sorrow, history, decay and despair. There is depth and emotion that will move the reader, perhaps stir up their own memories. The irony is both powerful and poignant. I would be interested in reading more from this author. Fiona
  • This story is well crafted and held my attention from the start. It seemed to me a clear winner, but the ending is a let-down. Effective endings remain a challenge with short stories, and this is the case with "Frankie". Very good use of language and imagery. Maya

Runner Up



'The Teen Factor'

by Janice Gardiner-Atkinson

SAWC 2017 Short Story Writing Competition Runner up
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 24.5/30
Originality 23.5/30
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 24/30
Characterization 24.5/30
Imagery and use of language 24.5/30
Overall gut response to story 23.5/30

TOTAL 144.5/180


Judges’ comments
  • Love the light, chatty style, the imagery used to describe the chaotic teenage situation and the whole feel of this was just right. Ginny
  • This puts the reader beautifully into the shoes of this step-mother who manages her horror of the teenager in her midst with great compassion and who in the end is rewarded with a modicum of affection. In some ways, the fact that the father of the teen is dead, makes the story somewhat melodramatic and perhaps detracts from the deftly created dynamics of parenting a modern, middle class teenager. Alex
  • A sympathetic glimpse into the interior world of a stepmother trying to cope with overwhelming challenges. At times the dialogue feels affected and there are some issues with tenses. Andrew
  • This is a highly readable story, with a real heart to it. There's a lovely warmth and gentleness to the way the story unfolds, it feels familiar, but also full of hope and optimism. Karen
  • The author's style and sense of dry humour lifted this story from a potentially mundane 'terrible teen' tale to something quite different. The slight exaggeration when talking about unleashing a virus on the neighbourhood and similar imagery is very amusing and adults will appreciate this humour. What surprised me was the revelation of a step-mother's feelings. This was well done. Fiona
  • Great story, but again, the ending could do with work. Endings really do prove to be the greatest challenge of the short story! In this case the solution is easy – pretty much just cutting the last paragraph and tweaking the preceding one.  A warm, entertaining and highly readable style. Maya

Third Place



'King of the Road'

by Carina Maré


SAWC 2017 Short Story Writing Competition 3rd Place
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 24/30
Originality 22.5/30
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 24/30
Characterization 23/30
Imagery and use of language 24/30
Overall gut response to story 23/30

TOTAL 140.5/180


Judges’ comments
  • Loved the tight, dark edge to this and the way we slowly learned why his feelings for his father changed from love to hate. Ginny
  • A cautionary tale perhaps about the long-term ramifications of parental negligence. The narrator's bitter rage is palpable and well conveyed. Yet, it is hard to truly sympathise with this angry narrator who is unable to forgive his father: any parent who leaves their child who cannot swim with an alcoholic in a place where the pool has no fence is themselves negligent. This plot point could be tweaked. Alex
  • A visceral slice of life that evokes empathy in the reader without resorting to clichés. Andrew
  • There's a beautiful calm to this story that bellies the subject matter, but holds the reader as you take us on the journey with you. The style of your writing is well suited to this task. Karen
  • A very moving story that held my attention. The author perfectly captured the way families are, the little internecine wars that go on, the problems, the pettiness, the favourite child syndrome. The descriptions are just great and drew me in as the reader, creating the scenes of idyllic childhood memories, and then contrasting with the reek of hospital wards, sickness and death. Fiona
  • A very readable story, bitter-sweet. The idea is not particularly original, but is still well handled. Maya




PRIZES: Basiese Kreatiewe Skryfkursus

  • First Prize: R 10 000.00
  • Second Prize: R 5 000.00
  • Third Prize: R 2 000.00

THEME:  A person's world is only as big as their heart. ~ Tanya A. Moore

DEADLINE:  30 April 2017 - Now closed for entries.





  • anthology-400We aim to support beginner writers. We only accept stories from writers who have never been published, or who have been published fewer than four times in any genre. This includes fiction or non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). Journalists, copywriters or web writers must please not apply. We make an exception for unpaid articles for community or work newsletters, or blogs, where the circulation is under 1000.
  • Entry is limited to South African residents only.
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Stories that appear to be entirely unrelated to the theme will not be considered.
  • We strongly recommend that writers read through the competition archives or the past winning stories to see what kind of writing appeals to us at SA Writers College. We enjoy highly original writing that is authentic and thought-provoking.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • Only e-mail submissions are acceptable, with stories attached as Word Documents. Mark your entry clearly with the subject line: SAWC Annual Short Story Competition, and submit according to rules below.
  • If you have not received an acknowledgement of your submission within three days, please re-send your entry.
  • Queries and submissions must be sent to Nichola Meyer: [email protected]



  • Your first page of your Word document must include the story title and your name (using a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12, with no special formatting please), your email address and total number of words of the entry.
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story, except the title page. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”, or on our webzine. Read these:

Archives View our Archived Competition Entries Here


Ginny Swart Short Story Tutor lb

Ginny Swart
has sold over 700 short stories all over the world. Read more about her here >

Alex Smith letterbox

Award-winning author Alex Smith has published five novels. Read more about her here >
Karen Jeynes letterbox

Award-winning playwright Karen Jeynes has written several plays and TV series. Read more here >

Multi-award winning writer Fiona Ingram specialises in writing books for children. Read more about her here >

Andrew Salomon
has published several novels and has won the PEN/ Studzinski literary award. Find out more about him here >

Multi-talented Maya Fowler is the author of several novels. Read more about her here >


  • The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa over the age of 16.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 30 April 2017. The shortlist is published on 16 May, and the winners will be announced and displayed on our website by 31 May 2017.
  • Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • Entrant must own full copyright of the piece.
  • Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be displayed on our website.
  • The judges' decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within 72 hours, please contact us – your email may have got lost in transit.
  • SA Writers College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline, or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.

Photo credit: Benny Yap
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