2018 Annual Short Story Award


For Emerging Writers in South Africa



Give it a go!


The annual SA Writers College Short Story Competition is held to acknowledge excellence in creative writing in the Short Story form.


The competition is open to any writer residing in South Africa who is unpublished, or has been published fewer than four times.


The Winners


We are delighted to announce our winners in the 2018 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.
The winning stories were original, thought-provoking and beautifully written.
Congratulations on an outstanding effort.



FIRST PLACE: ‘There's an App for That' - by Simon F. Ratcliffe

RUNNER-UP: ‘Hero's Brush With Mutiny’ - by Amelia Warren

THIRD PLACE: 'Mother Knows' - by Hendri Rhodes


In fourth place is Heinrich van der Walt’s ‘Asking Is the Hard Part’.
‘The Surfer and the Rock’, written by Therveshree Canniappen, placed fifth.

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



Highest Honours


These stories narrowly missed making the top five. The characters are authentic, plotlines are credible, and the storytelling is excellent.

‘Right Here, Right Now’ – by Janice Gardiner-Atkinson
‘Turning Something into Nothing’ - by Jane Wrench
‘Off Our Noodles’ - by Mary-Ann Thomson
‘The Pianist’ – by Sifiso Mtshali
‘God, Love and Feminism’ – by Philile Kuzwayo
‘Happenstance’ – by Catherine Isaacs
‘A Rare Commodity’ – by Snethemba Makhoba
‘Happiness Is in the Eye of the Beholder’ – by Lettie Venter
‘Heroes Are Made, Not Chosen’ – by Natasha Biccard









These stories had good plotlines, well-rounded characters, and were thoroughly enjoyable to read.

‘What We Could Have Been’ - by Tumelo Ratladi
‘Addiction – a Love Story’ – by Paul Crafford
‘Illusion’ – by Ashley Fairfoot
‘A Tangle of Thorns’ – by Kurt Wessels
‘Saving Papa’ - by Irene Hazi
‘Haunted by Death’ - by Monique Brink
‘The City of My Silent Tongue’ - by Mjele Msimang
‘Mozart Fried in Butter’ - by Roger Seeman
‘I Do Not Kill for Nothing’ - by Shenaaz Msusa
‘Peace’ - by Niketa Maureen Arnoldus
‘A Horse Named Donkey’ - by Gene Moerdyk
‘Give That Man a Bells’ - by Anthony Louis von Zeil
‘The Way Back Home’ - by Bongile Tyopo
‘Like Rabbit, Like Crocodile’ - by Rebecca Sekgoele
‘My Grandma Always Said’ - by Courteney






Honourable Mention

These pieces held our attention with their good story-telling.


‘My Son the Politician’ - by Joline Young
‘Beneath the Cedar’ – by Arshad Rahim
‘A Belated Sacrifice’ - by Ntanganedzeni Ramugondo
‘In Return’ – by Theo H. Winterton
‘When Something Never Quite Happened’ - by Manola K. Gayatri
‘The Sign’ - by Louis Basson
‘Bucolic’ - by Mandla Dlali
‘No Matter the Cost’ – by Angel Steenberg
‘Cracks’ – by Riaan Hofmeyr
‘Another Word for a Funeral Is a Wake’ - by Johrene Hazel
‘This Day, and the Next’ - by Hermien Owens-Collins
‘R5 + Life = A Taxi Ride to Town’ - by Brent Poggenpoel
‘No Laughing Matter’ - by Susann Krüger
‘The Disconnect’ – by Edric Mazodze
‘The Glimpse’ – by Nashreen Seepersad
‘Monster in the Dark’ - by Siya Solitaire Ntsumpa
‘He Blinks in My Mind’ - by Madoda Gcwadi
‘Much Ado About Something’ - by Derek Reyneke
‘Dare Me Not to Dream’ - by Morema Mokgadi
‘Lucky Breaks’ - by Mike Job
‘The Zulu Love Potion’ - by Fisani Gumede
‘The Reservation’ - by Jonelle Phillips
‘The Near Demise of Miss Du Bois’ - by Julia McInnes

      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.

‘Marriages Are Made on Earth’ - by Janet Hart
‘Decisions’ - by Claudia Tsima
‘A Hundred Prayers to a Deaf God’ – by Karabo Mohapi
‘Queen of the Mountain’ – by Michaela Perkel
‘Ares Loved’ - by Milo Maia
‘Reunion’ - by Ronel Klatzkin (nee Zeff)
‘A Life Lesson’ - by Chérie van der Westhuizen
‘Messing with the Wedding’ - by Nikky Olivier
‘The Sunset Illusion’ - by Josh Raats
‘Something's Happened’ - by Sherelle Van Dyk
‘Peaks and Valleys’ - by Jonah Kollenberg
‘The Box’ – by Emill Steenkamp
‘Granddad Jerry’ - by Vadomen Ngomane
‘Incessant’ – by LJ Livesey
'Rough Night' - by Uthimna-Yena Kwatsha
‘I Don't Want to Make a Fuss’ - by Spencer Jones
‘The Nice Girl and the Stranger’ – by Simone le Roux
‘Heart on Strings’ - by Daniel Van Eck
‘Surprise’ – by Henri Schomper
‘The Stork’ - by Reginald Ridgard
‘Tears for Water’ - by Kirsten Kargaard
‘Louise’ - by Keila van Vuuren
‘Good Morning’ - by Thabang Shikishi
‘Thirty Days’ – by Hannelie Rix
‘An Ado About Amy’ - by Sally-Anne Viljoen
‘Flying the Coop’ – by Jo Grobler
‘The Oppressed’ - by Joy Adewumi
‘My Special Day’ - by Nazneen Adam
‘Chance’ - by Petro Nel
‘All That Glitters’ - by Lynne Moses
‘The Engagement Party’ -by Waseem Wadia
‘Graced After All’ - by Petru J Viljoen
‘Master and the Mere’ – by R.K. Andrew
‘The Inconsequentially Consequential Act of Chasing After One’s Sibling in the Supermarket’ - by Zoe Hanslo
‘The Celebration on the Hill’ - by Muleya Musonda
‘Just a Stain’ - by Jarryd Munslow
‘Tjie’ - by Ijeoma Sharon Adaugo Iroka
‘Blood Justice’ – by Charmaine Ncube
‘Room 27’ - by Carmen Riekert
‘For Not Talking’ - by Xola Stemele
‘A Deadly Seduction Analysis’ – by Senamile Sithole
‘Fear in the Life of the Illusive Black’ – by Litha Sipunzi
‘No not I’ – by Karen Downs
‘Nokhanya’ – by Mlambo Ntsako
‘Ernest the Dickhead’ – by Stephen Harrison
‘Who Made Me?’ – by Nokwazi Sangweni

Keep up the great writing! We look forward to hearing from you again for our 2019 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.

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 and Karen Jeynes.


First Place


'There's an App for That'

by Simon F. Ratcliffe

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 18/20
Originality 19/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 15/20
Characterization 17/20
Imagery and use of language 17/20
Overall gut response to story 18/20

TOTAL 104/120


Judges’ comments
  • The first paragraph is confusing, and I had to read this through twice to GET it, that it’s the devil talking, or rather the evil spirit behind the magic selfie stick. Then I thought, what a great idea, a whole new take on dealing with the devil, although the outcome isn’t too good for the unnamed hero. All the app abbreviations make this a bit disjointed in style but there’s some good imagery. And for the Peruvian Kayapo people, “akaron kaba” not only means “to take a photo” but it also means “to steal a soul.” Who would have known that little gem! Ginny
  • Very unusual use of second person gives the story and its grim first person narrator an unnerving closeness to the reader. Some excellent descriptions. Clever use of bite-sized comments on life string together perfectly to create an original  story with a twist about soulless social-media life. Alex
  • Highly original, pulls no punches in laying bare the vampire-like demands of social media. Told with razor-sharp wit and blindingly bleak, on-point humour. Andrew
  • This is very well written, it's an attention grabber, and it's very relatable and current. The progression of the story works well, and while we can see what's coming, it's still told in a compelling way and keeps us reading. Karen

Runner Up



'Hero's Brush With Mutiny'

by Amelia Warren

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 16/20
Originality 15/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 14/20
Characterization 15/20
Imagery and use of language 15/20
Overall gut response to story 16/20

TOTAL 91/120


Judges’ comments
  • This story encompassed a lot: while trying to report a smash and grab from her car we learn a lot about Claude and their relationship, and we are willing her to stay away and not return to all that grey air surrounding him. Good use of language and some great phrases which lift this one. Liked the way she identified with the paint brush thief, and was ready to forgive him. Ginny
  • Some good descriptions in this story in which a shattered window forces the narrator to reconsider her situation in the world. The abandoned paintbrush is perhaps a bit contrived. Alex
  • Accomplished intertwining of the drudgery and frustration of dealing with the aftermath of crime, with the disappointment and regret of a fragmenting intimate relationship. Andrew
  • This story wasn't like others I've read before, which is always good. I found it curious, and I feel like I need to think about it a lot, but nothing felt out of place or incongruous, and your lead character is beautifully realised. Karen

Third Place



'Mother Knows'

by Hendri Rhodes


Readability: Does it hold your attention? 15/20
Originality 13/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 15/20
Characterization 15/20
Imagery and use of language 17/20
Overall gut response to story 13/20

TOTAL 88/120


Judges’ comments
  • The mother from hell, but at least she has her attractive therapist so there is hope for her happiness in that direction! The writing is a bit over the top and frantic all round. Pay-off line didn’t connect to the rest of the story – there’s been no foreshadowing that their mother wanted another child or anything to relate to this. Ginny
  • Fascinating set-up with the narrator and her two relationships: one with the psychoanalyst and one with her mother. It has shades of a quirky French Art film to it, what with the 'carrier' walking around at the party. And although the mother's announcement is suitably shocking, the story doesn't quite come together as one might hope. The relationship with the therapist is forgotten. Perhaps it needs to be a longer story. Alex
  • A disarmingly candid and visceral glimpse into the psychological toll exacted by ruthlessly selfish parenting. Exceptional use of imagery throughout. Andrew
  • This storyteller has a great style and ease of writing. There's also a charming lead character. But I struggled with the plot - things felt uneasy from the beginning, with the idea of a therapist accompanying someone to a family event, so the big reveal didn't really work. I appreciate trying to tackle a different kind of story, but the shift here didn't seem natural. Karen


  • First Prize: R10 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: R 5 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: R 2 500.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


"Much ado about something"

Now closed for entries
Friday 25 May 2018
Friday 15 June 2018
SEND YOUR SUBMISSION TO: [email protected]



  • We 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 and non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). Journalists, copywriters or web writers must please not apply. People who made a living from writing at any point in their life (e.g. decades earlier) are also not eligible for entry. We make an exception for unpaid articles for community or work newsletters, or blogs, where the circulation is under 1000.
  • The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa over the age of 16.
  • 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. Writers must produce their own title.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 30 April 2018. The longlist will be published by 25 May, and the winners announced and displayed on our website on Friday 15 June.
  • 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.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • 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.
  • All submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer: [email protected]
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within three working days, please contact us as 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.

  • 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.
  • Each story must have a unique title. Do not use the theme as your title.
  • Your email must state the name of your story, as well as your story title. E.g. 'Once Upon a Time' - by Tumi Solomon
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use a font such as 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:


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

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

Karen Jeynes Award-winning playwright Karen Jeynes has written several plays and TV series. Read more here > Andrew-Salomon Andrew Salomon has published several novels and has won the PEN/ Studzinski literary award. Find out more about him here >


Read past winners stories for some inspiration

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