SA Writers' College | 2014 Short Story Competition


2014 Annual Short Story Award




The Winners


Congratulations to our top-placed winners in the 2014 SA Writers' College Short Story Competition. The judges' comments and ratings follow below, as well as our Honours, Honourable Mention and a 'More stories we loved' list.

What a wonderful experience judging the refreshing, quality stories this year: brimful of originality and excellence. For some entrants, it's the seventh year that they have submitted a story, and with each subsequent entry these writers inch closer to the top. Others are newcomers, and have jumped straight into the winning categories. Well done to all of you!

First Place | Literary Fiction: Melita Vurden for 'That Night'

First Place | Popular Fiction: Mike Forde for 'The First Time'


Runner-up | Literary Fiction: Gina Kukard for 'Death and Sandwiches'

Runner-up | Popular Fiction: Natisha Parsons for 'On the Way Home'


Third and fourth place in the literary category were awarded as follows:
‘Lifesaver’ – by Catherine Jarvis*
‘The Feeding Association’ – by Chelsea Haith*
‘Give and Take’ – by Ian Sutherland                      
* These stories shared third place.
The popular fiction category saw these writers in third, fourth and fifth place:
‘The Cycle’ – by Erika Frouws
‘One Good Turn’ – by Nick Legg
‘Givers and Takers’ - by Malini Mohana





Congratulations to our writers of an Honours Award. These stories narrowly missed making the top five.

‘The Gift’ – by Duncan Aird
‘Mum’s the Word’ – by Carla Lever
‘Under the Spitting Buck Tree’ – by Ramona Chetty
‘Nkandla’ – by John Keith Alexander Holland
‘Burnout’ – by Fiona Coward
‘Marjorie’s Dead’ – by Andrew Verster
‘My Uncle Daniel’ - by Kamo Mamabolo
‘Quantum Entanglement’ – by Tom Szendrei



Honourable Mention


These writers receive an Honourable Mention for stories that were well-written and enjoyable to read.

‘Learning to Fly’ – by Willemien Jansen
‘Givers and Takers’ – by Roger Stonehouse
‘That Morning Sunrise’ – by Darrel Hofland
‘Shattered Puzzles’ - by Sumayya Soni
‘Midnight’ - by Brandel Maneveld
‘No Boundaries’ - by Khethiwe Dlamini
‘Story Time’ - by Irene Hazi
‘In the Name of the Father’ – by Lesego Jack
‘Sesotho Samurai in Bloemfontein’ – by Werner Schmidt
‘Perception’ – by Bob Stanton
‘Pop on a Monday Morning’ – by Orry Messer
‘The Baker’s Secret’ – by The Pagelord
‘Quick Payback’ – by Raymond Hattingh

More stories we loved:

‘Shades of Love’ by Khatija Essa; ‘Reflection’ by Liz Dewing; ‘Fate Turns on a Sixpence’ by P J Schofield; ‘An Act of Choice’ by Reshni Singh; ‘Rust’ by Emmay Golding; ‘Dust’ by Liezl Durie; ‘Fallen Coconuts’ by Andile Matomela; ‘Serendipity’ by Donna Mokae; ‘The Raleigh 3-Speed Bicycle’ by Dirk van der Merwe; ‘Silent Night’ by Suenel Bruwer Holloway; ‘Mr Msomi Accused’ by Jean Thomassen

Thank you to all our entrants for making the competition such a huge success. We look forward to hearing from you again in 2015.


The judges’ ratings and comments for the top four stories

A huge thank you to our judges this year: Andrew Salomon, Alex Smith, Maya Fowler, Karen Jeynes, Nichola Meyer and Fiona Ingram


First Place | Literary Fiction

That Night

by read-the-winning-entry-hereMelita Vurden

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 12/15
Originality 11/15
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 11/15
Characterization 12/15
Imagery and use of language 13/15
Overall gut response to story 12/15

TOTAL 71/90
Judges’ comments
  • Confident and immersive writing with dialogue that rings true and excellent flow that boldly pulls the reader along with the action. Andrew
  • Insightful, vivid and very real with a clear and compelling storyline. Excellent writing. Opening perhaps slightly confusing - Ma is never mentioned again, maybe at the very end Ma could make a brief return? Alex
  • This story speaks of the extreme optimism and carelessness that characterises youth. It is the kind of optimism that leads people into dangerous situations without a second thought. "That Night" takes stock, with a shudder, of such an event. Well-written action. Maya

First Place | Popular Fiction

The First Time

by Mike Forderead-the-winning-entry-here

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 15/15
Originality 15/15
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 14/15
Characterization 13/15
Imagery and use of language 13/15
Overall gut response to story 14/15

TOTAL 84/90

Judges’ comments
  •  I loved this piece. It was quirky, kept me hooked, and I enjoyed the naivete of the main character. Nichola
  • A delight to read. The protagonist's imagination drew me in. A coming-of-age tale that is common enough but unique in this telling. Lovely imagery placed me at the island setting. Touches of humour and the Bond references enjoyable. Slight grammar and punctuation errors did not distract. Well done! Fiona
  • This story is well rendered; we know where it is leading yet it takes us there in a way which is entertaining throughout. The style of storytelling is entirely appropriate to the subject, and the result is captivating. Karen
Runner Up | Literary Fiction

Death and Sandwiches

by Gina Kukard    


Readability: Does it hold your attention? 12/15
Originality 14.5/15
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 10.5/15
Characterization 9.5/15
Imagery and use of language 10.5/15
Overall gut response to story 12/15

TOTAL 69/90

Judges’ comments
  •  A highly original and enjoyable story with well-timed humour. Andrew
  •  Has a wonderful 'Beetlejuice' quirkiness and lovely sense of humour. The concept of the chain letter is a real gem - brilliant! That could be developed further or at least more focused on - it gets slightly lost amongst all the other antics. Didn't buy the Ms Schoemann character and the ending doesn't work for this reader. However, apart from the disappointing end the story has huge potential and was a delight to read. Alex
  • I enjoyed the absurdity and black humour of this story, with its underlying image of "a few sandwiches short of a picnic". Maya
Runner Up | Literary Fiction

On the Way Home

by Natisha Parsons


Readability: Does it hold your attention? 13.5/15
Originality 12.5/15
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 10.5/15
Characterization 12.5/15
Imagery and use of language 12/15
Overall gut response to story 14/15

TOTAL 75/90

Judges’ comments
  •  I really liked this story, although for me it had some structural flaws with the sudden change in point of view near the end. The writing also seemed strained in places, as though the author was struggling to create an authentic African feel to the story. This is unfortunate, as this story has a definite sparkle. Nichola
  •  A really lovely story but marred by lack of punctuation and indents, overuse of line breaks and elements that could so easily have been corrected. This was really distracting. Otherwise a sad tale, so familiar in SA, but with a fortuitous ending arranged by fate to rectify people's errors. Very enjoyable. Fiona
  • The metaphor of the journey is artfully employed, and the imagery conjured is really wonderful. The ending and shift of narrator is well executed; this is an excellently crafted tale. Karen

  • First Prize (Literary Category): R 5 000.00
  • First Prize (Popular Fiction Category): R 5000.00
  • Second Prize (Literary Category): R 1500.00
  • Second Prize (Popular Fiction Category): R 1500.00

Archives View our Archived Competition Entries Here


THE JUDGES: Our panel of judges for 2014 are the award-winning writers Maya Fowler, Andrew Salomon, Alex Smith, Karen Jeynes and Fiona Ingram, as well as Nichola Meyer.

Maya-lb Maya Fowler

Andrew-Salomon-lb Andrew Salomon

Alex Smith letterbox Alex Smith

Karen Jeynes letterbox Karen Jeynes

Fiona-Ingram-lb Fiona Ingram



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