SA Writers' College | 2014 Short Story Competition Winners


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 List, Honourable Mention List and a 'more stories we loved' list. Well done to all our entrants this year for setting the bar so high.

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

First Place | Popular Fiction: Mike Ford 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'

Fourth place is awarded to Zainub E Dala for 'Room Number 25', and fifth place goes to Liz Dewing for 'Restitution'.
Our top five stories had that winning 'presence' we look for in SA Writers' College short stories: originality, authenticity, unpretentious writing, believable characters and this year, unusual storylines.






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




Honourable Mention


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


More stories we loved:

‘Doing the Right Thing’ by Leila Shadow; ‘A Room with a View’ by Jan Bowley; ‘My Grandfather’s Story’ by Adheesh Budree; ‘City of Gold’ by Anjuli Maistry; ‘The Nut-gathering Habits of Eco’ by Greig Douglas; ‘Change’ by Liezl Durie; ‘My Sisi’ by Andiswa Maqutu; ‘Thabo’ by Nkhensani Chimuse; ‘Hunting Knife’ by Kim Muller; ‘So Long  Sam’ by Annemarie van Basten; ‘Mazibuko and Others v City of Johannesburg and Others’ by Anita Vilaas; ‘Dark Wings’ by Kristien Wolmarans; ‘The Rover’ by Jacques Nel; ‘Night, Night Dot Reigh’ by Jade du Randt; ‘Defending Health with Military Precision’ by Theesan Vedan; ‘A Good Way to go Mad’ by Dione Choto; ‘5th Floor’ by Marie Claire Pierce; ‘Happy Ending’ by Louis Wiid; ‘Genie’ by Ramona Chetty; ‘Bogeymen’ by Varsha Patel; ‘Downtown Cinderella’ by Ilze Ludick; ‘Abuse’ by Cris Berry; ‘How Barry didn’t Survive’ by Megan Furniss;  ‘What is the right thing to do anyway?’ By Varsha Lalla; ‘Destiny’ by Chenél Pieterse-Boyle; ‘The Picnic’ by Nick de Pomeroy-Legg; ‘A Coat of Many Colours’ by William Oosthuizen; ‘Behind the White Line’ by Chelsea Haith

We look forward to hearing from you again in 2015.

The judges’ ratings and comments for the top five 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 Fordread-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 focussed 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 it had some structural flaws with the sudden and unnecessary 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. Some of the "Africanisms" were misspelt, and came across as pretentious. 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 a excellently crafted tale. Karen

PRIZES: by bennyyap
  • First Prize: R 5 000.00 plus entry into one of our short courses
  • Second Prize: R2 000.00
  • People's Choice Award R 2000.00

Top five entries will be published on our college site and the top five winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


THEME:  Doing the Right Thing



  • 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.
  • We aim to support and acknowledge beginner writers, so we only accept stories from writers who have been published fewer than four times in any genre, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). This does not include articles for community or work newsletters where the circulation is under 1000.
  • 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.
  • All submissions must be sent to Nichola Meyer: [email protected]



  • Your first page of your Word document must include the story title, your name, 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.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”.

Archives View our Archived Competition Entries Here


THE JUDGES: Our panel of judges for 2014 include Andrew Salomon, Alex Smith, Karen Jeynes, Fiona Ingram, Maya Fowler  and Nichola Meyer.


Alex Smith is the author of three novels, Algeria's Way and Drinking from the Dragon's Well, both published by Random House Umuzi. Drinking from the Dragon's Well was long-listed for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. Four Drunk Beauties, her third novel, was published by Umuzi in 2010.

Alex has had many short stories published in anthologies and journals. Her short story 'Buffalo Panting at the Moon’ was short-listed for the 2007 SA PEN Literary Awards. Most recently her writing appeared in Touch, along with other SA writers, including Henrietta Rose-Innes, Damon Galgut, Andre Brink, and Nadine Gordimer.

Alex was shortlisted for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. She won a silver award at the 2010 Sanlam Youth Literature Awards and has been nominated for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing. Most recently her latest novel, Four Drunk Beauties, won the Nielsen sponsored 2011 Bookseller's Choice Award.

Karen Jeynes has an Honours Degree in the Art of Writing and is currently pursuing her Masters in Adapting Austen for the Stage at UWC. Her plays include "Getting There", "Laying Blame", "sky too big", "I'll have what she's having", "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee", and the multi award-winning "Everybody Else (is Fucking Perfect)". Her adaptation of Thomas Rapakgadi's "The Purse is Mine" aired on Bush Radio, and Safm has featured her series "Office Hours" co-written with Nkuli Sibeko, as well as the radio version of "sky too big". She also writes for SABC,and is currently on the writing team for Thabang Thabong and other works in planning.

Her teenage novels, Jacques Attack (co-authored with Nkuli Sibeko) and Flipside, co-authored with Eeshaam September, were released by New Africa Books. She has a children's story published in the new anthology "Metz and Bop and other stories".

Karen also freelances for online and print media, and lectures and consults in Digital Culture and playwrighting.





  • The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa over the age of 16.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 31 March 2013, and winners will be announced and displayed on our web site by 30 April 2013.
  • 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 mail 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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