THE SA WRITERS COLLEGE
2021 Annual Short Story Competition
For Emerging Writers in South Africa
We are thrilled to announce our winners for
the 2021 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.
Striking, fresh, bold and audaciously creative:
each of the winning stories was an
inventive interpretation of this year’s theme:
‘You Only Live Once’.
‘We Ate His Bowels First’ – by Gabisile Shabangu
‘A Crumpled R10 Note and a Bloody Hand’ – by Vuyiswa Kubalasa
‘Wild Ponies & Pink Flamingos’– by Kea Isaacs
In fourth place is ‘Seventeen’, written by Mia Uys, and fifth place is awarded to Clive Ritchie for ‘The Puzzle Bush’.
Congratulations on a magnificent achievement.
Read the judges’ comments, as well as the text of the top three stories below the Highest Honours, Honours, Honourable Mention and ‘More Stories We Loved’ results lists.
A special word of thanks to our short story judges: Keletso Mopai, Taki Scordis, Fiona Ingram and Andrew Salomon.
These stories narrowly missed inclusion in the top five.
The characters were authentic and memorable. Plotlines were generally plausible, exciting and unpredictable, and the manuscripts were polished.
In no particular order:
‘Vertigo’ – by Craig Ambrose
‘I Am Nice’ – by Avuyile Conjwa
‘All Our Pieces’ – by Lynique Krüger
‘Blink’ – by Lynne Moses
‘Manifest’ – by Teliza Vorster
‘Day One’ – by Yannis Verkes
‘Lucas Lamborghini’ – by Brian Wryter
‘Heart of Gould’ – by Sadie M Reddy
‘The Wings of the Heart’ – by Kate Steinke
‘Pulse’ – by Anneke Theron
‘Closeted’ – by Francois Wiid
‘One Important Detail’ – by Thabiso Morelo
‘Clouds Turn to Lead’ – by Tash Taylor Garisch
‘On a Rainy Day’ – by Abdul Isaacs
‘Dimensiona’ – by Jessica Hassiotis
‘Play Dead’ – by Michael Pettit
‘Obituary Column Game’ – by Peter Hood
‘Cold Tea’ – by Malika Kahn
‘Breaking Free’ – by Alice Shaw
‘The King’s Hotel’ – by Preston Nimmons
Good storytelling and enjoyable reading. Some good imagery and description. For the most part, the writing is not forced or contrived, and falls within the literary fiction genre that our competition prefers.
In no particular order:
‘A 10-minute Lifetime’ – by Mikyle Paulsen
‘Driven’ – by Elmarie Kotzé
‘Mind the Foxes’ – by Willem Jonck
‘The Paper Sleepwalker’ – by Cebo Hadebe
‘The Reluctant Askari’ – by Thabelo Mulenga
‘Close Encounter with a Satyre’ – by Ross Ian Fleming
‘Angel of Death’ – by Angus Olivier
‘Unlife’ – by Warren C. Furst
‘#livingmybestlife’ – by Samantha Griebenow
‘Nevermore’ – by Sean Cameron
Excellent writing showcases attention to detail, and characters and plot that are original, imaginative and bold. Next year we’d like to see these promising authors move up the results ladder.
In no particular order:
‘The Gambler’ – by Maryke de Witt
‘Enouement’ – by Lonie Ngowam
‘Alter-Nate’ – by Linda Buckle
‘Adam and Eve’ – by Sarah Makayla Naidoo
‘Uthango’ – by Dineo Mashishi
‘Perspective’ – by Kiara Naidoo
‘A Case of Money’ – by Sandra Kleinlugtenbelt
‘Misty Weather and Marshmallows’ – by Christelle Engelbrecht
‘Inconsolable’ – by Prenesa Naidoo
‘Waking Up Real’ – by Claire de Wet
‘Spilt Spliff’ – by Bradley Baxter
‘Supernova’ – by Azraa Parak
‘Fight Like a Girl’ – by Nabihah Plaatjes
‘My Truth Is Your Lie’ – by Heather Metelerkamp
‘Blackout’ – by Anonymous
‘Limits’ – by Anel Niemand
‘Bearing It Like a Woman’ – by Samantha Weale
‘A Dangerous Game’ – by Jean Hattingh
‘When I Met Myself That Day’ – by Petra Deangelo
‘Climbing Over Your Stones’ – by Abigale Fisher
MORE STORIES WE LOVED
In no particular order:
‘Pearls Before Swine’ – by Joyce Dawn Woods
‘A Stone Roll Away’ – by Polite Mmadikole Matjila
‘A Mother’s Love from a Mother’s House’ – by Nikkia Naidoo
‘The Samsara of Arn Parker’ – by Callvern Harding
‘The Holy Ones Live Forever’ – by Lerato Mahlangu
‘The Jump’ – by Alain Appolis
‘You Only Die Thrice’ – by Barry Ger
‘Solis’ – by Gustav Kotze
‘Second Chance’ – by Rob Machin
‘A Broken Home’ – by Vanya Blignaut
‘The Train’ – by Hannah Mackay
‘Grandad, Who Died, Long Before He Passed Away’ – by Tammy Pieterson
‘Finding Solace in Three Parts’ – by Anupa Gnawali
‘Dying to Live’ – by Michael Smit
‘Woman in Blue’ – by Liezl Phillips
‘Life’s Paintings’ – by Clarissa Williams
‘Chinaman’ – by Dominic Adendorff
‘Picture Perfect’ – by Kirsten Baldwin
‘The Burning Shore’ – by Roy Bridge
‘Between Friends’ – by Lesego Ntsoele
‘Relapse’ – by Keshav Maharaj
‘When You’re Ready’ – by Meraldi du Toit
‘The Visitor’ – by Reratilwe Natasha Seloane
‘Only Do Not Leave Me’ – by Caitlin Hancocks
‘Stroke of Fate’ – by Robby Sibuyi
‘One of Willpower’ – by Wendy Frick
‘Lightness of Being’ – by Zolie Markey
‘The Gravity of Things’ – by Tianette Booysen
‘Because You Never Truly Die’ – by Rebecca Stevens
‘Front Seat’ – by Ijeoma Iroka
‘The Anomaly’ – by Mpumi Buthelezi
‘Dragon Dance’ – by Kathryn Tertia Fautley
‘Miss Fortune Duels Lady Luck’ – by Espē Paterson
‘Till Next Time, God Bless’ – by Reaobaka Tlala
‘Taxi to Sandton’ – by Bontle Kubaye
‘Brown Girls’ – by Firdaus Alli
‘At the End of the Hallway’ – by Neema Masinde
‘My One’ – by Tanyaradza Kaseke
‘The African Female Farmer’ – by Mphodisa Kekana
‘The Parable of Problems’ – by Aubrey Makhubela
‘The Wages of Bickering’ – by Raymond Hattingh
A big well done to all 556 entrants this year. The standard was higher than ever, with much jostling for those top places. We would love to see you back again for the 2022 competition.
The judges’ ratings and comments for the top three stories
A huge thank you to our judges this year: Fiona Ingram, Keletso Mopai, Andrew Salomon and Taki Scordis.
- This story is original and one for horror fans. The core theme of the story was gripping in that the ‘primordial monster’ found itself being manipulated by the victim who then became the victor, turning it to her own ends. However, the language was heavy on description, which weighed the narrative down. Repetition of words became tedious. In this case, less would have been more chilling and effective. Fiona Ingram
- I enjoyed the writing style. The story was captivating and well narrated. However, the writing felt redundant towards the end because some of the words were repeated. Nonetheless, a brilliant idea delivered stunningly. I loved it. Keletso Mopai
- This story sustains an unflinchingly ominous atmosphere through the narrators’ menacing language. Andrew Salomon
- A wonderful title; a fantastic first line! A dark story that is written with a strong and beautiful command of the craft. This was a non-linear plot pulled off with exceptional skill. The author was unwilling to reveal benign and mundane details, which made this text so intricate and compelling to read. In my opinion, a deserved winner! Taki Scordis
- This story held me riveted from start to finish! I could not read fast enough. The writer draws the reader in right next to the main character and explores a deadly fear so prevalent in SA today. I was gripped by the rising fear and choking panic that turned her reality into a nightmare of hideous proportions. The phantasmagoria of imagined horrific events was so vivid! A brilliant story. A perfect ending. Very well done! Fiona Ingram
- An ambitious story that highlights the brutal and yet common life for women and girls, ekasi; a necessary story. At some point the narrator mentions something about being dressed properly and yet receiving uninvited eyes or ogling; I found that quite disturbing because that leans towards rape culture language, and I hope the writer will be able to see that and improve. Other than that, a powerful and beautiful story. Keletso Mopai
- A very accomplished contemporary exploration of the terrible power of fear, especially how it can distort reality. The author manages to sustain a considerable level of tension throughout this well written and memorable story. Andrew Salomon
- A fascinating character that endures what it means to be a woman in South Africa, faced with the harsh realities of the world we currently live in. There is a lot to admire about this writer, who has shown great skill in developing a strong and relatable protagonist. Taki Scordis
- A bitter-sweet theme that many people will understand; the death of the dream, the glamour unmasked, the stale ending of a relationship, the desperate clinging to words now meaningless. I enjoyed the imagery very much but felt that there was just too much and wished the writer had focused more on the characters than the images. At times, the story came across as brittle and superficial with no real resolution. Fiona Ingram
- The writer woos the reader from the first sentence and keeps them to the very end with an interesting story about a married couple. The writing was clever, enchanting, and engaging. I enjoyed it a lot. Keletso Mopai
- A fine example of how sensual writing can draw a reader deep into a character’s experience, as well as a touching illumination of the painful moment when a relationship’s steady dissolution has to be acknowledged. Andrew Salomon
- A broken tale of two people at the end of their relationship. This story is wonderful in its uniqueness with shifting perspectives between ‘him’ and’ her’. However, what makes this story so enjoyable and easy to read is also its downfall. Love is a tangled theme to explore in such a short space of time, but the author does well given the format. Taki Scordis
- 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
Fiona Ingram [BA Hons (Natal), MA (Wits)] is a multi-award winning author of adult and children’s fiction. She has written eight historical romances (published by USA publisher Bublish), including Married at Midnight, The Wayward Miss Wainwright and Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball.
Her interest in myths and legends, ancient history and travel led to her writing the multi-award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. This is the first instalment of her children’s adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has now completed Book Four in the series. Through her novels, she takes youngsters all over the world on amazing adventures.
She is also an animal rights advocate and writes animal rescue stories.
Andrew Salomon is an award-winning author. His debut novel Tokoloshe Song was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award.
Additionally, his short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He has also received the PEN Literary Award for African Fiction and the Short.Sharp.Stories Award.
Andrew is the author of the young adult thrillers The Chrysalis and Wonderbear. His latest novel is the dark fantasy thriller The Equilibrist. He completed an MA at the Institute for Archaeology at University College London. Some of his most memorable experiences have been at rock painting and engraving sites in subterranean caves and shelters across the world. These often find their way into his fiction.
Keletso Mopai is a South African storyteller and qualified geologist. She is among the 2020 Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans. Her work has been published by highly regarded journals such as Catapult, Joburg Noir, Ake Review, The Johannesburg Review of Books, Lolwe, The Temz Review, Omenana Magazine, Brittle Paper, Sunday Times, The Kalahari Review, The Ebedi Review, DRUM, Praxis Magazine, African Writer, and among others. Her debut collection of short stories titled If You Keep Digging was published in 2019 by BlackBird Books; the book made the Brittle Paper Top Debut Books of 2019. Mopai’s short stories have made finalists for The Writivism Short Story Prize, The Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction, The Africa Book Club Competition, and The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction. She has participated in writing workshops such as the Short Story Day Africa Flow Workshop and the Writivism Mentorship Program. She was an invited speaker at the 2019 Open Book Festival, the Abantu Book Festival, Time of The Writer Literary Festival, South African Cities Network’s Urban Festival, and the South African Book Fair. Keletso studied geology and chemistry, and has a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Geology.
Taki Scordis is the winner of the 2020 short story competition and has been shortlisted three times. He has written four novels, has an MA in Creative Writing (Wits) and is currently completing his PhD in English studies (UP). He currently works in the English department at Unisa.
The Basics of Creative Writing Course
THEME FOR 2021:
You Only Live Once
22 May 2021
12 June 2021
- 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 enter. 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.
- All submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer: Nichola@sawriterscollege.co.za
- The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa aged 16 and over.
- 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. Each story must include the phrase ‘You Only Live Once’ somewhere in the story. 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 2021. The longlist will be published by 22 May, and the winners announced and displayed on our website on Friday 12 June 2021.
- 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 the copyright to the story submitted.
- Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be published on our website and in an anthology.
- The judges’ decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
- 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.
The Short Story Writing for Magazines Course
- Only e-mail submissions are acceptable. Stories must be copied and pasted into the body of the email, AND sent as a Word document attachment. 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 title of your story, as well as your name. E.g. ‘Once Upon a Time’ – by John Smith
- Your email must include the declaration: ‘I declare that I have been published in a mainstream print or online publication fewer than four times.’
- State your word count in your email.
- 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:
The Literary Short and Flash Fiction Course
Download our Free Anthologies
You can download our free anthologies by clicking on the covers below. We showcase the winning stories from the past ten years (2008-2017).
We will publish Vol.3 in 2022
The Write a Novel Course
Past Winners of the SA Writers College Short Story Competition
We would like to acknowledge the past winners of our Short Story Competitions.
First Place: ‘The Moot Mulatto’ by Taki Scordis
Runner-up: ‘Misstep’ by Stephen Harrison
Third place: ‘Unfinished Business’ by Jessica Spyker
First Place: ‘Tulbagh By Gaslight’ by S.F. Ratcliffe
Runner-up: ‘Sit Down; You’re Brown’ by Javi Reddy
Third place: ‘Record Cards’ by Merle Grace
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
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
First Place: ‘My Mother Takes One Look at Me and Gives Me Away’ by Bruce McKenzie
Runner-up: ‘And the Meek’ by Matthew Child
Third place: ‘The High Road Less Travelled’ by Les Hellmann
First Place: ‘An Anniversary, Shaded’ by Duncan Aird
Runner-up: ‘Rembrandt’ by Ian Sutherland
Third place: ‘The Exchange’ by Natanja Greeff
First Place (Literary Fiction): ‘That Night’ by Melita Vurden
First Place (Popular Fiction): ‘The First Time’ by Mike Forde
Runner-up (Literary Fiction): ‘Death and Sandwiches’ by Gina Kukard
Runner-up (Popular Fiction): ‘On the Way Home’ by Natisha Parsons
First Place: ‘Food for Thought’ by Carla Lever
Runner-up: ‘Wholesale’ by Liam Kruger
Third place: ‘Sleeping Dogs’ by Eleanor Talbot
First Place: ‘Go’ by Aname van Zyl
Runner-up: ‘Tune in Again Next Week’ by Carla Lever
Third place: ‘A Gambling Man’ by B. L. Calder
First Place: ‘The Tokoloshe’ by Hannah Green
Runner-up: ‘Watching Sunsets we Never See’ by Shelley Blignaut
Joint Third place: ‘Final Disposition’ by Jessica Liebenberg
First Place: ‘Line of Sight’ by Arthur Bacchus
Runner-up: ‘Board and Lodging’ by William Oosthuizen
Third place: ‘The Colours of Choice’ by Ann Kern
First Place: ‘Martin Mandel’s Parabola’ by Ashley Symes
Runner-up: ‘Pieces of Peony-Painted Teacups’ by Shelley Blignaut
Third place: ‘A New Life’ by Grant Griffiths
First Place: ‘Waitin’ For Fuzzy’ by Ross Ian Fleming
Runner-up: ‘Writer’s Block’ by Widaad Munga
Third place: ‘The Yellow Coat’ by Katja Abbott