2020 Results

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s winning stories for the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize. The winning stories were chosen by our fantastic judging panel, which includes writers Rebecca Burns, Selma Carvalho and Mark Newman.

The winning stories in this year’s competition are:

1st prize: ‘Dissolution’ by Dan Powell

2nd prize: ‘The Taste of Sugar’ by Joe Bedford

3rd prize:  ‘Not Entirely True’ by Alison Woodhouse

Honorable mention: ‘Swimming Against the Tide’ by Claire Sheret

Over 165 entries were received from across the UK in the fourth year of the prize, open to published and unpublished writers, for a short story of up to 3000 words on any theme or subject. All entries were judged anonymously.

Judges praised the exceptional quality of entries received this year. Rebecca Burns, chair of judges said: “The standard of story-writing was yet again impressive and made the job of shortlisting and picking the eventual winners a delight, challenging, and a lot of fun.

“I’d like to thank all the writers who sent their stories in, for trusting us with their words. We all felt that ‘Dissolution’ was a well-deserved winner – the story is poignant, beautifully paced, had great depth and pathos, and will speak to many of us during this strange time, as we try to work out which direction our lives will go in.

“The Taste of Sugar was a well-worked piece of historical fiction and I liked the linking of place to emotion. We all know the experience of tasting something and being taken back to a particular time and place, and the story captured this well. ‘Not Entirely True’ was a well-worked tale of intrigue and dark secrets. The motivation of the characters was clear and, as a reader, I felt empathetic with their choices – this isn’t always easy to pull off, so well done.

“So well done, all, and well done to everyone giving it a go and taking part. You never know if your story will strike a chord with a judge, and I’d encourage everyone trying to decide if they should enter a competition or not to give it a go.”

Mark Newman said: “Dissolution, for me, was an easy winner. Precise, beautiful writing and some wonderful scenes and images. A skilfully paced and judged story that bears multiple readings. I’ve already read it twice since the judging process finished. 

“The Taste of Sugar is a beautifully structured, original and melancholy reminiscence of an international love affair. I would love to read a companion piece from Milena’s perspective. ‘Not Entirely True’ keeps its eye on its structure throughout, it is paced well and is a troublesome and dark tale. Several of the longlisted stories were beautifully written but tailed away a little at the end but the top three authors are all in control of the pace of their story and have the end goal in sight. 

I liked Annie instantly in ‘Swimming Against the Tide’. She’s a beautifully drawn character. Perhaps it says too much about me that I would have liked a darker ending, perhaps a slightly ambiguous one, with Annie left out at sea. From the longlisted stories I really loved ‘Steel Hearts’, an impressive futuristic tale with some clever ideas and a male character name that furrows your brow for a moment, then seems entirely perfect. It could equally have been the opening chapter of a novel and had it been I would have definitely read on.

Selma Carvalho said: “Apart from ‘Dissolution’ which proved once again why a strong beginning and an equally strong ending continues to be crucial to short story writing, I was particularly fond of ‘Swimming Against the Tide’ for its beautiful use of language which veined through the story.”