We’re delighted to announce this year’s winning stories for the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize. The stories were chosen by our fantastic judging panel including writers Rebecca Burns, Laura Besley and Reshma Ruia.
Around 300 entries were received from across the UK in the sixth year of the prize, open to published and unpublished writers, for a short story of up to 3500 words on any theme or subject. All entries were judged anonymously.
Judges were impressed by the outstanding quality of entries received.
The winning stories in this year’s competition are:
1st prize: ‘On Tuesdays I Clean the House’ by Joe Bedford
2nd prize: ‘Maybe Baby’ by Dianne Bown-Wilson
3rd prize: ‘Before the White Elephant’ by Ivan Richardson
Twenty short stories which feature on this year’s longlist will be published in an anthology and launched on Saturday 24 September as part of our Short Story September celebrations.
It has again been a privilege to be Chair of Judges for this year’s competition. As ever, my fellow judges and I were impressed at the quality of stories on the long list. It was a difficult but rewarding job to whittle the stories down to a short-list, and even harder to select the winners! “On Tuesdays I Clean the House” is beautiful in its understated complexity and lead the reader, gently, through the tangled path that is grief. So many sentiments explored in the story will resonate with readers, and I highly commend the tender way the writer handled the subject matter. “Maybe Baby” was similarly sensitive, bringing to light a part of motherhood that is often suppressed. The story really shone and the judges and I were impressed with the unflinching, yet never brutal, exploration of its subject. “Before the White Elephant” is also a study of a darker part of human nature, plunging the reader into the protagonist’s mindset as he wrestled with the consequences of his actions – another story very well done.
So many stories could have made the top 3 list, or been included in the short-list. This is testament to the time writers have taken over their words. But we have to pick winners, and we have selected stories that sing. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did.
I’ve absolutely loved judging the Leicester Writes short story competition. It’s been exciting and fascinating to see what writers can do with both form and language. For me the winning story, ‘On Tuesday I Clean the House’, stood out immediately as a wonderful mix of an old theme, mixed with something new, told in a beautiful way. ‘Maybe Baby’ had me on the edge of my seat throughout wondering how the main character would solve her dilemma and the author certainly didn’t disappoint. ‘Before the White Elephant’ was a deft drip feed of details until the big reveal at the end – it read like a distilled noir crime thriller. All three of the winning stories are completely different, but that is the joy of the short story form: anything is possible.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the judging process of the Leicester Writes short story competition. The short story as a form can be challenging and it was exciting to read the range of talent and interpretation. The standard was consistently high and it was not easy to select the winners. The winning story, ‘On Tuesdays I Clean the House’, was a subtle exploration of grief with nuanced language. It stood out for its skilful use of language and imagery. ‘Maybe Baby’ had an exciting pace and an original take on conflict and choice. The final winning entry, ‘Before the White Elephant’ gripped me with its impending sense of menace and the psychological study of its main protagonist. Each story had its own distinctive rhythm and pace and showed the incredible possibilities that lie within this genre.