2023 Results

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 Joe Bedford and Mona Dash.

Around 250 entries were received from across the UK in the sixth year of the prize, open to published and unpublished writers, for a short story of up to 3,500 words on any theme or subject.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: A Form of Freedom by Laura Coleman

2nd prize: She Went There for the Weekend by Hannah Retallick

3rd prize: Your Own Abyss by Malina Douglas

Twenty short stories which feature on this year’s longlist will be published in an anthology and launched on Saturday 30 September as part of our Short Story September celebrations.

Judges report

Joe Bedford

It was a pleasure to read and reflect upon every single story on this year’s Leicester Writes longlist. Within those twenty stories we found a range of forms, genres and voices, as well as the unconventional, the uncategorisable and the imaginative. In the end, choosing a winner and two runner-ups was extremely difficult, but for me it was that commitment to imaginative storytelling that shone through. In ‘Your Own Abyss’, the figurative, the dream-like and the emotional come together to help build a powerful allegorical reflection on the creative spirit. In ‘She Went There for the Weekend’, an inventive and subversive use of stream-of-consciousness narration is employed with daring and playfulness. And in our winner, ‘A Form of Freedom’, we are challenged to reimagine the conventions of freedom and causality through a story that is as emotive as it is accomplished. Congratulations to everybody on the longlist, whose work will form a fantastic anthology, and a special congratulations to our winning three. 

Mona Dash

A Form of Freedom: I loved the ambition of this short story and the fact that it didn’t follow the rules of a short story! Big theme about possibilities and how they can affect our lives. Love and death, and at the heart of it, the sorrow of a relationship not going that well.

She Went There for the Weekend: A powerful story that showed a destructive relationship, but without actually basing it in the relationship. I liked the way the language that started off patchy and how it gradually evened a little to show the mental frame of the protagonist .

Your Own Abyss: A beautifully written story in a second person POV which can be tricky at times. But here it’s been done skilfully. I loved that it told a story that has been told before, in a unique way and explores the interiority of the protagonist in a haunting way.