First Winner, 500-Word Challenge

Congratulations to Robin Rhyner – the first winner of the Waxings 500-word challenge with the superbly written and heart-wrenching ‘Not Christmas Lights’.

Robin, a copy of The Art of the Short Story, by Dana Gioia and RS Gwynn, will soon be winging its way towards you.

Respectful tips of the hat to each of the other entrants for submitting such varied and evocative works. You have set the bar high for this competition and I’m looking forward to reading more of your contributions. This is going to be good!

Warmest thanks to our first guest judge, Irene Wringe, who is a features editor of 20 years’ experience, has studied English literature and is a member of the Society of Editors. Irene was given only the titles and text of each entry, without author names, and agreed not to read the posted versions so was not aware of ‘likes’ or comments. See below for her thoughts on this round.

A reminder that the next challenge is now open. Write up to 500 words around the theme ‘night‘ and send them to by midnight, 4 February, 2011, Australian Western Standard Time (GMT+8).


Judge’s comments:

In a collection of short pieces, reflecting different genres, that show admirable creativity, imagination, verve and skill, choosing a winner was not a simple process. It has been both enjoyable and very difficult. How to compare thoughtful reflection to an uplifting poem or vivid characters in a short story?

After much thought (and mild frustration at not being able to name multiple winners) Not Christmas Lights gets my vote.

This small fiction conjures its scene vividly, the language and style – short, bleak evocations of reality interspersed with longer, detailed sentences of hope and warmth. It shows confidence in its expression and skill in its pacing, and is well put together.

It uses the short form to effectively portray an image of dysfunctional family life with skill and in a manner that made me care about every character on the page. This is no mean feat in less than 500 words. None is wasted, from the first paragraph, which plunges the reader straight into the children’s world, to the heart-tugging end.


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2 Responses to First Winner, 500-Word Challenge

  1. tamarahunter says:

    Fantastic choice, Irene. Robin, a masterly evocation which looked at that other side of the holiday season – the less than pristine one which is the reality for so many. Superbly done – congratulations.

    And Carina – congratulations on providing such a fabulous first challenge. What a great forum you have begun x

  2. Robin Rhyner says:

    Thank you so much!

    Irene, I appreciate so much your encouraging comments. It’s amazing how some meaningful, positive feedback makes me want to write so much more!

    Carina, what an amazing opportunity for us writers to be able to share our work and enjoy the work of others. It was a great experience to see all the different viewpoints on the holiday theme and bask in the talents of really great writers.

    And thank you Tamara, for your kind comment. Now–onto “night.”

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