Winner, ‘Spotlight’ Challenge

Congratulations to Tamara Hunter, winner of the ‘spotlight’ challenge with the condensed psycho-drama, ‘Beyond the Pale’.

Tamara wins One Year To A Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft by Susan Tiberghien.

What the entries this month lacked in numbers, they certainly made up for in quality and variety – in both form and genre. Thank you to those who entered.

Thanks also to this month’s guest judge Keith McDonald, a 42-year veteran of the newspaper business who has worked as a reporter, features writer, liftout editor, columnist and sub-editor. He is currently writing a novel and short stories.

Keith 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 his thoughts on this round.

The next 500-word challenge is now open. Write up to 500 words around the theme ‘woman’ (in honour of International Women’s Day) and send them to by midnight, 4 April 2011 (AWST, GMT+8). The winner will receive a copy of Write Great Fiction – Dialogue by Gloria Kempton.


Judge’s comments:

Andrew O’Hagan makes Marilyn Monroe’s dog his central character in his latest novel and in this short story something similar is going on with the central character, a cat named Theobold, although it’s not obvious he is a cat until near the end. That’s when he climbs on the fence at night and “yowls” to the great annoyance of his owner, Ellen, who threatens him with “cut-rate kibble for a week”. This uncertainty over Theobold’s identity adds an air of intrigue and enables the reader to see him as both animal and human.

Theobold is a great character and despite the 500-word limit, the author brings him very colourfully to life with his pomposity and irritation at Ellen’s failure to appreciate his talents. A real star in his own mind. He disdainfully endures his owner “sweeping” into the room and telling him to take his dirty feet off the couch. Then the big finish with Theobold acting out a feline Hamlet on the fence and sacrificing a week’s good food for his Art with a capital A. He may be a cat but he feels very much like one of those delusional thespians of minimal talent who think they are God’s gift to acting.

The writer appreciates the limitations of 500 words and doesn’t try to do too much. The result is a beautiful piece of focused characterisation and a tight story that works beautifully.

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2 Responses to Winner, ‘Spotlight’ Challenge

  1. Kim Akimoto says:

    Congratulations Tamara! Wonderful entry!

  2. Shelley Devine says:

    Congratulations, Tamara — what a beautifully written “twist of the tail!”

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