To see the winners in Category
A (10-13 years)

To see the winners in Category
B (13-16 years)

The results of 2018 Short Story Contest (Category A: Age 10-13 Years)

Rank Prize Young Writer Age (years) Story Judges' Verdict
1 First Prize, $500, Publishing Aleena Sebastian 11 That Glowing Penny A sad but immensely beautiful story. The characters have been developed so well that you will fall for them. Harper is a compelling character. Great smell and tactile descriptions: sweet scent of cinnamon and citrus, grainy feel of dirt. What sad life; you describe it so well. A very poetic story. The only improvement to the story could be to give some more context - it sounded like these people lived in an alternative society so, if this was the case, there should have been more information and description so the reader understood more and the story could stand up by itself a little better.
2 Second Prize, $250, Publishing Poem Schway 12 Hephaestus, Aphrodite and Dwayne Johnson Great title that hooks the reader in straightaway. Fantastic descriptions of imagery throughout. Great setting choice, sits nicely in the chosen genre. Beautiful prose: crescent-moon curve of a rosy almost-smile, saluting marble-grey rocks, tainted with desperation. You capture the essence of the two gods very well. Wonderful last sentence. The story is like a lyrical poem, and its theme of opposites attracting in the form of two very different characters makes it extremely intriguing the whole way through. Maybe a little repetitive in places, try to make sure there's always something happening as well as the character's inner thoughts.
3 Third Prize, $100, Publishing Quinn F Kammer 13 Help This story has all the makings of great speculative fiction and looks at the true cost of modern convenience with depth and understanding. Poor Klaus, though! The author very successfully evoked empathy and emotion for a robot that has to watch its human family disintegrate into digital addiction and malaise. It had a very sad ending, but a powerful one. The story could have used a bit more exploration into why the family had ended up going down the route they did, but otherwise this is an exceptional piece of writing.
4 Special Mention, Publishing Fisher Mishmash 13 The Tidepool Author has amazing talent for personifying all the animals within the writing. Each sea creature has its own unique style, making them feel almost human. The use of vocabulary was spot-on, and the introduction was amazing. The author utilizes a lovely quote from Rachel Carson to set an evocative mood and explores what it's like to be uprooted to a brand new environment. Best of all was the ocean setting; it's described beautifully and with an almost poetic style that makes everything come alive. Something to think - consider the world around the main character; the temperature, brightness of the day or darkness of the night, the breeze etc. Also consider time passing.
5 Special Mention, Publishing Arunima Jaiswal 13 Unplayed Duet Unplayed Duet is a brilliant, painful and often poignant tale told partially in third-person prose and partially in lyrics, giving a timeless story of life and death and a very understaning version of the Grim Reaper, removing the horror often associated with this figure and creating a character with amazing depth and complexity. As Amie questions why her brother had to die, she realizes that she and Death both have something in common - the ability to love and grieve. The author did a perfect job, especially with the beautiful songs woven throughout the story. Note to the author for the next time - read to someone who has no idea about the things you are descibing to make sure that they too can understand what you're going for.
6 Publishing Poem Schway 12 Soup 'Soup' is a beautifully written romantic story. The story has all the basic five components: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict and the resolution. Presence of all these components make the story flow smoothly. Easy to enjoy from start to finish and a really great title idea! The story develops wonderfully and ends well - the ending could have been worked a bit more though.
7 Publishing Naila Moloo 12 Frost Compelling voice. Megan is such a loveable character. Poetic prose: eyelashes laced in snow. The writer is excellent at creating suspense. This reads like a fabulous first chapter to a bigger story. Some more character development would have made the characters more realistic yet the writer did a great job in crafting an original plot about orphanage life and neglect. Such a deep thinking at such young age is really incredible.
8 Publishing Maya Haugan 11 Flames of Freedom This was an excellent albeit very sad tale of the futility of war and the main character's endearing hope of finding a safe place to live. The title hooks you in. Isa and her love for Claya and her mother is wonderfully written and part of what makes it easy to like her. Also, her determination to change her fate and fight for her freedom is really great. The journey element makes this story very strong. It was a little unclear when this was set and how much time passes in the narrative. Also, when writing try to consider the five senses and how they affect someone.
9 Publishing Elijah Bodden 10 Death's Darness This is a very original and spooky story but uplifting at the same time! The unique take on life and death was interesting. The author isn't afraid to go deeper with the themes of the writing, exploring a dark subject but offering a positive happy ending at the same time. The main character's relationship with his beloved mom was very realistic. The story begins well but somehow losses its charm on the way. Also, would have been better if the main character had been more proactive in the story - when there's a problem it's nice to see the character working hard to solve it and when they instead simply watch what's happening it can feel a little disappointing.
10 Publishing Anaya Chaudhry 10 Don't Judge Me! This tale impresses you on many levels. There is originality in the idea and, most importantly, one can see author's attempt to come out with something different. The author has also been succesful in keeping the attention of the readers till the end. With slight improvement in dialogues, the quality of the story could have been enhanced further. Story tackled a difficult subject matter - bullying - in a very real way and still managed to keep things funny and light in some places and serious in others. To improve make sure to reread through your story a couple of times to make sure it flows and that others undertstand where you're coming from. Also, when creatng a new world make sure you provide enough description of visuals as well as how the world works so that the reader can imagine it better.
11 Publishing Ankita Karuturi 11 Survival Great opening scene and fantastic world building. Really easy to become invested in the story and the reader is instantly wondering what'll happen next. Also, a fantastic twist in the story. This is really well-written with a good balance of sci-fi and human relationships and drama. The story lacks some elements of emotions. Inclusion of emotional elements would have made the charcters even richer.
12 Publishing Sienna Manning 12 My Journey to Freedom To see a young author so hauntingly write about slavery and resilience was amazing, and this story is as unforgettable as it is heartbreaking. For an author at the mere age of twelve to put a tale of racism and exploitation into such simple and inspirational words is quite an accomplishment. If there is a language barrier with two character and you are writing from the perspective of one of them, it's okay not to write what the second person is saying, just give enough context around so the reader can guess more or less what's going on.
13 Publishing Aidan Phipps Oneto 12 A Tennis Ball This story gives a human face to bullies and looks at them not as monsters, but as potential friends who deserve a second chance. Francisco is a great character with loads of personality, and as he attempts to relate to his own bully - readers get a glimpse into the life of belittlement and family dysfunction that led to the behavior in the first place. Sometimes we all need a helping hand, and this story proves it's worth it to reach out. Practise writing speech a little more by studying how people talk in real life and on the radio and on tv so yours flows better.
14 Publishing Sophie Corry 11 An Interesting Opponent 'An Interesting Opponent' is a well-written tale. There are elements of mystery and suspense and these elements have been executed well. The author knows how to pace the story and has done really well on this front. The characters have been developed well. Inclusion of more background knowledge would have made this story more intresting. The ending did not do justice to the rest of the story - as the story had invested the reader and led them to believe that something magical or ghostly was happening and so, while a smart cat is fun and interesting, it's not what the reader expected and it was also not shocking enough to make up for this.
15 Publishing Bryn McCarren 12 Fostering Relationships This is the story of a foster girl getting adopted and her developing relationship with her new parents. The emotions of the lead characters have been executed briliantly but we do not find anything new in the storyline. Consequently the story becomes predictable. The pace of the story is good and the author knows the art of the writing.
16 Publishing Mason Xavier Surratt 10 See You In Valhalla This story was well-written - a little gory, but very emotional and vivid. Very well-thoughtout. Also nice to see use of a strong female character. The historical theme came out well. An intensely dark story sometimes makes it difficult to relate to the character. The plot felt a bit disjointed. Anyhow, it's a clever, profound and poignant tale and it displays a lot of maturity and passion for the setting the story takes place in.
17 Publishing Ella Matterface 12 Mountain Paws With good narrative skill, the author has crafted a beautiful tale. The story has both action and emotions. The plot has a well-defined conflict and there is something for the readers to get hooked on. The story is sometimes sweet, other times brutal and ultimately a powerful tale of nature and the true definition of family. Think about focusing on improving dialouges.
18 Publishing Simon Vazquez-Carr 11 The Pen The basic concept used in this story is not new and has been used a number of times in past. But the way the idea has been executed in this story is certainly fresh. The opening is fantastic! The sytle and format of the story were cleverly executed. Next time, to get into the exciting parts of your story sooner make sure you're only telling the reader important information or that what you are saying is adding to the overal feeling of the story.
19 Publishing Kyleigh Williamson 11 The Ship of Steel This is a story filled with action and adventure. With creative imagination, the author has written a wonderful tale. Author's voice is clear and expresses clearly. However, at the same time, the author needed to work more on developing the characters. Additionally, some more details related to the ship would have helped.
20 Publishing Hilary Barkey 12 Lily Learns Love A really well thought out story about family, bullying and relationships. A complex topic dealt with ease and the author needs to be appreciated for that. Dramatic twist in the story was well-written. Nice to see strong character development. The author needs to work more on the dialogue.
21 Publishing Jona Cordonier Gehring 12 Speaking Up for Each Other This story is very current in its themes, as we are living in an era of polarized politics and a refugee crisis. Oftentimes it's hard to empathize with people if you've never been in their shoes, but this brilliant and moving story gives readers a chance to get a glimpse into the life of a Somalian refugee named Jason and offers a sharp contrast between him and a well-off young British boy who runs a web news show about activism. With startlingly impressive vocabulary usage, a lot of references to real issues/controversies, a powerful message of friendship and paying it forward, this story clearly shows the talent and maturity of the author. A slightly more attention to the plot development could have made this story even more enjoyable.
22 Publishing Jacqueline Hunter 12 Wisps of Hope 'Wisp of Hope'' is a tale filled with wonderful imagination. Consisent voice throughout and great handling of emotion, voice, character development and relationships. Powerful ending. Ties well with history. Be careful with the use of tenses. Certain portions of the story sound too clinical.
23 Publishing Cecilia Mae Richwine 10 Lost and Found This is the story of a young fox and a little girl who find love, companionship, trust and acceptance in each other. A well-sketched storyline with lots of emotions, the story leaves a definite impression on the readers. Author's effective use of detail adds a certain charm to the well-crafted tale. Inclusion of some well-written dialogue could have enhanced the quality of the story further.
24 Publishing Eva Beauchamp 11 Always Beautiful Great story about the effects of bullying and the healing powers of friendship, and self-love. This is a story of a small girl and her understanding of the term ''beautiful''. It is a well-written story and takes the readers right into the world of this girl. Dialogue has been used perfectly at appropriate places. The thoughts coming in girl's mind could have been dealt (written) in a better manner. Also, the different scenes could have been stitched together more smoothly.
25 Publishing Nadia Chernich 12 Here to Play Great title. Really nice to hear a personal story about judgement and mispreception about yourself. It's important to spread stories like these so that others can feel motivated to change and grow. This is a charcter driven story and, therefore, should have concentrated more on developing the character of the central lead.

The results of 2018 Short Story Contest (Category B: Age 13-16 Years)

Rank Prize Young Writer Age (years) Story Judges' Verdict
1 First Prize, $500, Publishing Lucy Liversidge 15 Mortimer A fabulous little tale with amazing imagination. Great concept and approach on death. Very engaging from the beginning till the end. The beginning could be strengthed a little bit. The middle to the end though, when Death first gets to the house, showed much stronger writing. Lots of potential!
2 Second Prize, $250, Publishing Logan Egle 15 Cossack Pride The descriptions are vivid and put the reader right into the action of the story. This is poignant, and the twist at the end packs a punch about the meaning of war and freedom of choice. Excellent language, dialogue, and message.
3 Third Prize, $100, Publishing Teagan Durkin 14 French Fries Great opening, puts us right into the story and sets the tone. The characters are loveable and have depth. Chronologically dividing the story worked well. Something to keep in mind when writing dialogue - remember how people talk in real life.
4 Special Mention, Publishing Laura Cao 16 Crossroads A haunting and moving story of loneliness and desperation. Love the idea of finding comfort in familiar strangers and love the mystery of whether the boy is real or not, but that having this friend (even if made up) gave her confidence. It will leave the readers wanting to know more about the characters.
5 Special Mention, Publishing Maya Lewins 15 The Emotional and Physical Embodiment of Stars This author understands the power and potential of the short story. The opening until "indeed, stars were everywhere" is so lovely and engaging. Excellent choice and use of language throughout. The author picked words with intention rather than just to show of vocabulary. There is an elegance to this story with an undercurrent of tension, desire, and tenderness. The author amazingly weaves the motif of stars throughout the whole story, creating a connected beginning, middle, end in so few pages. A wonderfully poetic, imaginative, and touching story.
6 Publishing Maggie Watson 16 Dagger Jensen Saves the World The voice of this story was fantastic. The author captured the energy of a little boy so well. The twist in the end was wonderful. The comment from the mom that his daddy would come home that night can confuse a reader. He clearly didn't show that night, so the reader would need to know if she was disappointed, worried, etc. Or maybe, change direction and have the woman not want him home. The reader needs something more than that one sentence to understand her relationship with her husband.
7 Publishing Khloe Beutler 15 My name is Cambell The beginning is so nice. Author's voice is perfect, and completely captures a little kid. Story is full of creative use of words making it very lively. The ending cuts off a little short. Readers need more to latch onto at the end… a twist or a deeper message.
8 Publishing Daphne Bargeman 15 Space Invaders This is a really cute story that captures the tension and awkwardness of becoming a teenager and more-than-friends with a childhood pal. Excellent use of language, and great work establishing relationships and tone. An original story with relatable characters.
9 Publishing Charlotte Menke 15 The Battle That Changed Us Very evocative story. Opening is great--hooks right away with the "secret." effectively handle the issue of stereotype. For example, the reader is surprised when the author reveals that the soldier is a woman. Jason's letter is a bit confusing--if he doesn't support her, why does he give her war information at the end of his letter? Great use of language though, a poignant message.
10 Publishing Asha Patel 15 Alone A sad little tale that's cleverly done and very well constructed. Great illustration of the routine and comfort of the main character's life prior to the accident. Impressive list of the things that he hates - the tone is very clear and constrasts with the tone he uses describing what he loves. The story kind of leaves a reader feeling very helpless at the end, in a good way, as the reader roots for him! Excellent writing.
11 Publishing Anuksha Ram Madhan 14 Red The opening describing death was wonderful. Using red as a motif is gorgeous throughout. This is writing and storytelling. Excellent work. Short stories are difficult, and the author did well. There is a beginning/middle/end, but more importantly it leaves a reader with a feeling s/he can't shake and makes him/her think. This is fantastic writing.
12 Publishing Anna Westwig 14 A Duel EXCELLENT imagery. Metaphor/simile used wonderfully. Only critique is that this seems like a great opening to a longer story rather than a short story that can stand alone. But it was still very engaging. The ending could have used a better twist.
13 Publishing Huda Haque 14 Remember Excellent use of language and metaphor. Difficult topic handled in a very real way. This will have the readers on the edge of their seat - which is commendable given such a short amount of time to achieve it. Ending felt a bit rushed though.
14 Publishing Sylvana Poon 13 It's Never Us and Them The structure of the story is well developed. The characters had depth which made the tale interesting to read. The story is memorable. Wonderful description, impressive language, could've gone deeper with plot, heart-warming though.
15 Publishing Katherine Lindsey Smith T 15 Loss Author's descriptions and metaphors will make the reader emotional on the very first page. The author packed such a punch in just one and a half pages, and told a full story. Excellent, poetic work. Continue to explore and expand upon this!
16 Publishing Khloe Beutler 15 Of Memories and Feathers Great opening sentence! Actually, that's true for every sentence about Hallie in Everett's life: box of crayons, cocoa, muddy shoes… just beautiful imagery that really makes one feel how big this loss is for him. This is probably one of the sweetest depiction of childhood friendship ever written. The author is an excellent writer and if continues to practice and edit, will write phenomenal stories one day.
17 Publishing Rachel Zhang 14 Restless Fingers Writing is good, structure is clear and engaging. Need to research legal system. Also, the plot is a bit confusing and the opening is misleading. It feels like there are two separate stories here.
18 Publishing Rhys Owen 15 Monster What powerful subject matter! Interesting perspective on this situation, and an unsympathetic critique of the justice system. Excellent use of language.
19 Publishing Ben Cohen 14 The Tales of a Single Mom Solid writing and structure. Good visuals. Addressed the ironies of poverty and race well. Could have expanded a bit further though.
20 Publishing Sarah Miller 16 The Witching Hour The author creatively uses conflict to move the story forward. The main character is well developed. This is an excellent writing in the sense that the concept can be developed as a full novel. Avoid filter words such as I walked, I see, he felt, etc. They weaken your writing and rob your reader of a more dynamic narration. A few plot holes… for example, how does Lucy know about her power if she keeps it a secret?
21 Publishing Arriyannah Herring 14 The Laptop The stones and building blocks metaphor was wonderful. The author is successful in evoking emotions from the readers. Overall, interesting concept, but some clumsy sentences and confusing timeline. Difficult topic to try and cover in a short story.
22 Publishing Sequoia Ayers 15 The New Kid An original, intriguing, and thought provoking story with such an interesting concept that deserves to be developed into a full novel. Meg's friend Lily believed her way too quickly. The dialogue needs some refinement.
23 Publishing Sherry Sun 16 Robbed with Nickels This was heartbreaking. The author did an excellent job capturing the desperation of the time. Taking a moment in history made it human, and brought it to life. This could be a memorable tale with some work on plot.
24 Publishing Jordan Nelson 13 Blu Birdie A really poignant little story. The reader is rooting for Birdie from the start. First sentence shows such a nice contradiction, lovely. Spelling and sentence structure were a bit distracting, but overall the story was told well and the ending broke reader's heart.
25 Publishing Xuan Xuan (Angelina) Li 16 Shadow Sister First of all, this issue is tackled in such an honest and real way, and it's easy to relate to the insecurities swarming this girl's mind. Use of language was bold and set an ominous and desperate tone for the story that proved to be appropriate through the ending. However, sometimes when we as writers get into the weeds of setting tone through poetic language, we have to go back and edit... edit... edit. Make sure every word is used with purpose, not just to impress. Overall though this story was great and sad the ending perfectly reflected the earlier statement "I could never fully love nor truly ever hate"... Nice work.