Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 BNZ Literary Awards - Novice writers' category

Here is a link to the judge's report for the Novice writers' category of the BNZ literary awards. The judge of this category was Rachel King and I have found her report worth reading for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is purely personal: I was lucky enough to gain third place in this category with a story called The Rings of Saturn and to get mentioned in the report. I am grateful for her comments on the strengths and weaknesses of my story, not just because I respect Rachel King as a writer and critic, but because she obviously took the time to reflect thoughtfully on the top four stories and give some constructive feedback on all of them.

The second reason is that she has made some general comments about the topics and themes of many of the fifty shortlisted stories she read in this year's novice section of the competition. She states her concern that the topics (often around grief and death) might be being used to elicit an otherwise unearned emotional response in the reader. This is a very interesting comment and one worth pondering in more depth. I'm inferring that she means by this that the writing (of any story) needs to be a stronger vehicle for transporting the reader and making them feel and respond than the topic (or plot?) of the story, not that there is anything wrong with these topics/themes themselves? After all, many truly great short stories have been based on these themes, but I guess what makes them great is that the emotional response of the reader has been earned by the quality of the writing and the skill of the storytelling. Definitely something to aim for.

Here is a link for those of you interested in reading my story, The Rings of Saturn.

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