On this page …
- our 2013 short story competition
- the 2012 competition winners & the winning story
2013 Short Story Competition
Entries are invited for the annual Short Story Competition of the West Country Writers’ Association.
The competition is open to any author or aspiring author who has had no more than two short stories professionally published, or read on mainstream radio.
The winner will receive £50 in cash and be invited to spend a day at the association’s next annual literary event, March 22nd 2014 in Weston-super-Mare. The winning entry will be published on the WCWA website.
Entries can be on any subject or theme but must include the words EXETER CATHEDRAL at least once. The entry fee is £5 per story.
Entries must not exceed 1200 words, must be in English and be the writer’s own unpublished work. They must not be on offer for publication or entered in any other current competition. Each piece of work with its title must be in clear type, double line spaced, on one side of A4 sheet(s) and details of the author must NOT appear on any part of the actual story.
Please keep a copy of your work as it cannot be returned.
Contestants may enter as many stories as they wish, but each must be accompanied by a separate entry form and the required entry fee.
The closing date for entries is Monday 9th December 2013.
Entries can only be posted to: Diney Costeloe, Glebe House, Shipham, Winscombe, Somerset BS25 1TW. Cheques should be made payable to WCWA.
Click this link 2013 entry form v2 or send a stamped addressed envelope to: Sue Collins, 21 Manor Road, Tavistock, Devon PL19 0PL or e-mail to admin[at]westcountrywriters.com (please replace the [at] with @)
Regrettably, the judges are unable to supply criticism of any entry, and no correspondence can be entered into concerning the result. All entries that arrive on time will be considered by the panel of adjudicators, whose decision is final.
The winners of our 2012 Short Story Competition
We are pleased to announce the winners of our Short Story Competition for 2012 – the winner is Marion Smith with her story entitled Colonel Mustard’s Eventful Day (which is shown below). Marion wins a day with us at the Writers’ Weekend in April and a cheque for £50.
Our second place winner is Edgar Thompson with his story entitled The Legacy. The second prize is a writing course kindly donated by Orchard Studio Gunnislake.
Our runner up is Veronica Bright for her story entitled The Man at the Allotments.
Here is Marion Smith’s winning Short Story
Colonel Mustard’s Eventful Day
Colonel Mustard felt the Cluedo box being lifted off the shelf and placed on the table. It had been a while since the family had played Cluedo and he felt pleased at the prospect of a bit of action. He heard children’s voices and the sound of scraping chairs.
“Come on everyone,” he called, “The game’s about to begin.”
He stood to attention waiting for the lid to be taken off the box while Professor Plum shambled around the corner carrying a sheaf of papers. The professor scowled and said peevishly, “They’re always interrupting. I’ve got more important things to do than play silly murder games!”
There was a click of heels and Miss Scarlet appeared in a dress of impossible tightness and redness, matched by equally bright lipstick, nail varnish and ridiculously high-heeled red shoes.
She swayed past them leaving behind a waft of heavy perfume.
The Rev. Green emerged next with his customary expression of benign absentmindedness, and Mrs White and Mrs Peacock brought up the rear. Colonel Mustard looked approvingly at Mrs Peacock. In his opinion she was the perfect lady, softly spoken, poised and always elegantly dressed. She reminded him of his mother who had worn gloves and thrown small garden parties.
The voices of the humans were heard overhead. Grandfather took charge.
“Robert, set the board out and make sure everyone has a pencil and paper. Lucy, you can put the three cards in the envelope. No looking now. Pick them up face down, and slide them into the envelope.”
There was a grumble from the boy. “That’s not fair Granddad. She always gets to put the murder cards in the envelope. You said last time that I could.”
“Stop complaining Robert. You are eleven years old now. Either you want to play or you don’t. You can go to bed if you’d rather.”
It appeared that the boy didn’t want to go to bed but neither did he want to play by the rules. He muttered under his breath and pushed the pieces around the board at breakneck speed. Colonel Mustard found himself hurtling along the passageway from the kitchen to the study and then being crashed into a shelf of books in the library next door.
“Put Colonel Mustard back in the study, Robert,” said his mother. “You know perfectly well that you can only move one room at a time.”
The game continued, and the adults played with silent concentration, the little girl occasionally asked for help and the boy scuffed his feet on the bar of the chair.
Colonel Mustard found himself, no longer a suspect, alone in the dining room with time to muse on murder and murder weapons. His own favourite weapon was the pistol. Professor Plum betrayed his innate vulgarity by laying into a victim with the lead pipe as if he were coshing a rival for a university post. Mrs Peacock of course, did everything with the utmost decorum and Miss Scarlet did not. She usually brandished a polished candlestick with undisguised glee, and to Colonel Mustard’s disgust, once finished a poor fellow off with a pointed stiletto shoe. He shuddered at the recollection. Admittedly it was only a game, but even so one should try to maintain certain standards.
His reverie was broken by an uproar from the humans.
“Ouch,” said the little girl, followed immediately by the sharp tones of the grandmother.
“Robert, how dare you stick that dagger into your sister. Apologise at once.”
The little girl set up a wail but no apology was forthcoming.
Instead Colonel Mustard found himself flying through the air amid a shower of weapons and most of his fellow players. He had the satisfaction of seeing Professor Plum hit the brass fire fender and stagger to his feet with a face almost as purple with rage as his plum coloured jacket.
His own impact with the bottom of the grandfather clock was scarcely less violent but when he picked himself up and glanced up at the table he was rewarded by a sympathetic look from Mrs Peacock, the only person not to have been dislodged when the boy swept the pieces off the board. When they were all assembled once more she enquired with genuine concern, “You poor dear. Are you hurt?”
He beamed back. “Not at all, dear lady. Nothing that an old soldier can’t cope with.”
Meanwhile Robert had been given a politically incorrect and very well deserved clip around the ear by his grandfather. His mother said loudly, “That’s it. The game is ruined and you children are going to bed. Now.”
Grandfather chipped in swiftly, “Yes to bed. But the game isn’t ruined. I know exactly where every piece was. We shall carry on again tomorrow, after tea.”
The lid was put back on the box, the lights were switched off and the house fell silent.
Colonel Mustard drifted off to sleep with his favourite fantasy running through his head.
It was 1798 and, in the guise of his most distinguished ancestor, the much decorated Sir James Arbuthnot Mustard, he was standing on the deck of his ship at the battle of the River Nile. Napoleon’s fleet was trapped between the English and the shore, and battle was about to commence. He noted the signal flying from Nelson’s flagship and gave the command, “Fire!”
The cannons thundered and the fifteen pounders crashed into the French “Orient” causing her to heel over and capsize. As the smoke cleared he glanced to the shore and saw Mrs Peacock dressed in something gauzy, blue and billowy. She gave him a look of obvious admiration. Just as he was deciding to go ashore for a few moments to stroll hand-in-hand with her past the palm trees and pyramids, he felt a draught above his head and saw the lid of the box being lifted up. The light of a torch revealed young Robert’s face. Colonel Mustard felt a surge of irritation. First the dratted boy had shown a fit of childish temper and now he was interrupting a very pleasant dream. He closed his eyes and returned firmly to Aboukir Bay; thus he did not see young Robert reach in and remove the envelope containing the murder information.
The game recommenced the following evening but it was clear from the outset that something was wrong. The boy was uncharacteristically well behaved but the adults were obviously puzzled. After comparing notes and running through the list of possible suspects it appeared that there were no suspects, no murder weapon and no room in which the murder could have taken place.
In exasperated tones the grandfather said, “Alright, I give up. Pass me the envelope Robert and we’ll see what’s gone wrong.” The boy grinned as he handed over the envelope.
His grandfather reached inside and drew out, not three cards but a single sheet of paper. He read aloud, “The murder was committed by Hercule Poirot with his walking stick on the 4.50 from Paddington.” He glared at his grandson who said innocently, “Well that’s according to Agatha Christie, and she should know.”