2023 Shortlist Announcement:

Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition

Hawkeye is delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2023 Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition!

The judges have narrowed down the most skilfully crafted, creative, and engaging short stories responding to the detour/s theme. Out of 160 story submissions and forty longlisted entries, these top ten stories demonstrate outstanding literary talent.

Judging panel

Judging panel, the writing group Brisbane Scribes, say, ‘Deciding on forty titles to be published in an anthology was problematic enough, but distilling that list to a shortlist stimulated much debate amongst the judges with some passionate advocacy of individual selections. As would be expected, all on the list are well-written explorations of the competition theme and vary markedly in style and subject matter.’

Carolyn Martinez, Director of Hawkeye Publishing, adds, ‘A cleverly crafted short story is not only enjoyable to read, but is also an excellent strategic step for a writer’s career. A shortlisted story shows publishers that you have unique and creative ideas, know how to draw readers in, and understand how to wield words to their maximum effect.

‘Shortlisted entrants should be extremely proud of the story they’ve produced, and also go on and share this achievement with friends, family, and the writing community.’

Shortlisted Entries

Congratulations to the following top-ten entrants in the Syndey Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition on their exceptional stories:

Open Shortlist
  1. The Dust of Afghanistan by Amanda Heartsong
  2. Lefty Righty by Kathleen Klug
  3. The Aluminium Swan Song by T. L. Ransome
  4. Breakfast by Pete Armstrong
  5. Exit by Suzi Mezei
  6. Min Min by Emma Rosetta
  7. Mr Popperwell Takes the Lead by Ned Stephenson
  8. The Last Matchmaker by Elaine Chennatt
  9. The Meet-Cute by Tammy Keerthipala
  10. Up Where the Birds Fly by Chyna Whittaker Goodwin

These ten entries, and the thirty further entries in the competition’s longlist, will be published by Hawkeye in the 2023 anthology. All longlisted entrants receive a free copy of the anthology.

The top three winners, to be announced soon, receive a year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre, while the overall winner also receives a coveted ticket to the Children and Young Adult (CYA) Conference for 2024.

Thank You to Our Judges

The judges of this year’s Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition were the Brisbane Scribes writing group, and Hawkeye’s Meesha Whittam and Alex Wilson.

‘Judging a short story competition involves a lot more than reading a few good stories, because you’re being asked to make objective decisions about something artful and emotive that writers have invested a lot of time and consideration in,’ says Carolyn Martinez. ‘We at Hawkeye really appreciate the care, considered debate, and literary expertise that this experienced group of judges applied to the process.’

The Brisbane Scribes was founded in 2020 and comprises a group of talented and highly experienced Brisbane-based writers, editors, and literature enthusiasts: Jo Skinner, Jane Connolly, Jennifer Adams, Bernadette Condren, Marnie Bolton, and Tatia Power.

Meesha Whittam is a University of Queensland Creative Writing graduate and has been a publicist at Hawkeye for a year and a half.

Alex Wilson, assisting Meesha, is a volunteer editor at Hawkeye. Alex learnt her craft in a Bachelor of Creative Industries from the University of South Australia, majoring in Creative Writing and Literature.

Writing Tips for Short Story Competitions

Making it to the shortlist is no small achievement. Each of these entrants have used their 1000 words or fewer expertly and economically to craft an impactful story.

The Brisbane Scribes report, ‘The criteria were our starting point, and we particularly sought those stories which surprised or challenged us in their telling.’

The criteria for the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition were:

  • Writing ability: correct tense, point of view, minimal redundant words and adverbs, show not tell.
  • Story arc: rising tension, climax, resolution.
  • Adherence to the competition theme.
  • Spelling and grammar.
  • Layout conforms to the competition guidelines.

Short stories may be brief, but they should leave an impact on the reader. Often, the gaps and silences in a short story say as much as the written words do. The key to imbuing your words with meaning that goes beyond the page is to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’.

Rather than explaining things to the reader, skilful writers will include symbolic, illustrative details that hint at the story’s circumstances, or rely on tense interactions between characters to allude to their past experiences. This leaves readers space to engage their imagination and co-create the story, resulting in a more powerful short story.

Of course, to give your story its best chance in front of a judging team of experienced writers and publishers, make sure your grammar, spelling, and layout is top-notch. Always seek another pair of eyes to pick up any small errors in your final draft.

If you didn’t make it to the longlist or shortlist, don’t give up! Hawkeye’s Director, Carolyn Martinez, says, ‘If you missed out on getting published this time around, don’t let it stop you from trying again. It was a high-quality competition, and our judges made some tough decisions. Keep writing and keep reading. Practise replicating the creative and stylistic strategies of the authors who inspire you. There are plenty of resources, courses, and professional mentors out there that can help you hone your writing ability. Just keep at it!’

Thank you sponsors

Hawkeye would like to thank our 2023 sponsors, the Queensland Writers Centre for their generous support of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition and the CYA Writers and Illustrators Conference.

Winners Announcement

Congratulations to all the entrants in the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition, with particular commendation to our shortlisted entrants. Hawkeye eagerly awaits the judges’ decisions on the three winning stories.

Sign up to our newsletter

Subscribe to Hawkeye’s newsletter to receive the announcement of the winning short stories. Visit our homepage to sign up.

Winning Short Story Competitions

For five-star writing guidance, consider purchasing a copy of Winning Short Story Competitions: Essential Tools for the Serious Writer, by Cate Sawyer and L. E. Daniels, from Hawkeye’s online store, or borrowing it from your local library.

Winning Short Story Competitions
Winning Short Story Competitions

2024 Competition

If you’re eager to get an early start for the next round of the competition, the theme for 2024 is: The look that said it all. Visit the competition page here.

Got a manuscript that needs help?

Why not try the Hawkeye Publishing Structural Assessment service and get helpful advice from experienced editors. Visit the site here.

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