It is thrilling for us to announce the winner of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition 2020 which was themed ‘if only’.
This is a not-for-profit competition that is only possible because of volunteers, including our guest judges, and we are extraordinarily grateful for their enthusiasm. It is special to us to give writers the opportunity to flex their creativity, be published, and enjoy the benefits that a competition long-list, short-list or win offers to a writer’s career. With the stunning array of entries we received this year, the short story is most definitely thriving during this extraordinary experience of the COVID pandemic. Many managed to turn forced lock-down into worthy writing practice.
Congratulations to our Top 4 for 2020’s Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition
WINNER: Francesco Moramarco for ‘Witless Wings’.
RUNNER-UP: Jack Garrety for ‘Five Minutes’.
HIGHLY COMMENDED (3rd): Paul Traynor for ‘Inside and Outside’.
HIGHLY COMMENDED (4th): Eric Blair for ‘Is It a Wonderful Life’.
These writers entered exquisite short stories that honour the theme, and with original thought. Every word in their short stories earned its place, and they mastered the build-up of tension through to a climax and resolution.
Congratulations Francesco for an exceptional win, and to Jack, Paul and Eric for your outstanding results.
To the remaining six writers in the short-list – you all wrote exceptional stories. I reaffirm that your short-listing is a significant achievement in a highly competitive field.
Francesco has won $250 of editing, coaching or design by Hawkeye, and the anthology’s front cover design based on his story ‘Witless Wings’. All 41 entrants published receive a free copy of the anthology, and the announced junior winner also received a free copy of the writing guide, ‘Winning Short Story Competitions’.
Judges’ Tips for the 2020 Field of Entrants
There are enough entrants in the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition that judges are spoilt for choice. They do not have to consider short stories that contain head-hopping within sections, an excess of redundant words or grammar issues, inconsistent tense, or are written in tell not show.
With only 1,000 words on the page, a well constructed short story has no tolerance for under performing or unnecessary words. Weak adverb/verb combinations are replaced with strong verbs that stand alone. There is no background info dumping – key facts that readers need are strategically peppered throughout the story. Redundant words eg. ‘he started walking’ instead of ‘he walked’ should not appear.
The selection of this year’s Top 40, particularly the Short-List and Top 4, largely came down to two factors – originality, and the advanced use of tension build-up to climax and a resolution. Original thought stands out like a lone swan amongst brown ducks when swags of stories on one theme are read and judged. Short stories that have 2-3 escalating tension points that lead to a climax and resolution – they’re the ones that make the reader, and judges, feel the moments. That’s how a writer leaves a lasting impression.
Co-author of the writing guide, Winning Short Story Competitions, Cate Sawyer, writes an entire chapter on ‘Enter Late, Leave Early’. It’s gold advice. She says, ‘Avoid the writers’ foible of laboured exposition at the commencement of the story. Throw the reader straight into the thick of the action – where the story is interesting. Leave the reader at the point of a-ha–not later.’ She says that writers often underestimate the intelligence of their audience, and over-explaining an ending kills it.
I’ll leave you with one last tip that was evident this year. A number of entrants titled their story – If Only. Whilst it doesn’t go against you if you do, it does make it easier for administrators and judges if you have an original title. Additionally, you don’t have to mention the exact theme in your short story. When most entries all contained the actual words of the theme, it stood out when a writer used original phrasing instead of paraphrasing. Or better yet, didn’t have to mention the theme, because their story ‘showed’ the theme.
Hawkeye Publishing partners with Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries in their internship program. Each semester, final year university students join us to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field of editing, marketing or design under the supervision of our experienced team. This term, we had designer, Eliana Bryant and editing intern, Nita Delgardo. Both have contributed significantly to the winner’s anthology. Nita performed commendable line editing and proofreading, and Eliana spent hours polishing a cover design.
Despite Eliana’s design ultimately not being chosen for publication, I’m sharing it with you because it’s too good not to. In terms of originality and design elements, Eliana’s design ticks all the boxes. Our team ultimately chose a softer, calmer cover – feeling that in this year of COVID, we all need more of that. The team considered that the feathered cover also relates to the winning story, and to the dominant feeling of hope in the other short stories published in Reset.
Pre-orders for Reset
We do one only print-run for the winners’ anthology. To ensure you don’t miss out, please pre-order copies here. We’re page-setting now and anticipate posting the printed books in January 2021.
Thank You to our Team of Volunteers
We’d like to firstly thank our longest serving volunteer, Silvana Nagl – without Silvana the competition would not be the success it is. It is because of Silvana that writers get to hear of the opportunity.
Thank you to judges Daniel Brown, Lynette Hammond, and Michelle Murray-Cox. They were tasked with a mammoth job in choosing the long-list for publication, and performed the challenge admirably.
Thank you to our celebrity judges, authors L. E. Daniels and C. T. Mitchell, tasked with choosing the winner and place-getters. As always, their support for Hawkeye Publishing and our community efforts is much appreciated. L. E. Daniels joined the voice of some schools championing us to consider a short story competition for junior writers – not a category to the main competition, but it’s own competition.
Decisions for 2021 Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition
- The theme is ‘Courage’ – similiar prizes and closing date. The website will be updated shortly.
- Because of the strong interest we’ve had from schools we are introducing a new short story competition for junior entrants only – the Junior Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition will be for under 18-year-olds.
Read the Short-List Announcement here.
Read the Long-List Announcement here.
Read about the Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize here.
Read about the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition 2021, themed Courage, here.