Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition


The 2024 Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition is now OPEN!

Long-listed entrants have been announced in our newsletter, and on social media. Details here.

Competition Details

Competition Details:

2024 Theme: The look that said it all

First prize:

  • A ticket to the Children and Young Adult (CYA) Conference for 2024 (valued at $410)
  • A year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) valued at $79.
  • Anthology cover based on the winner’s story.

Second prize: A year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre (valued at $79).

Third prize: A year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre (valued at $79).

Winners who are existing QWC members will win a 12-month membership extension. Winners don’t have to be Queensland-based to enjoy the many wonderful membership benefits of the QWC.

Short-Listed and Long-Listed announced.

TOP 40 published in an anthology – free copy to all published entrants.

(Sponsorship Opportunities Available – Contact Carolyn)

Closes 6PM Tuesday 1st August 2024

Maximum 1,000 words 

Theme: The look that said it all

$16.50AU entry

We’re looking for stories with powerful beginnings, rising tension, and a climax that resonates, to the theme of The look that said it all. Short stories about alternative routes, roads less travelled, unexpected journeys, that examine lessoned learned, cautionary tales, surprising endings, friends made along the way. Play with unconventional storytelling, or tell a story that plays with ‘epic journey’ tropes. What obstacles can keep your characters from reaching their goals? Have they reached their ending yet? Has something lead to a possibility they would have never otherwise imagined? 

Sometimes the way forward isn’t simple, and often it’s these detours through life that make for compelling, hopeful, significant, surprising, or comical stories – stories that linger on characterisation, resilience, unorthodox experiences, and new ways of looking at the world. That stick with us after the last sentence is done.

Judges are looking for the following:

  • 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 & Grammar.
  • Layout conforms to the competition guidelines.

Read this feature from the 2020 competition for notes from the judges on what made the published 40 stand out from the field.

Want an insight into the types of stories that win first prize and get published in our anthology?

Then grab a copy of the 2023 Anthology, Detours and find out. Details here.

Prize Pool :

  • Winner: A ticket to the CYA Conference for 2024 (valued at $410) + a year-long membership to the QLD Writers Centre valued at $79.
  • Shortlisted (2nd – 4th placed) names published.
  • Top 40 stories will be published in an anthology. All those published receive a free copy of the anthology.

Shortlisted (Top 10) and Longlisted (11-40) finalists names will be published on

Judges can’t wait to read your stories!

Great feedback on our competition

Thanks for all the lovely feedback you send us on the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition, like this one from Finola on 2/8/21 – ‘Really appreciate the work that goes into such competitions and the opportunity it provides. Kudos to the organisers!’

Read about last year’s long listed here.

See last year’s anthology, Detours, here. The theme for 2023 was Detours.

We recommend Winning Short Story Competitions as an essential writing guide. Competition judges L. E. Daniels and C. Sawyer show what it takes to win short-list and long-list in competitions. Short list and long list credits are just as beneficial to a writer’s career as wins are.

Thanks to our generous sponsors:

CYA Writers & Editor Conference and Queensland Writers Centre.

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.

Hawkeye Publishing extends a huge thank you to our Gold Sponsors of the inaugural prize in 2019Tony and Christine Hammond (Sydney Hammond’s son and daughter-in-law), for enabling the winner’s cash prize, the printing of the 40 anthologies for the Top 40, and the cover design for the book!

And Karen & Shane Traversari – Silver sponsors – we thank you, thank you.

Hawkeye Publishing extends a big thank you to Lynette Hammond (Sydney Hammond’s daughter) for sponsoring proofreading services!

It was a family & friends affair to launch the inaugural Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition in 2019…

Editing, Page Setting, Distribution & Sales, and Publicity provided by Carolyn Martinez (Sydney Hammond’s daughter) through Hawkeye Publishing.

Who was Sydney?

Who is Sydney (Syd) Hammond?

Syd Hammond appeared to be like any ordinary guy. But those who loved him, knew different. He was so much more than ordinary. Syd was born in 1937 and died in 2007, aged 70. As a teenager he taught himself to play guitar. When rock-n-roll first sounded on radio there wasn’t sheet music to follow. Syd and his mates crowded into booths at record stores. They listened keenly to identify their instruments. He hand-made his first electric guitar. He was one of the first Brisbane musicians to play music on TV. 

In 1964, Syd received a bravery award for capturing one of Queensland’s most wanted criminals – Bernard Morrow. Driving in his police patrol car, Syd noticed a drunk driver. He pulled him over, and casually suggested the gent go to the police station to sleep it off before he drove any further. Bernard Morrow complied. At the station, with Bernard sleeping it off, Syd sat at a desk and a WANTED poster caught his eye.  Staring back at him were the eyes of the man already locked in the cell. He orated with glee the story of luck getting him a bravery award.

Syd portrayed a quintessential Aussie spirit of larrikin, ‘give it a go, mate’, mateship, and do the best you can for your family. Syd loved Australia. He believed in standing up for what you believe in. He believed that music, art, humour and stories are the drumbeats that bring people together.

Tragedy struck in 2000 when his daughter, Julie, and son-in-law, John, were murdered by an intruder. The grief and injustice ran deep. When tragedy strikes we’re reminded of what really matters in our lives. When families are so harmed they often look to transform their heartbreak into community support for others to find the positive.

The Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition to honour his memory was founded by his family.

For Carolyn, Syd’s daughter and the Director of Hawkeye Publishing, words are held with reverence. The ability to articulate to be meaningful, thought-provoking and entertaining fosters community, understanding, change, healing, celebrating all that should not be taken for granted.

Words are powerful, and our wish with this competition is to acknowledge talented wordsmiths and give writers the opportunity to be heard.

The competition is not-for-profit—profit from the year before is used as the following year’s prize money. Judges announce the winner, short-list, long-list and Best 5 Junior. These top 45 stories are published in an anthology, and all those published receive a free copy of the book. Guidelines and entry form can be found at

Hawkeye Publishing thanks the inaugural sponsors who made the competition possible: Tony & Christine Hammond (gold sponsors), Lynette Hammond, and Shane & Karen Traversari. We also thank our current gold sponsor: Brisbane Writers Workshop.

Entry Form

Terms & Conditions

Competition Terms & Conditions

Entry Terms and Conditions 2024 – Sydney Hammond Short Story Award

By entering a piece in the Sydney Hammond Short Story Award – a writing competition – you agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions.

  1. Entries close 6pm EST Tuesday, 1st August, 2024.
  2. The word limit is 1,000. This includes titles and any sub-headings. There is no minimum.
  3. Submit your entry in Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spacing with paragraph first line tab indent. Your name must not appear on your story. Word or PDF acceptable. You must address the theme – Detour/s. Maximum 1,000 words.
  4. Entries can be fiction, or fiction inspired by true events.
  5. Winner receives a ticket to the CYA Conference for 2024 (valued at $410) + a year-long membership to the QLD Writers Centre valued at $79 + Anthology front cover design based on winner’s story.
    Second and Third placegetters receive a a year-long membership to the QLD Writers Centre valued at $79.
    Shortlisted (2nd – 10th placed) names published.
    Top 40 stories will be published in an anthology, and all those published receive a free copy of the anthology. 
  6. Your story must not include your name or any identifying marks.
  7. Entry is online only.
  8. Entries must be the original work of the applicant and must not be published in any form or currently offered for publication.
  9. If you prefer your story published under a pseudonym, there is an optional field on the entry form.
  10. Entrants are welcome to submit more than one story. There is no limit on number of entries. A separate entry form, and separate entry fee of $16.50 (incl. GST) must accompany each entry.
  11. You must acknowledge any quotes from other writers that you use.
  12. Staff of Hawkeye Publishing and competition judges and their family members are not eligible to enter the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story  Competition.
  13. The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into with either the judges, or the staff.
  14. By entering the Sydney Hammond Short Story Writing Competition, the author gives permission to Hawkeye Publishing to publish his/her work in the anthology if selected by the judges. The copyright to the work is always retained by the author. As publisher of the anthology, Hawkeye Publishing will have First Publication Rights to all submitted works and may use any title or phrase from any entry for the purpose of promoting the competition and the anthology. Any collection or publication subsequent to the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition that includes the author’s story should acknowledge Hawkeye Publishing.
  15. Prize winners may be required to participate in media-related events associated with the competition.
  16. By supplying your contact details you agree to us sending you opt-out correspondence.
  17. The finalists to be published in the anthology will be announced on this website and across our social media channels early October 2024.