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An Unexpected Twist

KSP Writers Centre

An Unexpected Twist

Judge’s Report

2019 KSP Spooky Story Competition

Carolyn Wren

The aim of any author when constructing a story is reader

satisfaction. I believe the short story genre is the hardest one to master, especially when given a specific theme. 1500 words, or 500 words for the junior category, is a tiny number of words inwhich to create an entire balanced story; one that has a clear beginning, middle and end; one which captures the essence of the theme and gives the reader well developed characters they can picture in their mind.

I participate in a lot of contest judging, and blind judged

contests are my favourite. There’s no outside influence. No cover art. No publisher logo. No author name. The story has to stand on its own merits. The entries in the KSP Spooky Story contest come to me with only the story title and a code number. To add an extra layer of anonymity, I ask that no one post their intention to enter the contest to any of my social media, or tell me personally. I always have a great time judging this contest, and I thank KSP for giving me the opportunity.

Anyone who writes a story is an author, and any author knows that sending your story out into the world to be judged is one of the scariest things you can possibly do. I’d like to applaud each and every one of our authors. The winners, the finalists, the entrants, and all of those who thought about entering this year’s contest, but didn’t. I hope you’ll build up your own courage by next year.

In conclusion, you should all be very proud of your

achievements. This year we expanded the contest to include a wider range of paranormal elements, not just ghosts. And in accordance with this, the 2019 contest theme was ‘change’ because change can be so many things. A change of mind. A change of heart. A change in direction. A sea change. A tree change. An emotional change. A physical change. We were looking for the character (or characters) to undergo some element of change within the story.

The story needed to incorporate some form of the paranormal, real or imagined, and of course, it needed to be spooky.

Submissions could involve paranormal or supernatural themes, including magic, ghosts, spirits or altered states of realism. As judge, I took into consideration the grammar and punctuation of each entrant, but it also came down to the feel of the story. A story isn’t just about each comma and full stop. It needs character and creativity. All the entries were spooky and fit the theme. All our writers deserve our congratulations for being brave enough to enter. 

A fun fact about this year’s contest: if you add up the total word count for all the entries in all the categories, plus the multiple times each story is read, it comes to over 400,000 words. Which means, if you didn’t reach the finals this year, don’t feel bad, as there was a lot of competition. 

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