A note for your diaries short story writers…
The Davy Byrnes Award is Ireland’s biggest short story competition - the winner will walk away with €15,000, and there are five runner-up prizes of €1,000. It’s organised by The Stinging Fly and the judges are Anne Enright, Yiyun Li and Jon McGregor. The competition is not open for entries untill December, but it’s never too soon to get writing.
They’re looking for previously unpublished stories, the maximum word count is 15,000 words, and there’s no minimum word count. (Which I presume means they are open to receiving short short stories.) There’s only one story per entrant & a €10 entry fee. Deadline is Monday Feb 3rd 2014.
It’s interesting to read what the judges like in a story…. These are extracts; you can read the full statements and further details about the competition on the Stinging Fly website – here.
…The short story yields truth more easily than any other form, and these truths abide in changing times. As a writer turned judge, I am looking for a story that could not have been written any other way; that is as good as it wants to be; that is the just the right size for itself.
…As for what I look for in a short story, to borrow from Tolstoy: 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' There are stories written like happy families, which one reads and forgets the moment one puts them down. But the stories that belong to the category of unhappy families, they can do all kinds of things: they touch a reader, or leave a wound that never heals; they challenge a reader's view, or even infuriate a reader; they lead to a desire in the reader's heart to be more eloquent in his ways of responding to the story yet leave the reader more speechless than before. A good story is like someone one does not want to miss in life.
…What I look for in a short story is a kind of intensity of purpose and clarity of expression; something which holds my attention and rings clearly in my reading mind. For me, this is mostly something in the voice on the page; something in the control of the syntax, which immediately puts me in the world of that story. If it's there, it usually kicks in within the first few lines; after that, it's just a matter of seeing whether the writer can really keep it up.