Recently, our GCSE English students had the opportunity to enter a fantastic creative writing competition which was judged for a first, second and third place by esteemed London-based poet and educator, Rachel Piercey.
Rachel, an English Literature graduate of St Hugh’s College in Oxford, kindly gave her time and expertise to read a class-load of short stories, in order to whittle it down to her favourite three – no easy task as all the entries were fantastic.
Huge congratulations must go to the three winners, Joseph, Chloe and Mhari whose stories you can read below, along with the judges’ comments.
1st Place: Joseph Bourke-Smith – Studying Level 2 Animal Care
I was really impressed by the pace of this story, how the author draws us into the transformation from human brain to werewolf brain. Joseph narrates the stages of the transformation in gripping detail: first the speaker’s body changes, then his vision, then his movement. Then he loses his sense of fear, then his sense of time, and finally his human morality. There are lots of vivid verbs (swiping, bombarding, gush, flickered, sprouting, plunged, slamming) and powerful phrases such as “spheres of gold which glowed in the shadows”, “bark that looked like it had been chiselled by time itself” and “reckless rampage”. I really like how the village flips from a place of safety to a place of vulnerability – a chilling way to end the story.
2nd Place: Chloe Horne – Studying Level 2 Animal Care
I really enjoyed the humour of this story and the finely balanced mix of imaginative detail and vividly realistic characters. The different personalities are very well drawn and their conversation feels very believable: I like the contrast between Dr Snarfa’s urgent, knowledgeable tone and the Captain’s dismissive, informal language. I hugely enjoyed Chloe’s quirky and entertaining extra-terrestrial inventions: the probe ship following the meteor, “the Federation of United Planets”, space pirates being back in fashion, the Captain absorbing his drink through his head… I also admired the way the wry, chatty fourth paragraph is interrupted by Dr Snarfa’s forceful speech, it really enhances the atmosphere of imminent danger.
3rd Place: Mhari Lochhead – Studying Level 2 Agriculture
I was really impressed by how Mhairi creates an atmospheric sense of the ancient world but with warmly relatable characters. The story is funny and tense both at once – the brothers have a humorous sibling dynamic but the stakes are incredibly high. Mhairi uses powerful language and imagery to get across the sense of danger: “dominant, ever-looming doors”, “a limp, lifeless, shuddering corpse”, “as if I was a grain of rice in a wheat field”, “glistening dagger teeth”. The story has a clear structure and packs a lot of well-paced action into a short form. I was very glad that Matei and Mytus got a happy ending!