Judge’s Report – October 2017 – Flash Fiction

The Upside of Loneliness: Flash Fiction (300 words) October 2017

Judge’s Overall Report: Charmaine Slater

Firstly I would love to commend every single writer who submitted their stories. I found the entries to be of an exceptionally high standard. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to put some of these amazing pieces into 300 words. Well done to each participant.


Overall I felt that the stories were delightful to read. Often I found myself looking for more! I laughed and yes, cried! There is no question that the Writers Circle is filled with some exceptional talent.


Firstly I have to say that I firmly believe loneliness is one of the most challenging emotions to portray in writing. In reading the stories, I felt that some of the writers did an excellent job of expressing loneliness. Others, however confused loneliness with loss, grief, and heartache. It is easy to confuse loneliness with other emotions—I do not doubt this in the least. And I think it must be tough to accurately portray loneliness in only 300 words. Having said that I can just add that reading what I can describe as stories from the heart was very refreshing.


Some of the advice I can offer writers is to firstly have a look at the formatting of stories. When printed out (because I’m a sucker for paper in hand) some of the stories lacked spacing between words, e.g. “groupingwords”. This is not easy on the eye. This is not a ‘biggie’, but it can make reading stories a little confusing.


Then, there were one to two issues with dialogue consistency in stories. In some of the dialogues, I found myself a little lost; I had to read the story a few times for it to make sense. This can be quickly rectified. Grab someone you trust and have them read over the story. Then practice the dialogue between two people out loud; by doing this, you will also get a better feel for the story. Alternatively merely reading the conversation out loud can make the world of difference.


Another great piece of advice I can offer is to print a story out, step away from the computer, sit outside and take a read through it. Distancing yourself from a computer or tablet screen will often give you a spark of brilliance! Especially when rounding up the plot. It will also give you a fresh perspective on what you have written.


This brings me to my last criticism. Rounding off / finishing off stories. I know 300 words it not a lot to work with. Some stories just came to an abrupt conclusion, and this left me with more questions than answers. It was such a pity because the stories all started out very strong. Having a definite ending after a strong introduction is what all writers should strive for.


Nevertheless, I feel privileged to have read your phenomenal work. Thank you for sharing your upside of loneliness with me. Picking the three winners was very difficult indeed! Well done to all the writers!



  • First Place: My Uninvited Guest by ER Woods
  • Second Place: The Upside of Loneliness by Greta Zabrowski
  • Third Place: The Upside of Loneliness – Mother’s Day by Marjorie Mays
  • Highly commended: The Upside of Loneliness by Abigail Oliver

Charmaine Slater

Assistant Editor

Bedfordview and Edenvale News

Joburg East Express