Last month I ran a small competition on the website – the challenge was to write a short story about coincidence in exactly 354 words; 354 being the number that’s hidden throughout my new book, She Is Not Invisible.
It’s a cliché to say it was hard to choose a winner, but it really was, especially as I was left choosing between four very different pieces. I would like to commend Kieran Salmon, Rob Perry and Joe Greaves for their entries, each so different from each other, and each very different from the winner, more of which below.
For me, the purpose of such a writing exercise, i.e. writing to some kind of restriction, even one as simple as an exact word count, is that it forces you to consider your words. When you’re paring down that 400 word draft to 354, you are made to consider every word for its merits. Every single word gets inspected and peered at and tested, and, if it doesn’t really merit being there; it has to go. So once in a while it’s a good exercise to try, to really sharpen up what you write. It’s all too easy to throw words on a page as if good ones are easy to come by. Personally I think it’s better to write fewer better ones, than more average ones…
If you entered the competition, thanks for doing so. Sorry we could only have one winner; competitions kind of suck, really, don’t they? But it was good to see so many cool stories, and as I said, it really was hard to choose the winner. (Incidentally, I was able to read the stories without knowing a thing about who wrote them).
The winner is called Of Grace and God and it’s by Ian Kenworthy. I liked it because it manages to do many things in a short space of time; it’s well written, it builds a small world in your head, and it’s poignant. Most of all though, I chose this story over the many other great entries because it manages to do one of the hardest things of all; it actually conveys that sense of strangeness that we feel when a coincidence happens to you. Having just written about book all about coincidences, I know that’s a deceptively hard thing to do, and Ian gets it just right. I hope you enjoy it too.
Of Grace and God by Ian Kenworthy