Sudden Fiction Winners

Sudden Fiction Winners

Top 4 Sudden Fiction Winners

General comments from judge Angela Readman:-

Sudden Fiction involves much more than a short word count, the finest seem to jolt us awake and lure us to another place. I read the shortlist several times and was struck by the variety.

Often the stories had a dreamlike quality, from the fascinating world inside an ice cream man’s head in The Book of Naps, to the nursery rhyme cleverly utilised by The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon. Likewise, The Painting uses the repetition of the word genius to tell a wonderfully paced fantastical tale that makes us consider art and our attitudes towards artists.

In a different vein, the folk horror of The Halfman and the Catfish is a haunting fable about human nature that left me wondering about the mysterious half man.

Other writers preferred realism. The Door to Father’s Den is a family story elevated by the innocent perspective, simple joys and dreams of the girl who opens the door. The titular character in Not for Maggie wears her heart closer to their sleeve, we can’t help wanting to know more.

The story Gravity makes lost love a contemplation into distance and the weight of things building over time. Seven Ages of a Bathroom Cabinet also offers a reflection on time, a life skilfully drawn through small objects that mean more than their shelf life. The Jar is a deeply relatable story where a simple object takes on greater significance than its parts. In Surviving the Predictable, a game snakes of ladders becomes a delightful reminder of what it is to be human.

It wasn’t easy to pick a winner. Each story had its merits, many intrigued me, all deserved to be shortlisted. I allowed the stories to sit after I’d read them a few times and ultimately chose stories I kept thinking about afterwards, stories that made me remember sudden fiction is anything but sudden, great stories stay with us for years.

First Place
The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon by Cheryl O’Brien (UK)

The fantastical imagery of the children’s rhyme provides a startling contrast to a much darker tale. This felt like a story that could be told no other way, it offers no easy answers but asks questions about the function of imagination at a rattling pace.

Second Place

Not for Maggie by Alan Sincic (USA)

The beginning of this story felt like a seduction, the rhythm is stunning. I kept thinking about Maggie later, all the things that weren’t for her, I wondered what was. She was utterly vivid yet remained a mystery to me. A beautiful glimpse of the human condition.

Third Place

The Door to Father’s Den by Kelli Short Borges (USA)

I loved the structure of The Door to Father’s Den. The series of micros shows a girl moving through stages of her parents’ dissolving marriage. It’s difficult to write happy endings, yet the details sold me. I finished this story and found something rare in fiction, I felt hope.

Highly Commended

Seven Ages of the Bathroom Cabinet by Sue de Feu (Jersey, UK)

An impeccably structured story, as soon as I started reading I knew I was in safe hands. A whole life in so few words, beautifully done.

Congrats to the winning writers. The Top 10 stories will be published in The Plaza Prizes Anthology 2 this October.

The NEW Plaza Flash Fiction Prize (1000 words max) is open to enter. Judged by the brilliant David Gaffney. 1st prize: £1,000. Deadline: 31st March 2024.