Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Short Stories

I head up to Derby tomorrow, presenting the short story awards for the annual City of Derby writing contest.

What makes a winner? I'll be articulating that on the train. In the meantime, here's a curious illustration, For a couple of classes here at Plymouth, I gave fifteen openings to stories, most of them contemporary. They came without the authors, titles etc attached, and had to compete it out. Which was the best short story opening?

A William Boyd story opening came third, and a George Mackay Brown one second, but here's the winner:

'No man will ever know the exact truth of this story; though women may sometimes whisper it to one another after a dance, when they are putting up their hair for the night and comparing lists of victims. A man, of course, cannot assist at these functions. So the tale must be told from the outside—in the dark—all wrong.'

A surprise choice, I thought. Rudyard Kipling's 'False Dawn' from his Plain Tales of the Raj. An oldie but a goodie.


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