Winner Announcement: The Queen’s Cryptographer Part 2


The Queen’s Cryptographer Part 2

Winner Announcement

By Ash Warren


The craft of story writing is just that, a craft. A writer gets better at it by honing their writing skills in the development of certain key elements that are fundamental to all good stories. One of the most important of these is learning how to develop realistic, relatable characters, something which the short story genre makes especially challenging, and even more challenging when you have strict word limitations such as here.

It is interesting to note that the writers here have really risen to the task, not only creating great characters which are beginning to evolve within their plots, but also being able to infuse tension (vital to any short story) into their writing.

Sam Aro starts us off this week with his enigmatic tale Of Blood and Shadows:

It almost looked like someone had written something. But no, it wasn’t writing. Who would write one letter? One letter surrounded by a circle.

A disturbing feeling fell over Dan as he realized it. It was another mark. A circle surrounding the letter S.

Morgan Wood then takes up the baton with the next installment of her medieval Japanese quartet Misty Mountains and shows us that she knows how to extend the tension and develop the characters we found in her first piece:

“Your brothers left a letter but I cannot read it.” She procures a scroll from her kimono’s obi, opens it to me. The scribbles are foreign to me, the characters fluid things that swirled on the page. I take it, stare into the thin parchment. On the bottom was Naka’s insignia, and next to that a crude depiction of what seemed to be a cat. Oama’s doing.

“Naka always had a flare for the dramatics.” I whisper.

And lastly, and in first place again this week, many congratulations to our winner, Jessica Seymour with her quickly developing tale A Painted Map. I particularly like this cat scene:

Gerwar shoves the door open and Awi only has time to take in a splintered table and the awful reek of boiled ale before Gerwar shouts a warning and Grimsdatter hurls a ball of fur at them. Awi ducks the hissing, writhing mass, and turns to see a black cat land in the snow. A pot breaks and he ducks again.

Stay tuned for next week! And don’t forget to check out our new awards.