Over the past couple of months we’ve had the opportunity to experience story creation in a new way, as it happens. For each part of the serial award, we’re invited to not only read the story, but predict how it might be shaped and unfold in the future.
On the other side of the coin, the individual prompts provide authors competing in the ‘To The Nines’ Award a fresh set of challenges that they can only prepare for once the contest segment is released, creating a dialogue between the audience, author and contest.
Part 4 saw many of the stories heading in new an interesting directions. One thing the judges like to see is a segment that both adheres to the brief, builds compellingly on the previous serial, and can be enjoyed as a stand alone story. While that’s no easy task, these challenges engage our sense of reading and help to create modern fiction that combines the best elements of plot, setting and character, while holding our interest with the momentum of twists and turns.
Two stories this week stood out in particular. Both Nick Lachmund and Sophie Macdonald has received praise recently, and as the votes came in, it was clear these two would be fighting for top spot.
Nick’s Nine Greatest Deaths in the History of Marsden Creek Serial is a gruesome, darkly comic series of vignettes about horrible murders, hapless villians and small town fear linked by an envolving relationship of cause and effect. It’s chilling, macabre, and offers the occasional guilty giggle, as the people of Marsden Creek are maimed and killed in the strangest of circumstances.
Sophie Macdonald’s Old Ones serial also tends towards the disturbed, though which a much closer focus. A young boy, Matthew, is possessed by a malicious spirit known only as ‘Ninny’. This week’s episode, Blood On My Hands, reveals certain secrets about Matthew’s mother, Lisa, indicating a darker history and level of involvement than we had perhaps already considered.
Our winner this week has enjoyed a spate of recent wins, continually looking like 2016’s in form writer. Despite raising our barrier of expectation, we seem to find more reasons to like and appreciate her work.
Congratulations to Sophie Macdonald! Sophie’s Blood On My Hands inched past the finishing line a single point ahead of Nick’s Marsden Creek story. Well done Sophie on another well deserved victory.
Up now, we have the shortlist for the Poke The Mango Award, a contest that asks authors too look at the emerging impact of our virtual worlds.
Thanks for reading and supporting NiTH!