At last, we’ve made a decision. It wasn’t easy. These were, by far, some of the strongest pieces of writing we’ve seen in our workshops. More than that, their authors worked hard to polish each paragraph, each line, to a point we believe their stories are ready to submit for mainstream publishing opportunities. That was the goal of this contest—to reach beyond Writers’ Block regulars, deep into the Steemit community, and prove that with a little help from a few editors, the talent here is every bit as formidable as talent in the larger literary world.
We believe we succeeded.
Each of these five finalists will receive a substantial SBD or STEEM reward for their effort. Sponsors are still offering to contribute, so an exact amount can't be announced yet. The minimum is 10 SBD or STEEM (depending on which has the higher value at the time) for the overall winner, and 5 SBD or STEEM for each of the four other finalists. Already, the minimum is far surpassed.
Our overall winner submitted an early draft that barely hinted at the complexities further revision would bring out. By her second or third draft, however, we were starting to see a brilliant story emerging. Reading this entry is a sheer pleasure. Voice is strong, distinct, and rich in texture and tone. Characters are drawn beautifully, with detail that is succinct and sometimes startling, but always true to life. The plot is tense, heartbreaking, and drives forward with a drumbeat of finality that carries the story all the way to the end.
Congratulations to @anikekirsten for her overall win with “Almost Everyone.” It’s an authentic tale of family and priorities, with a futuristic twist that stays well within the realm of possibility. We wish Anike the best with this piece and will continue to be actively supportive whether she decides to publish it to Steemit or submit to mainstream publishers. We believe literary magazines would be remiss to pass on this one.
Another needle pierces my skin. I wince. Nurse Mukami looks at me from over the rim of her glasses. I should be used to this by now. Along my arm are the scars of scientific curiosity. They riddle my body in a decorative patchwork–some whitened, others still pink. I stare at the green and bluish-brown patches littering my wrist, colouring around the black dots on my skin. More butterfly needles have been up my arms than a Morphi-2 addict’s.
In alphabetical order by username, the other four finalists are also prizewinners. These pieces are also strong contenders for mainstream literary publication. We can’t say enough good things about these stories.
BEST ORIGINAL DRAFT goes to @ellievallie, for “The Human Touch.” Right from the start, we knew this story would be in the finals. It’s a solid piece of writing with a relevant message, and presented initially with a very strong draft that told us this author is very much in control of her prose.
David leaned against a backstage wall the following afternoon, mentally reviewing what he wanted to say. All of his other speeches had relied on notes uploaded into the tablet on the podium. This one would come from the heart.
The digital coin flip selected him to speak first. Sal made sure of that. His friend offered him a damp cloth.
“If this doesn’t work, we might both end up in jail.”
David grinned, using the cloth to wipe the sweat from the back of his neck.
“If it does work, I’ll pardon you.”
BEST LINE goes to @steemedchitty for “Hans Crashed Into His Reflection.” Chitty managed to take a phrase known for being cliché and tweaked it to have multiple shades of meaning. It was a masterful twist of an old standby that had our editors buzzing with excitement.
He couldn’t see behind him, but he was sure the gun was never too far. They reached the bridge, an old thing built over a deep, dark river; the same one that crossed the city. He walked along the railing on the edge of the old bridge, occasionally looking down. The cold winds made him shiver. The water would be colder than the wind.
Would he still be there to feel it?
Behind him, the footsteps stopped. He stopped as well, looking at the other side of the bridge. He’d been so close. Where had he slipped? He’d taken every measure to remain in control.
“Turn around, Hans.” It was time to meet his maker.
MOST IMPROVED, without a doubt, goes to @valued-customer, for “Fresh Meat.” This horrifying tale had a stellar premise from the very first draft, but told from various points of view, it was quite a task for anyone to take on. Execution of the writing was a make-it-or-break-it deal in this case, and valued-customer had his work cut out for him. He rose to the occasion, though, and delivered a solid final draft that leaves you chilled long after you’ve read the last word.
Civilians caught in the crossfire were the worst cause of American casualties, not the weapons of their enemies. Politicians and bean-counters couldn't understand. They had never liberated a village and marched in to see the children withered by white phosphorus.
Too many of his troops had. The wounds in their souls were harder to heal than any others, yet all too easy to cure with just one lead pill. Swallowing his bile, and his pride, he kept his mien of iron.
He had seen those tiny, shriveled bodies, too.
BEST MESSAGE goes to @witchguard, for “Living the Dream.” This story hits hard. It’s very visceral, and it tackles the issue of human rights when applied to non-human entities. How much is too much? How far is too far? How real is too real? Witchguard doesn’t leave us with any answers, but he certainly leaves us with a lot of things to think about.
Administrators have initiated a forced close.
I wasn’t surprised they initiated it early, and there was nothing I could really do about it. It was worth a shot I suppose. Everything became dark again. What a shame that it couldn’t have stayed that way. Consciousness filled my mind like water in a tank that I couldn’t escape from. It wasn’t so much unlike water in a tank, really, when I didn’t want to wake up. It was like drowning in a reality that I had no interest returning to, from a dream I had no interest in leaving.
Soon, we hope to report mainstream publication of at least one, if not all of these stories. We can’t thank their authors enough for participating in this contest. Their doing so has added permanent value to the sci-fi literary community with the contribution of these outstanding pieces of fiction.