top of page

Hampshire Writing Society Monthly Competition 2023

January 2023

Brief: Injecting as much pathos as possible, and with an utterly sincere tone, write a scene of emotional transformation set in the world of a children's board game. 300 words.

(oops, I missed this one)

Februrary 2023

Brief: Write the opening of a story with a mix of magic and nature. 300 words. 

The Withered Wand

A single floorboard creaked. Edward, king of the potato pixies was leading the way and looked around to see who the culprit was. The foxglove fairies were as light as, well foxgloves, and they simply floated over the dining room floor.  But the elderberry elves, they were a different matter.

‘Eldred’, he hissed, ‘put a sock in it’.

Eldred glared back: ‘Do you mind? - maybe we look all the same to you but I’m an elf, not a dwarf. Even vegetable kings should know that elves don’t wear socks.’

King Edward started to reply and then thought better of it. There were more important things to concentrate on. The fairies were nearly at the kitchen door, and the whole thing was going to get out of hand unless he got back to the front. Edward simply had to be the first into the kitchen. How else were they going to recover the magic beanstalk wand that Jack the gardener had unknowingly picked up amongst the runner bean harvest that afternoon?

Running forward Edward quickly got back to his customary lead position.  Then they were all bunching up behind him, as the kitchen door loomed up above them. But how could they get through the door? The door handle was a good four feet above him.

‘Princess Paella’, he said, ‘Can you fly up and pull the handle open?’

The fairy princess pursed her lips, folded her arms and said: ‘Of course I can.’

There was a pause.

‘Well, will you then?’

‘You need to say the magic word first.’

‘Pretty please,’ King Edward sighed, thinking the princess knew nothing about proper magic.

Princess Paella fluttered her eyelashes back at King Edward and then fluttered her wings equally charmingly as she rose up and sat on the door handle. There was a click and the door swung slightly open. Through the crack, King Edward could see an eerie glow.

‘Follow me!’ he said. And so they did.

(327 words)

March 2023

Brief: Write a 300-word crime fiction scene in which the body is discovered.

Murder in the Mourning

The man lies across the doorstep of the church, his face covered by a fedora. A line of ants march from under the torso, carrying fragments of biscuit crumbs to a hideout in the unkempt shrubbery by the church door.  The church clock strikes seven and in the serenity after the chimes cease the top half of a dark figure can be seen gliding along the path beyond the graveyard wall. A baby cries, and the figure vanishes briefly as it bends down behind the wall. The crying is gradually replaced by the mellifluous tones of a soft Edinburgh accent.


     “Sleep, bonnie boy, like a bird on the wing….”

    The baby chortles as it tries but fails to join the tune.

    The lychgate swings open and in the strengthening morning light, the figure can be seen to be a young woman in a formal nanny uniform pushing a gleaming black “Harrods Premier’ pram.  The woman wears no makeup or jewellery. A modest hemline, ramrod straight stocking seams and the crisp creases in her blouse complete the impression of effortless efficiency.  Still singing to the baby, she continues up the path to the Church door, stopping abruptly at:

    “Well, the claymore may wield….”

    “Well, Father, this is an unusual way to greet your parishioners”.

    She bends down and removes the empty bottle of communion wine from the priest’s grasp and pokes the priest gently in the midriff.

    “That must have been quite a midnight Mass, Father.”

The poking having little effect, the nanny sighs and, carefully bending her knees to use the recommended lifting technique, she rolls the priest over onto his back. This reveals a crushed packet of communion biscuits – now emptied by the industrious ants and a deep scarlet stain on the flagstones.   A matching red flush blooms on the nanny’s cheeks as she realises the stain is not wine but blood from a deep wound in the priest’s chest.

[321 words]

April 2023

Brief:  Write a 500-word pitch for a film/play about any English monarch alive or dead.

The Drowned Crown

Elevator Pitch

Rejected by Charlotte, NATO chaplain Peter becomes a criminal to rescue Anya. 25 years later, helped by an Anglo-Saxon monk, Peter must repay his debt to protect those he loves.


In 1982, Peter and Charlotte are students at Winchester University. They are lovers, but she finds him dull and needy. Rejected, Peter joins the church after university. Under the Bishop’s mentorship, Peter goes to Yugoslavia to support NATO troops. Deeply affected by the warm he illegally brings Anya, a war orphan, back to Winchester, misappropriating church funds to do this. With the Bishop’s help, Anya is adopted by Charlotte (who is now married). Anya has a normal upbringing and becomes a software engineer.

In 2010, Rachel, the Winchester Oxfam shop manager, receives a package of old books from the bishop’s assistant and finds documents revealing the fraud inside one of them. She blackmails Peter and the Bishop.

Barbara, living alone in Parchment St, receives a misaddressed letter.  On a whim she opens it. It is a letter from Katerina to her lost daughter, Anya, who is not an orphan after all as Katerina survived the war. Barbara, who is depressed after the breakdown of her marriage is moved by the letter and, feeling lonely, writes back to Katerina impersonating Anya without thinking about the long-term consequences.

The Church’s accounts are hacked, and Anya is assigned by her software firm to recover the problem. She examines the backup accounts and discovers Peter’s fraud and confronts him. He shows her an old book, describing the drowning pool in the Cathedral crypt. The manuscript, written in 1093 by Benedictine monk, Father Hugh, says that pool, which is actually a well, is a portal in time. The manuscript also describes a priceless artefact hidden in the pool by Father Hugh in 1093 to keep it from the Normans. Peter dives in the pool and exchanges consciousness with Father Hugh. In 2010, Anya persuades Father Hugh (in Peter’s body) that he mut, when he returns to the 12th century, rebury the crown in the walls of the then new Norman Cathedral. In 1093 Peter (in Father Hugh’s body) writes the manuscript that Peter will eventually find in 2010. Peter (in 1093) and Hugh (in 2010) dive in the pool once more and reinhabit their original bodies.

Peter and Anya recover the Anglo-Saxon crown in 2010 from the Cathedral wall. It is sold, and proceeds used to repay the original fraud. 

Anya and Rachel have a heart-to-heart talk, and Anya persuades Rachel that blackmail is a sin, and Rachel agrees to stop the blackmail. When Katerina travels to Winchester, Barbara has to admit she does not know where Anya is. However, Katerina attends a cathedral service and recognises Peter from 20 years before and Katerina and Anya are reunited. Peter mediates between her and Barbara. Peter decides to take one last dive in the well to visit Hugh and tell him how the plan worked out. Final scene shows Anya waiting for Peter’s body to resurface from the pool. It never does.

[512 words]

bottom of page