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Hampshire Writing Society Monthly Competition 2024

Februrary 2024

Brief: Follow storyblocks link below. Listen to the thriller music samples on the first page and select a piece of music or sound effect which inspires you to write a 300 words psychological thriller piece.  Storyblocks

In Cold and Tender Water – Chapter 1

DCI Charlie Wykeham had received the poem three days before the body was found. Written with quill and ink, its coarse handmade paper contrasted sharply with the crisp, white envelope in which it had been delivered to Wykeham’s home address. The postmark indicated it had been posted in Winchester the day before. At the time, he had been both intrigued and mildly concerned but there had been no obvious action he could take, except to carefully file the envelope and letter in an evidence bag in his office desk. Now, as he walked past the boathouse and followed the river downstream, the words of the poem resurfaced in his mind.

    While fields submit to winter's white campaign,

    clouds kiss and bruise the hills with grey,

    the wind pins the sky to earth's window frame

    and I flee the town to climb my favourite way.

    Atop the hill, the hard and frosty sward

    is cut by dark and winding lines.  I ask what strange,

    mad maze is this, with only but a single path?

    No answer heard, just winter's wild refrain.

    You could not know whose feet would trace your craft.

    But now my steps between the frigid turf

    decode your labyrinthine cryptograph

    and bring me to the centre of your work. 

    And though you’re gone, I still remain, a mourner

    To your death below, in cold and tender water.

After a minute of trudging through the soft mud and puddles of the towpath, Wykeham came to a small tableau.  Stopping at the Crime Scene – Do Not Enter tape, he nodded to a uniformed constable who recorded Wykeham’s arrival on a clipboard. A figure dressed head to toe in blue coveralls emerged from the white tent that had been erected by the riverside, and seeing Wykeham, came over. As she removed her mask, he saw it was the pathologist, Dr Rebecca Ferguson.

“Early days of course, but there are several indications this may not have been an accidental drowning.”

(329 words)

(This received a Highly Commended)

March 2024

Brief: Picture Book Text.  

In no more than four spreads of a picture book (less than 250 words) write something that comes from your heart.

Illustration notes will not be included within word count.

Amy Sparkes’ Story Godmother site has a useful page on writing in picture book spreads. See link here.

Banana and Elephant go to the Park

Spread 1

A summer day, a green park, with trees and a skateboard bowl

Banana and Elephant in the park one day,

Enjoying the sunshine and seeking some play.

They came across a big concrete bowl in the ground

And on the top was a plank with wheels round and round.

Spread 2


Banana jumped on the plank - and whizzed across the bowl.

He zoomed up the side, he was in perfect control.

That looks fun’’ said Elephant. “Can I have a go?”

Elephant hrumphed down his trunk. He wanted to do it too.


So, Elephant tried to get on the board,

But there was only room for two of his feet and not all four.

Then he thought of the humans he’d seen at the zoo

And reared up in the air so he was standing on two.

Spread 3


Elephant sped down the bowl at a tremendous rate.

‘How do I steer,’ he trumpeted, though really it was too late.

He came off the board with a terrible crump!

And came back to earth with a sickening bump!!


Elephant looked to see what Banana thought of his fall

But nowhere could he see Banana, not anywhere at all.

But underneath Elephant he felt something rather soggy.

Oh dear, Banana’s skin was now a full three feet from his body.

Spread 4

Elephant said, “I’m afraid there’s nothing for it

Because no one can ever unmake a banana split”.

So, he eat the banana and was heard to remark:

“A banana skin can cause a nasty accident in a skateboard park”.

(243 words)

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