For November, the theme for the Txtlit writing competition was "The Gamble". The winner was 40 year old Neil Renton who lives with his wife Sarah and referees the fights for between his two kids Saul and Lexi. Neil, who currently works in the finance industry tells us he has always enjoyed writing and loves to enter the Txtlit competitions each month, expressing how he thinks Txtlit has really helped him to improve his writing skills. The tight character limit makes him analyse what he'd normally write and thereby helps him focus on the important things he tries to say in a short window. In his spare time Neil has been lucky enough to edit lifestyle publications and write sports reports for a newspaper. He has previously had short stories published and, like any would be writer, Neil feels that he has at least one novel inside him waiting to come out. He hopes his Txtlit win will give him the confidence to keep writing.
You certainly upped your game for November and we thought the overall standard of entries was very high. What we liked was how very differently the theme of The Gamble was interpreted; for us, that's a sign of a well chosen competition theme. We loved Neil Renton's entry because of the brilliantly delivered twist. We really didn't see it coming and the fact that it came in one short word really added to the impact. To begin with we think this is just another gambler who has reached a low point. The pressure of what we think is the bet he is about to place has caused his hands to sweat and the betting slip weighs heavy in his hand. With the protagonist's entire future riding on the outcome we're thinking that this is a last ditch effort for him. All or nothing. A final chance. The tension is built and we are left suspended for a few seconds more as the betting slip is slid across the counter to the cashier. We're a little confused. If the betting slip is for a known result then a seasoned gambler such as this will already know whether he is due to collect any winnings. If he's placing a bet then he still has to wait for the the race to know the outcome. So when the cashier looks up and cries "Yes", what can it mean? Of course. Our gambler has asked the cashier to marry him and has written his proposal on a betting slip. The gamble was That she might say "no". A great story with great construction and brilliantly delivered twist. Classic Txtlit.
Other shortlisted entries:
Confined by marriage. Twelve happy years. Now confused by an explosion of lust. Tempted by blue eyes and flattery. I could loose it all. Our lips meet.
By Emma Bennett
Black. All on black. It was not the thrill of gain which drove him, but the thrill of losing everything. The sheer possibility of nothingness. Yes, black.
By Nuala Flynn
As the red lights begin to flash, he accelerates. The bike clocks seventy; as ducking under the lowering barriers he crosses in front of the 9.47 express
By Rosemary Lewis