Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 21, 2012

Stringybark Humorous Short Fiction Award

What is funny? You tell us! The is Stringybark Humorous Short Fiction Award is presented to the writer whose story entertains the judges the most. So that means anything goes — satire, slapstick, farce, comedy, murder mysteries, love stories, adventure tales, erotica, character sketches, outback yarns or whatever or wherever your fancy takes you — just make us laugh, smile or giggle.

The story must have a link (no matter how tenuous) to Australia. Stories are to be no more than 1500 words in length.

There is a total value of over $750 worth of prizes in cash and books available.

Award Winners receive:

First Prize – $350 cash + publication + certificate + e-book + paperback (Value $368)

Second Prize – $150 cash + publication + certificate + e-book + paperback (Value $168)

Third Prize – $75 cash + publication + certificate + e-book + paperback (Value $93)

Authors of highly commended stories may also be invited to have their stories published and if so receive a free copy of the e-book (Value approximately $131)

Entry Fees:

One story – $9.95

Two stories – $18.90

Three stories – $27.00

Stories must be sent via email. Closing date for entries is 24 November 2012. Winners will be notified by  February 27, 2013. 

NOTE: After you have submitted your entry you should receive a return email stating that your entry and payment has been received and registered. If you do not receive a confirmation email within seven days of submission, please contact us to check on your entry’s status. Occasionally the internet is not as reliable as everyone believes and emails do not arrive.

Here are a list of some of the reasons why stories haven’t made it into the merit list for a Stringybark Short Story Award written by David Vernon for Stringybark. 

1. Word length
Check that you have met the word length restrictions. If you are asked to produce a 1400 word story, do not submit 2000 words. It will not win, no matter how good it is. Writing to a word limit is an art in itself and by entering your story you are proving that you can master the art of writing. Stick to the word limit. If your story is one word over the limit, your story will not be able to win a place.

2.  Subject matter
Check that you are writing about the subject matter of the competition. If the theme is Australia and Australians, do ensure that your story relates somehow to this theme. A science fiction story based on Sisyphus 7 and the story of the evolution of Greenveltdsiskis and their subsequent intergalactic war will not hack it!

3.  Grammar and spelling
Whilst this is a relatively small part of the judging, it is an indicator of the pride in which you hold your work. If you can’t be bothered to ensure that typographical errors are eradicated and your grammar is accurate, why should the judges? It is not their job to proofread your work.

Few writers are capable of proofreading their own material. Do pass your story onto a friend, relative or colleague and ask them to read it for errors.

Sometimes a story is so good, that these problems will be overlooked and the writer will be asked to revise their story for publication. Don’t bet on it though.

3.  Characterisation
Check whether your character’s actions are reasonable given the plot and what we know about the character.

4.  Historical accuracy
If your story is set prior to WWII, then please don’t mention the Holocaust! Recently a story mentioned the character’s doing ‘high-fives’ and yet the story was set in 1976. ‘High-fives’ did not become known until 1978. We are sticklers for these things!

5.  Plot
Short stories that are not character sketches usually need a good strong plot. Do ensure that the plot you have chosen does not rest on too many coincidences or implausible events. Unless it is a fantasy competition, the judges are looking for some semblance of realism. 

Other constraints

In any competition there are usually a good swag of stories that are excellent and deserve publication. However, there are financial constraints on publication and therefore the horrible task of culling the excellent stories has to take place.

Stories that don’t please ALL the judges are likely to lose out at this stage. Stories that cover similar themes to other stories are also likely to be held back. For example, an anthology can only have one or two suicide stories. More and the book can become too depressing. Equally, three working dog stories in a row, also can become tedious (unless it is a working dog anthology of course!).

Beta reading and seeking feedback

This is the most important tip of all. Get someone (preferably several people) to read your submission. Ask them to comment on spelling, grammar, plot, style, characterisation and anything else that grabs them. Ask for a critical and honest appraisal. Feel free to reject their comments, but do ask for them!

My partner, Barb, is my first Beta Reader. If she tells me that what I have written is rubbish then I start again. After it has passed her critical eye, I then send it to three other friends for their comment. Only after they have commented do I put it out in the public domain. It’s a rigorous (and sometimes ego-damaging) exercise, but it significantly improves one’s writing.

Very few competitions offer opportunities to provide feedback to writers from the judges and therefore this makes your beta reading even more important. It is your beta readers who will provide the feedback although we now offer this service to readers. Click here to find out more.

Contemporary writing

Keep up with contemporary writing by reading other anthologies of short stories. Consider reading anthologies of previous winners. You cannot write award-winning material if you don’t read award-winning material! See the Bookshop for suggestions.

Keep writing

Finally, keep writing and refining your stories. Just because one of the stories you submitted to a Stringybark Short Story Award wasn’t published, doesn’t mean it won’t make it next time around. It well may, as we use different judges and combinations of judges for every competition and if your story is good enough, it will eventually make it!

Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This looks great. I hope I can write about my Australian disasters in time. Thanks for sharing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: