In Siobhan Vivian’s The List, eight high-school girls get called out for their looks. Four are named the prettiest in school. Four are named the ugliest. The List follows all of the girls’ reactions to their names being on the list: the pressure of the prettiest and and the heartbreak of the ugliest.
Inspired by the dichotomous divide in The List, we challenged you to write a story from the perspective of someone considered either “hot” or “ugly.” You wrote stories that are sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes funny, and the ten most hearted entries were sent to Siobhan Vivian herself for judging.
And the winners are . . .
“This is such a beautiful character piece. Everything about it feels unique and special. I love that you talk about beauty and strength, but not in a totally straightforward way. You have some beautiful imagery and humor in here, too. I adore the line about the nutritional value of stickers. It really left me thinking about these two girls and what their lives are like, where they are both headed. Wonderful!”
“What a great and haunting idea. I think sometimes we imagine that if we looked “perfect” that it would solve all our problems. But I love that as this character undergoes a physical transformation, she loses herself. It’s really well written, with great pacing. And I think you picked the perfect place to start this story. I was immediately engaged because you threw us right into the action. Excellent job!”
“I love the voice of this character, and the surprise that she’s not ugly . . . she just values the wrong things. And I love that you really make me feel the “envy” in this piece. It’s not just a definition you start with. I actually believe that it’s something this main character struggles with. And the last line is absolutely killer!”
Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone for participating!
Were you a finalist? Siobhan left comments for all ten finalist stories. Check out her additional thoughts!
“I love how immediately engaging this story is! From that first “breaking news” bulletin, I wanted to read more! It’s a really moody, visually interesting and high-stakes place to begin. Well done!”
“This is such a powerful story. I love the pacing, all the bits of description, and the voice of this character. I think my favorite part is your use of the word “trap”. Oddly, it doesn’t give off the vulnerability and powerlessness that this character might feel. There’s something dangerous about the word. It’s an excellent dichotomy.”
“I think my favorite part of this piece is the ending. It’s not like all her problems were solved, but she got a bit of happiness. I also love the idea of being “untouchable” but having the exact opposite happen . . . that everyone wants a piece of you. Really great!”
I was particularly struck with the action in this piece. From one movement to the next, everything is really visual and easy to follow. Also, I love a story where a character like this jerk gets a bit of comeuppance.
“This piece is just lovely! The prose is beautiful, and you really let us into the inner workings of this particular character’s mind and her inner turmoil. I particularly enjoyed all the star metaphors. They were very original and well-drawn. This prose is so pretty, it almost reads like poetry!”
“I’m really interested in the idea of how something like a terminal diagnosis changes the way you behave and act. Why can’t we all just be nice for niceness sake?!? The torment that Laurie receives in this story is haunting, and ambivalence toward bullying can sometimes be crueler than the bullying itself. Fascinating stuff!”
“I absolutely love this story, and this wise little girl! This is such a cute relationship, and a great lesson that you don’t need someone to ask for forgiveness in order to forgive them. Lovely!”