Elizabeth Wein’s gripping novel, Code Name Verity, is about two young women who become best friends while working for the British war effort during World War II. Their friendship is tested when Verity is captured by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France. We challenged you to write a story about two friends with a deep connection. You wrote, voted, and we sent the finalists to Elizabeth to judge. Today, we are excited to announce the winners of the Code Name Verity short-story contest.
Here are the top three winners:
Elizabeth wrote: “The world-building was vivid, plausible, and self-contained, enhanced with many concrete details like street names (“Clatterpole”), the image of Jem wheeling her cello in a baby carriage, colored lights being blown out in a string of paper lanterns. These details were woven into the story effortlessly and naturally.
“The image of the kite and spool, referred to throughout the story, made a lovely metaphor for the girls’ friendship, and because it was used so well, the gift of the kite at the end of the story was instantly symbolic to the reader as well as to Jem.”
Well done, Anande! You will receive copies of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Secret Letters by Leah Scheier, A World Away by Nancy Grossman, Lucky Fools by Coert Voorhees, Ditched by Robin Mellom, and Double by Jenny Valentine.
Elizabeth wrote: “This is the STORY THAT MADE ME CRY. This story met with flying colors all my criteria for being well-structured, tight, self-contained, and about friends sharing a deep connection—a tragic connection in this case. The author also gets bonus points for excellent visual imagery (the zebra-striped bathing suits, painted toenails, melting Popsicles, hospital air-conditioning. . .). Fabulous.”
Elizabeth wrote: “Overall this story is well-structured and moving—in all senses of the word. The plot moves through time, covering a number of years between elementary school and high school, and it’s emotionally moving too. The reader is stricken along with Shyloh to discover that Jace is going to die. And I wonder how Shyloh will cope now with her difficult life without the support of her best friend”
Congratulations to all of the finalists!
The top stories are the ones I feel best represent the contest’s actual theme: two friends with a deep connection. After that, I looked for a coherent and well-structured plot—after all, this is meant to be a short story. That doesn’t mean a well-written section from a longer work couldn’t stand out, but it makes it harder on the writer of an extract. None of these top stories rely on an info-dump or summary to draw the reader into their world; they are self-contained.
Also, I have to ask you people, WHAT IS WITH ALL THE DEATH? In these 10 [finalist] stories we’ve got the deaths of four moms, four friends, one dad, and one baby. I am a little worried these are based on personal experience (it is true that my mom died in a car accident when I was 14). If so, then I want to congratulate the authors on using fiction as a form of catharsis. . . . You might like to know that nothing I wrote as a teenager was so well-structured, so well-detailed, or so emotionally wrenching as these tales—truth—and I hope these writers will go far. It was a pleasure reading these entries and being introduced to all this raw talent. Thank you for giving me so much to think about, and I hope I’ve encouraged all the writers to continue to produce such well-crafted and moving stories in the future.