Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer is a regular visiting speaker on our creative writing courses. He has sales of over 270 million copies in 97 countries and his 17 novels have been translated into more than 37 languages. He has written six collections of short stories, three plays, three children’s books, three volumes of prison diaries and a Gospel. As you’d expect from a master storyteller, writing economically is something of a strength, and Jeffrey always likes to set our students the challenge of telling him a tale in just a few words. So, in a session last Wednesday, he asked our 15 creative-writing students to write a 100-word short story – with a proper beginning, middle and end – from which he would choose a winner. These are the three Curtis Brown Creative stories that won the 2015 challenge:
In third place:
‘Louis Vuitton’ by Lesley Cheetham
The Louis Vuitton is packed, prepared. He has seven minutes to the final destination.
His footsteps are swift, yet measured. His eyes stare ahead, seeing glory.
Two men approach him from behind, long legs running fast. A cry, a punch, his head hits the ground, pain swimming among silver stars.
The pavement bleeds. Body frisked, bag seized.
The men shout, hands hit high five, a final boot in the ribs. Their running footsteps fade. He drags himself up. One minute left. He closes his eyes. The explosion is loud.
The Louis Vuitton, the attackers, his martyrdom, all gone.
In second place:
‘Brotherhood’ by Abigail DelBianco
Duke University 2014
In hooded robe the pledgemaster grabbed the pledge’s shoulders.
‘You’ve come far. But to join the Delta brotherhood you must cross the Styx.’
He gestured—brothers shouting and smashing beer bottles, creating a river of broken glass.
The pledge in a diaper. Barefoot.
‘YOU WANNA JOIN DELTA?’
Brothers grabbed brooms and he prepared for another beating.
They blindfolded him. He shotgunned a beer, readied himself.
The brothers moved fast with the brooms, cleared the glass, replaced it with crisps.
And he ran sightless through the harmless crisp river, screaming all the way.
And in first place…
‘Whim’ by Joanne O’Connor
‘Tea’s cold.’ He banged the cup on the bedside table and picked up the letter from Dignitas.
‘All confirmed. I’m in Business. You’re in Economy.’
She nodded and padded downstairs.
The post thudded onto the doormat.
She put the kettle on and scanned a letter from the hospital.
… apologies… human error at the laboratory… Ronald does not have Parkinson’s.
There was a shout from upstairs.
‘Where’s my tea?’
She took a breath, tore up the letter and dropped it into the bin with the teabag.
She was a good wife. She catered to her husband’s every whim.
As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our three- and six-month novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.