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“Please, sir, I want some more…time” may be the refrain heard from Grade 11, 12 and OC students across the valley at the upcoming 9th Annual 3-Hour Short Story Contest at Okanagan College.
Aspiring authors looking for a challenge will need to make careful use of the 180 minutes they’ll be given to craft a compelling original short story at the contest, which is held on Oct. 13 from 1 – 4 p.m. at each of the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.
The clock won’t be the only obstacle during the competition. Students will also be required to work a mystery phrase into their story, revealed at the start of the contest. Participants in previous years had to incorporate phrases such as “frozen fish sticks,” “downy mustache,” “soggy bread” and “under the weather” into their story.
“The clock forces writers to not second guess themselves and trust their instincts while writing. Quite often they’ll produce a surprising result that undoubtedly helps to advance their artistic development and style,” says Dr. Sean Johnston, contest organizer and an English Professor at the College. “The pressure is liberating and I think that is why we see budding authors of all ages and levels enter the contest.”
Writers will be competing for funds they can apply toward tuition. A judging panel made up of members of the College’s English department will review stories and select four winners, one from each region. Each winner will receive a $250 tuition credit and an overall grand prize winner will take home an additional $500 tuition credit and have their story published in a limited fine-press edition by the Kalamalka Press – the College’s printing press located at the Vernon campus.
7,200 seconds and 919 words was all it took for last year’s winner, Hannah Stanley, to take home the top prize of $750 for her original story “The Best Years of Our Lives.”
“I woke up in the morning feeling very uninspired and I went into the contest without any prior story ideas or anything worked out in my head in advance,” says Stanley, a recent OC Associate of Arts graduate. “It wasn’t until the clock started and I heard the mystery phrase that I found inspiration and knew what I was going to write about.”
The contest is free to enter and registration is open until midnight on Friday, Oct. 12. For more details, contest rules and to register, please visit Okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting.