25-word Short Story Challenge: Winner and top 50!

Back on the shortest day of the year, we put out a simple challenge to you – write us a 25-word story. The only rule was that it contain the words “violin” and “victory”. The rest was up to you. The one we judged our favourite would win free access to our new Short Story Essentials course.

We received more than 1000 entries. With only 25 words to work with, we marvelled at your creativity! Congratulations to all those who entered a story (or more than one).

Considering the two mandatory words, it may be unsurprising to learn that we received a large number of:

  • violinists on stage (hoping for victory!)
  • parents wishing for their child to master their violins
  • characters being played like violins (while their opponent claimed victory)
  • victory marches to the music of a violin.

Stories that tried something different often stood out – and you may see that reflected in many of the entries below.

We judged the stories “blind” – there were no names attached to them. Short Story Essentials course creator Cathie Tasker then selected the winner from these. (And because it was blind judging, you may notice that a few people got more than one of their stories in this showcase – well done to them!) As always, it’s a subjective process and your views may differ from ours.

Remember, writing a 25-word story is a very different proposition to writing a 2500-word one. Which is why we know that everyone – even the winner – will learn plenty from our Short Story Essentials course.

Thanks again to all those who entered! Enjoy reading this selection…

WINNING STORY – Geoff Croucher (VIC)

Sweating tears of triumph the Nullarbor Busker conquers Bach's Chaconne.
His victory unseen, unheard.
Still no coins in his violin case.
Nevertheless he bows.

Feedback from Cathie Tasker (creator of Short Story Essentials):
I was attracted to the active language, and yet the piece was very evocative. I was transported to the moment on the Nullarbor, and shared the character’s poignant pride in the face of adversity. I had the impression that his spirit had soared, but this euphoric moment went unnoticed by his audience … or … did he have an audience at all? A tragic twist.

OUR TOP 50 (in no particular order)

Embarrassed by his violin-high voice, he took extra victory laps to avoid speaking on camera. The steroids worked, but they came at a price.
– Anna McEvoy

Long, slender neck, feminine curves. Victory, she's mine at last! On pulsing, rhythmic strokes we rise. Higher, faster … Crescendo! My latest love, a violin.
– Carmel Hill

A Victory Medal displayed proudly on his chest. Scarred hands coaxed sorrowful notes from an old violin. Pennies scattered in the case at his feet.
– Chanel Crozier

Mother’s antique violin case was the perfect makeshift coffin for her spoilt, skittish, confrontational cat. The plan, while unpalatable was meticulously executed. Victory was mine.
– Amanda Bulmer

Police victory, infamous Mr Vargas apprehended! Vargas explained, “I chose to play the double base because you can't hide a corpse in a violin case”.
– Mandy Wilson

Here lies Victory. Winner of the 2016 Golden Violin Under 12's Show Jumping Championship. Run wild and free. We do not blame you. 2014 – 2017.
–Aaron Thomas

Sniff….Sniff. Maddening. Like a dripping tap. The commuter raises her violin…thwack…feeling victory at the crumpled form, the blessed silence. Then…sniff…SNIFF!
– Corinne Mackenzie

Larry Cockroach crept across the floor towards the discarded violin. Pedro Spider used his eight legs to claim victory in the ‘Race To The Bridge'.
– Annette Smith

The bed springs screeched like an untuned violin, but as the woman atop him moaned his name, all he heard was the sounds of victory.
– Dannielle Line

The Winged Victory stands resolute against the forceful sea wind, drapery sculpted over violin hips. Tourists surge through the Louvre, taking selfies, unmoved by history.
– Alyssa Mackay

A gangster with a violin case! Surely sub-machine gun death. But no, a viola. He played Devil Went Down To Georgia. A victory over stereotyping.
– Alan Baxter

He was born in the hollows of a brittle, dust-covered violin.
His first web, so carefully weaved between strings, twanged, then stilled. Victory was his.
– Nicole Whyte

She raised the heavy statue high as though in victory and brought it down on his skull, turning the white marble violin a speckled red.
– Erin Sladen

“Shut your F holes, you whining diva!” the cello said triumphantly. A hollow victory, though – the devilish violin had replaced his endpin with a crayon.
– Anna McEvoy

Winter withdraws. Whale song sounds, like sweetly-played violins. The frolicsome pod heads north. One last victory wave, they submerge and are gone for another season.
– Helen Carter

“The names are Victor and Viola, not victory and violin,” he growled. “Your system is ri-di-cu-lous.” A pause. “Holiday ruined because of technology! Full refund!”
– Anu Besson

The violin stuck against her head. Alexia stumbled stunned by the irony. Weren't composers more … composed? She fell. His victory came with strings attached.
– Jasmine Stuart

Jim died today. The leftover snags from his fundraiser expire tomorrow. So what's that sound? Defeat's jaws snapping victory caught. And violins. The non-sarcastic sort.
– Andrew Cahill

She looked forward to her son's violin lessons. Thirty minutes to indulge in steamy fantasies involving his tutor. It was a victory to sit still.
– Jo Mackenzie

Grandad would turn in the grave, his precious violin staked for a poker game. I pray to him anyway. Pair of aces. Enough for victory?
– Alicia Bakewell

The meat tenderising mallet in his belt and his violin case under his arm, the hitchhiker could sense another victory as the next car slowed.
– Kevin Robins

How different our lives are, yours a glorious victory march blasted out by countless trumpets, mine a sad soliloquy scratched out on a tuneless violin.
– Helen Andrew

He wooed her with his violin, promising symphonic passion.
He lied.
Ten laters year she garrotted him with its E string.
An aptly harmonious victory.
– Emma Weekly

His violin shaped nose, whistles.
His face so close, sour breath warms my cheek.
CRACK! My tooth relents.
“Victory,” said the old dentist. “She's out.”
– Kim Lester

Violin. Viola. Vial. Vital. The possibilities would have been endless. But alas – there was no V for victory in her scrabble hand.
– Louise Newton-Keogh

A short man with a long fuse, mean fiddling was his muse. Burnt out, by a syndrome. He defeated sadness, with his violin. A Victory.
– Aaron White

Victor the vibrator completes the final shudder of his victory dance, having successfully invoked a piercing violin-like squeal from the supine woman.
– Mandy Wilson

With his violin he led the rats a merry dance to where the cats were waiting. The victory was bloody but worth the fish.
– Cassandra Kavanagh

Her nerves like a plucked violin. Twanging. Beating heart, too fast. The inner critic, applauding its victory, wraps itself around her like a boa constrictor.
– Mandy Wilson

Colours explode like confetti. Shrieks like a discordant violin as a Fantale strikes Billy's eye. Tom raises the bat, shouts ‘Victory!' The piñata is defeated.
– Alyssa Mackay

Smashing their instruments was the ultimate post-show victory. If only it had been a rock concert, not a Mozart recital. His violin was ruined.
– Jo Jukes

Victory was nigh. A capsule in his Pimms had the virtuoso riveted to the toilet for the night. She sipped whisky, and tuned her violin.
– Maria Griffin

“How long have you played violin?” “Since I was a kid.” CRACK! The chiropractor claimed victory in her neck. “You should take up the piano.”
– Anna McEvoy

Her envied violin figure the constant reminder of heartbreak for so many years, is hers no more. Victory it seems, is round as a drum.
– Melissa Baldrey

He is playing the brown violin.
She is winning a big victory.
They are eating the cold cake.
God I hate conjugating bloody French verbs.
– David Butler

Orchestral ovations led to a very violent violin victory….the drum duo disintegrated in defeat but the tenacity of the trombone trio was truly touching.
– Jane Pye

Victory is mine, thought the viola – for, he'd loosened one of the violin's strings. The harp winked at him as the D-chord approached…
– Bianca O’Neill

Five down, violin, then we use the v, victory, that fits. Right, done. He shook the pins and needles out of his foot and flushed.
– Melissa Favasuli

A violin case for a pillow, she slept rough for eight nights. Victory came in the form of an email from her mother, asking forgiveness.
– Arne Sjostedt

…”Tomato Adams?” Tick. “Victory Smith?” Tick. “Violin Noonan?” Tick. The teacher finishes the roll call wondering if she'll ever teach another John or Jane again.
– Michelle Rule

Victory waited. Patient, she tracked her unsuspecting prey. When the time was right she leapt with a violin-like shriek, savaging his ankles ferociously. “Damn cat!”
– Allison Roberts

The groomsman fiddled with his buttons as the violin started. The bride, hard as wood, looked away. He pondered their night together – a hollow victory.
– Carla Fitzgerald

The door scraped like a kid killing a violin. Sharkey slipped into the dark street, hefting the guilty bag. There. The neighbour's bin. Sly victory.
– Miranda Gott

A chin tucked in tight as fingers drew a victory march along the strings of the violin. A triumphant rise followed by a stunning silence.
– Alexandra Marchant

Violin and Banjo lay on the table. Violin, feeling pear shaped, tightened its strings and … victory! Banjo tried to look ironic as Violin was purchased.
– Andrea Wilson

Eric held her violin shaped figure breathing in woody scents of smoked pear. His lips quivered with victory & defeat as he finished the bottle.
– Phillipa McCormack

A spray of water drops. A plumed tail wagging victory salutes. With a flex of tanned violin-shaped midriff, the woman squeals, “Down, dog, down!”
– Elke Nagy

The crook smirked behind his balaclava. He could already imagine the headlines: ‘String of violin crimes reaches crescendo.' He bagged the Stradivarius. Victory!
– Anna McEvoy

Embraced by the man I'd once loved, Victory mocked me, miming a violin under her chin. My sister had always lived up to her name.
– Alyson Hill

Carole had never owned a violin, but after a moment of bloodshed and victory in the orchestra pit she did.
“Next,” she whispered “the tuba.”
– Wayne Russell

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