Two Weeks, 250+ Entries and We have a Winner


The Girl on the Road is a dark social comedy that perfectly balances witty social observation and irony and touches upon one of the biggest themes in India today — the constant sexual threat that women face everywhere.

All of us judges loved the humorous observations in this story about a tired middle-aged husband hitting his mid-life crisis, and his bossy, status conscious wife. The larger, more serious theme deftly flowed beneath their story.

While many of our submissions were very striking, few felt fully complete. The Girl on the Road stood out not just in the light, clever way the serious theme was handled, but also because it felt like a wholly finished work where the author had tied up all the ends very satisfyingly.
Here are some of the things we look for in a great story:
1. The subject — from demonetization to godwomen, 3D printing to threesomes, we were floored by the range of the subjects of our entries. Keep pushing the envelope when it comes to your subject. It is often the first thing that we notice and appreciate. The more ambitious your theme, the more striking your story.
2. See if you can evoke opposite emotions – your story becomes really complex when you manage to evoke two opposing emotions at the same time. In our prize-winning story, you will be amused by the husband and wife but you’ll also feel horrified at the end. The more one-note a story, the flatter and simpler it is.
3. Language – we don’t mind simple language but we do mind ungrammatical writing. Don’t worry about showing off and using words you don’t really understand. Use the words you know, then focus on telling the story well. One of the reasons some of your stories didn’t make it, was because the writing felt too raw.
4. Characters – if you can create some strong characters or someone with a strong voice then you’re on to a winner.
5. Tying up all the loose ends – writers often lose steam towards the end of their story. We sympathise. It’s hard to build a beautiful story. But how you end a story really affects how a reader feels about it. Our advice – save your word file and then return to it after a few days or get a friend to look at it. Even the best writers often rush their ending. This was one of the main reasons many of the most interesting stories on our list didn’t make it.

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