As part of our schools partnership activity, Kingston College was delighted to deliver a unique creative writing competition called South West Writes. Partnering with Creative Writing staff from Kingston University’s Department of Humanities, the literary agency David Higham Associates and Wimbledon Books, we excited, enthused and energised students interested in the written word and inform them of the multitude of job opportunities concerning writing and the creative industries.

Workshops were delivered by Kingston College teaching staff and the schools partnership team.

On Thursday 4 July, Kingston College hosted the prize giving ceremony for South West Writes.

The shortlisted Year 10 students were joined by award winning author Kiran Millwood Hargrave who spoke about her writing journey, habits and offered some invaluable advice about how writers can eventually get published.

The overall winner was:

Amongst the Deer, by Florence Lavercombe (Grey Court School)

Runner Up was:

Heart, by Clara Capgras (Raynes Park High School)

Highly commended was:

A memorable trip that only happened once, by Chris Lam (Epsom and Ewell High School)

The winning writer Florence said:

"Thank you so much for creating a competition for me to focus on my writing and share my work. The prize is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I cannot wait to have. Thank you." 

Yasmin Laws, KS3 and KS4 English Coordinator from Grey Court School, added:

"This was such a fantastic opportunity for our students to be brave and vulnerable. I'm so proud of all the students who put their work out there for critique and very thankful to Richard and the Kingston College team for giving them this opportunity. "

Richard Fisher, School Partnership Manager at Kingston College, said that it has been a joy to deliver the competition and witness the enthusiasm, honesty and bravery demonstrated by all the writers who submitted, not just the shortlisted.

Thank you to all our partners who supported the delivery of the competition.

Amongst the Deer

by Florence Lavercombe

Snap.

A twig broke. The boy’s ears pricked up, eyes widening in anticipation. He stood up straight, head whipping around fiercely in a desperate attempt to locate where the sound originated from.

Snap.

It came from his left.

Snap.

No, his right.

There, a flash of red scurried through the undergrowth. The boy tried to follow the shape with his eyes, but it vanished as if into thin air. What was it? A bird? A fox? He could feel his heart drumming in his chest.

Snap. Behind him this time. The boy spun around violently.

A girl. There, behind him, stood a girl, with a mane of fiery red hair and vast brown eyes. She couldn’t have been much older than the boy. She held herself in a strange manner, akin to that of a young child. The boy let out a deep breath of relief before letting his eyes scan over her, noticing the clothes she was wearing: a grey long-sleeve wool top despite it being the peak of summer, and a pair of brown jeans that seemed a few sizes too small. The boy felt warm just looking at her. He also noticed that she didn't have any shoes on; a layer of mud caked the soles of her feet. However he dismissed the girl’s unusual appearance and took a few paces towards her, attempting to introduce himself. The girl’s eyes widened fearfully as she took hurried steps backwards, tripping over a protruding tree stump and landing in an awkward shape amongst the shrubbery.

Chuckling slightly, the boy offered her a hand up, and reluctantly, the girl took it.

Not long after that, the two became friends. The boy rambled to the girl about his thoughts, hopes, and dreams, and she simply listened. He soon realised that the girl didn’t have much to say at all, however it seemed neither of them minded: the boy would talk and the girl would listen, and that is how it stayed.

Every day for weeks, the boy and the girl met in those woods. Each time the sun rose, an adventure would begin. Perhaps they skipped stones in the pond, or fought with branches that felt as heavy as steel in their hands. Maybe the boy braided her hair, speaking fondly of his sisters as he twined small flowers in her curls, or lounged in a clearing, painting and singing and dancing for as long as their feet could hold them up. When the sky melted into hues of pinks and oranges and the deer retired amongst the trees, they parted ways, promising to see each other again tomorrow.

It didn’t take long for him to notice the green and purple shades that blossomed against her skin. It was clear that the girl had desperately tried to cover them up with her wool sleeves and tight jeans, but he had still seen the way the bruises peeked over the collar of her shirt, unmissable and ugly. He wanted to ask where she came from, or more about who she was, but each attempt was met with her facing away and shaking her head.

On one sultry afternoon, the girl stood up from where they sat beside the stream and gestured for him to follow, a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. She led the boy down narrow paths shrouded by harsh brambles and tracks so wide you could fully outstretch your arms and you would only be able to graze the surrounding foliage with your fingertips. The boy watched from behind as the girl hiked over fallen trees and logs, her steps never faltering. She seemed more in her element here, sunlight caressing her face and hair swept back by a breeze, and a sense of comfort lingering hazily on her features. Then without warning, she stopped, so suddenly that the boy bumped into her back.

The boy gasped. They had made it to a boundless field that stretched long into the horizon, every blade of grass ignited by the setting sun. A small herd of deer, grazing lazily to their right, swiftly craned their necks in the children’s direction and stood stock still, clearly intrigued by their presence. As if on instinct, the girl lowered her head and the boy, realising her intentions, quickly followed suit. She walked over to a fawn and its mother with a striking confidence, as if they were old friends reunited. The boy watched dumbfounded as she glided her hand over the back of the deer, grinning wildly as she did so. The girl waved him over, snapping him back to reality. He approached with immense caution and the girl giggled, amused by his unease. All of a sudden, she took his hand in hers and dragged it gently over the deer’s fur. The boy, expecting coarse bristles like a paintbrush, was startled by how soft the fur felt under his touch. He was pleasantly surprised.

But now, the boy stood in the clearing, head thrown back to face the sky. He welcomed its warm embrace and took a deep breath in, his eyes feeling heavy and ponderous. He remembered the way the girl had come running to him the previous morning, tears flowing down her cheeks, mixing with the blood that ran down from a large cut on her forehead. The girl threw herself into his arms sobbing like he’d never heard before, crying out like a wounded animal. It broke his heart. She said that she had to go. He looked deep into her eyes, filled to the brim with anguish. He told her to promise she’d come back. The girl simply shook her head.

So there the boy stood, crickets chirping a soulful melody below him.

Snap.

He turned slowly, tears gathering mournfully in his eyes. Behind him, timid and hunched over, stood a small fox with a mane of fiery red fur and vast brown eyes.

 

Link to Help You Write

If you are thinking of writing a short story, here are some links that can help you get going with your writing, give you some additional practice and inspiration as well as insight into the publishing industry:

Writing Prompts - accessible, quick, quality writing prompts

Writers Toolkit/ - small snapshots into a range of writers’ habits and attitudes to writing

Filling Your First Blank Page - lots of inspiration and ideas here from the creative writing school of the famous publishers Faber

Penguin Books - an accessible guide charting how a book gets published from one of the biggest publishers in the industry

David Higham - information on internships

Creative writing at Kingston University – details of innovative creative writing undergraduate and postgraduate at courses at Kingston University, and the award-winning staff who teach them.