Monday, 18 May 2020

Stories of Life: Narrative Form with Poetic Commentary

It's contest time!

On Monday, Katy introduced the 2020 Australian Christian Teen Writer Award and Young Australian Christian Writer Award. Click here to find out more.

Entries to the 2020 CALEB Award close this week. Click here to enter (you'll have to click the yellow Book Now button).

We're also looking for more judges for the CALEB. Click here to volunteer.

And today I'm delighted to welcome May-Kuan Lim to the blog, to introduce the 2020 Stories of Life contest.

Baxter with his family at the 2019 book launch. Baxter won second prize in the Youth category.

In the Tanakh, or the Hebrew Bible, various biblical books of the Old Testament are arranged as two narrative sections separated by poetic commentary. From Genesis to 2 Kings, the first narrative section covers creation to the exile of the Jews. The second narrative section, Daniel to Chronicles, covers the exile to the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. In between these two narrative sections are psalms, prophetic books and wisdom literature. This section has been called poetic commentary. Here, God often speaks in the first person, and we get to feel his heart, his emotions. In many ways, I think that narrative form with poetic commentary is a good description of the kinds of stories that we seek at Stories of Life.

Stories of Life is a short story writing competition that seeks out true stories of faith and testimony.

Stories of faith are primarily stories: something happens to someone. In our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life, we read various short stories: a child losing his mother, a woman pushing away food, a man forced to use the women’s toilet because a church hadn’t made provisions for his disability.

What makes it a story of faith is that God shows up, working sometimes in small and quiet ways, at other times through dramatic intervention. But these stories go beyond the testimonies I used to tell – those factual straightforward stories where I had a problem and Jesus solved it. Instead, these stories draw readers into the heart of the writers to experience terror, relief, grieve, joy, or any of the complex feelings that make us human.

And somewhere in the 500 to 1500 words, God shows up. It is through his response that we understand something of his heart – a faithful grandmother crying with the child, an assurance to the young woman that her body is a vessel designed by God, a man who reads of Jesus intentionally engaging with people with disabilities; this is what divine love and faithfulness look like.

There may be many writers here who do not consider non-fiction their primary genre.

Nonetheless, if God has done something in your life, would you consider writing up and submitting it, so that your story might be published in our annual anthology? While we encourage all people of faith to write in, there is no doubt that the contribution of serious writers, who are followers of Jesus, lifts the overall quality of writing and it’s always good to see Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers have their stories published in our anthology.

We are starting a new initiative this year: Feedback Month in June.

Throughout the month of June, you will be able to submit your draft online via our website, and one of our editors will give you personalised feedback. What you do with that feedback is entirely up to you. Adherence to the feedback does not guarantee publication, but we hope that it will be helpful to some. But if you’ve written your story and you’re happy with it, you can submit it straightaway, and we are accepting submissions from now until 31 July 2020.

We have three categories and a different judge for each category. In each category, there will be a first prize (AUD500), a second prize (AUD300), and a third prize (AUD 200). The categories are:

Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (500 words and under)

AUD 10 entry fee
2020 judge David Rawlings

Immortalise Young Stories of Life (500 – 1000 words)

For writers aged 17 and under, no entry fee
2020 judge Corrine Townsend

Tabor Open Stories of Life (1000 – 1500 words)

AUD 10 entry fee
2020 judge Nola Passmore

All submissions will be appraised as anonymous entries, and prize winners will be announced at the launch of the anthology in November. Some stories will also recorded and broadcast on 1079 Life. Stories of Life has been running since 2016, and we have published four books to date. These have been very well received, and we have become a family of sorts, whereby we try to help with the promotion of books of any of our past contributors through social media.

True stories of faith are a way of acknowledging God.

They help us remember how God has been good to us in the past, and this gives us confidence to trust him in for the future. In these uncertain times, we believe that stories of faith that bear witness to God’s active grace in this world are powerful.

Will you write us a story?

May-Kuan Lim is part of the Stories of Life team. She is also a freelance writer, studies part-time at the Bible College of South Australia and co-edits Word of Mouth, the Oral History Australia (SA/NT) newsletter. When she is not burrowing through text, crafting sentences or untangling them, she finds great delight in her eclectic (read: rather messy) garden.


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