Brno Short Story Contest Awards CZK 7,000 To Best Story About “Opening Up”

For this 6th edition, the Brno Short Story Writing Contest (BSSWC) returned with its biggest ever total prize pool, of CZK 12,000. This year’s theme was “Opening Up”, which could refer to positive forward movement, but was open to entrants’ interpretation as usual. The first prize of CZK 7,000 was awarded to Veronika Opatřilová for her winning story, “The Bright Pale Yellow”. Official graphic of BSSWC.

Brno, 13 June (BD) – The BSSWC is free to enter, and total prize money was increased to CZK 12,000 for 2022. The jury was instructed that the contest was focused on creating a story that included the theme “Opening Up” in some significant way. The story was the most important aspect, including writing, originality, character development, and plot development. It was understood that most of the entrants would not be native English speakers.  

The jury included a cross-section of local cultural icons and writing enthusiasts: Don Sparling, co-founder of the Brno Expat Centre and long a leading figure in the local expat and Masaryk University communities; Tomáš Kačer, a teacher in the Department of English and American Studies at MU and a translator; Anna Formánková, a translator and editor at MOBA Publishing House; Lee Adams, co-founder of both the Brno Writers Group and the Brno Short Story Writing Contest; and Anne Johnson, winner of the BSSWC in 2021 and a local producer of theatre.

A total of 57 creative writers entered the BSSWC this year, the second most entries in the six years of the contest.

Veronika Opatřilová won the CZK 7,000 first prize with “The Bright Pale Yellow”, a mix of emotions, images, and sensations that revolve around an abandoned island and the regrets of our earlier lives. Opatřilová, who studied Spanish language and literature at Masaryk University, translates mostly crime fiction from Swedish to Czech. In 2021, she published “Ostrov žije”, a young adult fantasy novel, with the help of a crowdfunding campaign. She is currently working on another book for Prostor Publishing. 

“This story was specifically for the contest,” said Opatřilová. “The main idea was something that I have been thinking about for many years. I usually start with an image or an idea of a feeling that I want to write about. When it comes to short stories I try to finish them on the first attempt, then I rewrite and I edit. This one I had to rewrite many times.” 

“Saudade”, written by Ari Dvořák, came second and received CZK 3,500. Dvořák is a regular participant, who finished third in last year’s contest with “The Dog Heaven”. “The Balloon Factory”, by Elaine Wood, came third and got CZK 1,500. Ten additional stories were awarded an ‘Honourable Mention’. 

“I write a lot in Czech,” said Dvořák, who studies audio engineering at Brno Technical University and sound design at Masaryk University. “This contest is my annual occasion to write in English. It was interesting this year. I was thinking about it for a long time. I heard a song called Saudade and that night I had a dream about it. The next morning I sat down and wrote it. It was very spontaneous. In like three hours it was all done and I just had to edit it.”

To read the winner’s stories, follow these links for Opatřilová’s story, Ari Dvořák’s story and Elaine Wood’s story

Brno Daily was a media sponsor of the 6th edition of the Brno Short Story Writing Contest. 

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