First ever Queenstown Writers Festival 48-Hour Short Story Competition

2 minutes read
Posted 1 November, 2023
Steve Braunias mug copy

Judge Steve Braunias

Local writers are invited to feel the fear and do it anyway in a new competition as part of this year’s Queenstown Writers Festival.
Writers will have 48 hours to compose up to 800 words of literary gold, over the festival weekend of 11-12 November, based on prompts released at 5pm on Friday, 10 November.

The open section will be judged by award winning writer Steve Braunias, with the winner claiming $500 cash and being published in the summer issue of 1964 magazine.

Cash prizes and book vouchers will be awarded to winning entries in the Rangatahi section (open to young people in years 9-13) and Tamariki (years 1-8) sections. Tamariki will have a longer period to prepare their work.

Principal Anna-Marie Chin wants to see more cross-pollination between creative disciplines, and believes imagination is the key to growing our minds.

“I see this as a platform for people of all ages to challenge themselves.”

Having grown up in a world of Sunday morning radio stories such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Bad Jelly the Witch, she wants to encourage young people to use their imaginations to create images and words the way her generation did.

“Writing is like a hand sketch. It creates a feeling, and everyone will interpret it differently,” she said.

Three prompts will be released on the Queenstown Writers Festival website and via social media at 5pm on Friday, 10 November.

Entrants will choose one of the prompts and respond in either fiction or non-fiction form.

They will only have the weekend to polish their diamond though, as entries are due on Sunday at 5pm.

Festival trustee Jen Smart said that often the most interesting ideas were formed under pressure.

“We’ve all seen the impressive work produced in the 48-Hour Film Festival – the spirit of this competition is the same.

“We’re inviting writers to put aside all those things that get in the way of starting, and just begin writing.

“The aim is to encourage southern writers to produce a piece they might not have otherwise written.”

Unlike the 48 Hour Film Festival, though, entrants will have a choice in the stimulus they respond to, and the form in which they do so.

Open category judge Steve Braunias said he would be looking for characters that say and do things like real people.

“I want stories where things actually happen, and one or two beautiful sentences.”

The Rangatahi section will be judged by award winning screenwriter and author Michael Bennett (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Whakaue), with a special Tamariki category will be judged by Queenstown author Jane Bloomfield. Unlike the older sections, Tamariki writers can begin work immediately as the three prompts are now available on the festival website.

Entries must also be submitted by 5pm on Sunday, 13 November.

More information is available on the Queenstown Writers Festival website:


Related articles

Latest issue

Issue 953 Read Now

Last week’s issue

Issue 952 Read Now


Download or update to the new Queenstown App today



The Lakes Weekly is part of Queenstown Media Group (QMG).

QMG is Queenstown’s leading locally owned and operated media company with print, online and social platforms that engage locals with what they care about — everything local!

The Lakes Weekly delivers stories and news that connects with local so they come away each week better connected to their community. Advertising sits within this curated content environment, and it’s a trusted relationship between readers and the Lakes Weekly. Advertisers benefit from the association with the LWB brand values.

The Lakes Weekly is hand delivered to every business in Queenstown, Arrowtown, Frankton, Five Mile Remarkables Park and Glenda Drive on Tuesday. Copies are available in service stations, libraries and drop boxes throughout the region and every supermarket throughout the Queenstown basin and Wanaka.

Online the issue is available Monday afternoon, on and the Qtn App.


Printed copies
each week


Estimated weekly
Read the
Latest issue