‘Just tell that story!’ says True Stories past winner

2013-08-05 00:00

THE Witness True Stories of KZN competition is now open for entries. We’ve asked last year’s winners and finalists to share ideas about writing and what the experience was like for them.

Mokgotsi Ngcobo:

Winner, Snapshot category, Wrote about the day Verwoerd was killed

What was the hardest part of writing your story?

Choosing an event or experience that would interest readers.

How long did it take you to think of a story?

I am not sure because throughout the year I sometimes take the memory path and think of a story. When the time was due it took me about two weeks to select the story I was happy with.

What helped the writing process?

Telling the story to a keen listener (who has some semblance of honesty) and reading it time and again while in different moods helps the selection and the endless rephrasing.

How was the response when the story was published?

Nineteen Sixty Six evoked a good response from Midlands locals. One Ms B. Norton, the daughter of Mr Norton who managed a school, contacted The Witness and obtained my particulars. We hooked up and then exchanged e-mails. I was so happy.

What advice do you have for prospective writers?

Just tell that story! The one you expect the editor to return with a note saying “not up to standard”. Tell the stories to your friends and gauge the reactions. Write freely. Read and re-read, write and re-write.


There are again four categories: Open – with a prize of R10 000 for stories 1 500 words or less and Snapshot, Schools and Opinion, which all have a prize of R3 000 and are for stories under 800 words.

The closing date for entries is 8 am on August 26 and the winners will be announced in November.


• State clearly what category you are entering.

• Stories may be submitted via e-mail or post. Send your entries to: The Witness True Stories of KwaZulu-Natal Competition, P.O. Box 362, Pietermaritzburg, 3200, or e-mail shelaghm@witness.co.za

• Do not enclose pictures.

• Please include your full contact details in any e-mail attachments, not just in the message field.

• Be sure of your entry before you send it — “improved” versions won’t be accepted.

• Editing is at the discretion of The Witness.

• Manuscripts will not be returned.

• The competition is not open to salaried employees of The Witness.

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