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Supported by Hello SA, our 2024 Microstory Competition invited young people under the age of 18 to submit a microstory of 50 words or less. This year, we asked for stories focussed on the following question: what does it mean to be human?

We received over 650 entries to this year's competition - thank you to everyone who sent us their stories.

The winner was announced today at Adelaide Writers' Week by Tom Rehn and Lauren DeCesare from Hello SA. Congratulations to our 2024 winner, Ashley!

Ashley was invited to read her winning story on stage at Writers' Week and also received prizes courtesy of Hello SA and Adelaide Writers' Week. She's pictured above (centre) with Tom and Lauren.

Here's Ashley's winning story:

Humane Ways

In our hands lies the potential
To create the exceptional
To serve and shape
But too the ability to destroy
To devastate nature’s gifts
And yet should creation go rogue
Destruction inevitably
Though human
let us not forget what it means to be

- Ashley

Congratulations also to the authors of our shortlisted stories, shared below:

Humans are fragile,
We act as if our intelligence gives us the power of gods, with the opportunity to make decisions for the creatures we see as beneath us.
But, in reality, we are just like them, fragile, mortal, bound by the elements.
And in that mortality, we find meaning.

- Henry

We’re all stardust born, nebulae compose our sunlit iris and bleeding hands become blades as life’s thorns prick our naivete. Stories are sewn onto time’s tapestry, until our supernova approaches and we return to the constellations, atoms diffusing into the cosmos. Faraway, an infant’s first breath of life is heard.

- Fernando

Beyond The Trenches

Air heavy with gunpowder, a symphony of explosions and artillery echoed across the battlefield. A soldier, toughened by war, looted the fallen. Amongst the belongings, he discovered a photograph- the fallen enemy, wife, two children smiling. The man, once faceless, reflected shared humanity; only separated by opposing trenches.

- Lily

To be human is to be connected
Why do our hands intertwine perfectly when we hold hands?
Why are our hearts beating against one another when we hug?
There are many poets in the world,
But humans, when together, connected,
They themselves are the poetry.

- Megan

The emotions run deep. Cuts through the soul. Dark, like frigid nights. The pain, unrelenting. The cries of the fallen, fighting the plague of mankind. Gunshots will break the seemingly everlasting dawn and the bloodbath seem inevitable. Humanity and humility forgotten. But the sun will rise again.

- Savith


The wrinkles by my nose, like the twirling tree bark my palms rub against. My head lays in the soil, buried deep under the earth, ancestors' bones support the ground above. No motherboards nor wires can tether my body to the earth, only the blood in my tree-like veins.

- Amelie

It settled on her eyelids; caressed her mind.
She could see beyond her sight. Eyes were opened – but closed simultaneously.
A thought formed on her lips, seizing her tongue. It poised for the leap: from human to humanity; dream to reality.
The foundation of our world.
The humble idea.

- Grace

A sentient spacecraft discovers a cosmic aberration in the far echoes of a forgotten galaxy: a human kid wrapped in stardust. It asks the universe, "What does it mean to be human?" In the children's laughter it discovers the answer: "To be human is to be the universe dreaming of itself."

- Insiya

I am music. As humans, we all have our own piece. Some pieces have resolutions, some don’t. Some play certain notes more than others, some leave notes completely untouched. Sometimes, we have accompaniments which create clashes or harmonies. Regardless, each piece is individual. All humanity, everyone, is their own music.

- Jasmine


The Microstory Competition is supported by Hello SA.

Photo by Andrew Beveridge.