Lauren Pierce was always one to express her creativity. When her second-grade teacher distributed blank booklets for students to use at their leisure to write stories inside, Pierce was the only one in class to take advantage of the opportunity.
Currently a rising junior at Council Rock South, the Churchville resident is not only continuing to hone her talent, she’s being recognized for it.
It was recently announced that the 15-year-old earned first place in Bucks County Community College’s third annual Bucks County High School Short Fiction Contest. Pierce was awarded the top prize of $200 for her story Dear V.
Pierce, who was helping to reorganize her sister’s room when she received the exciting news from college officials, didn’t expect to place in the contest, let alone win, as a first-time entrant.
“Our English teacher published the link and I thought I may as well,” she said. “I opened a Google Doc and I was like, ‘All right, where do I start?’ I do a different writing prompt every day, so I’m used to bringing random characters out. So, I did that and let it go where it wanted to, and eventually it formed into what it was meant to be.”
Though Pierce described her writing style as “weird,” the unorthodox process works for her.
“It just kind of springs out of my mind and then I write it all down, even if it doesn’t make sense,” she said. “I just write it down and go back and see what I can make of it.”
The story centers around the main character Brie, who attends her best friend Vivian’s funeral.
“Everyone around her is acting a little strange, and she’s not sure what to think about what’s happened,” Pierce said. “She sees Vivian’s mom, who has always been really nice to her. She admires Vivian’s mom. But we start to learn that Brie and Vivian weren’t perfect best friends, and that Brie kind of resented Vivian a little bit.”
Dear V was chosen as the winning entry by faculty of the college’s Language and Literature Department. The judges lauded the piece as “a psychologically complex crime story with a deftly delivered surprise ending that turns rereading into a real pleasure. Its prose is often sophisticated and stylish, and bespeaks a delightfully sinister sense of humor. Best of all is the story’s understated by persistent commentary on social class as a divisive force in American life.”
Moving forward, Pierce intends to continue writing as long as the ideas keep flowing.
“I write all the time. I have a finished draft right now that’s still in the editing phase,” she said. “I’d love to get that published.”
Since college campuses have been closed since March, an online celebration was hosted on May 23, which featured Pierce and the other winners – Jamie Hallman, of Coopersburg, in second place, and Julianna Taggart, of Levittown, in third place – reading their stories.
Hallman, a senior at Palisades High School, won a $100 prize for Reset. The judges commented, “A bold and trippy bit of storytelling cut from Twilight Zone and Black Mirror cloth, Reset does what great sci-fi always does – illuminates present-day social issues and demands that its audience confront its own fears and anxieties about them. Its depictions of U.S. schools are especially well employed towards those ends, and there’s some terrific and imaginative descriptive writing, too.”
Taggart, a 17-year-old junior at Pennsbury High School, won $50 for The Monsters Within, which the judges called “a wildly imaginative sci-fi romp symbolically representing to readers a whole host of torn-from-the-headlines contemporary issues – overpopulation, the robot-labor revolution, environmental destruction, and the loss of the family as a stabilizing social unit. It’s powerful and unafraid of the dark, as its closing lines forcefully demonstrate.”
The celebration can be viewed at bit.ly/BucksShortFictionContest.
A short-fiction contest for Bucks County adults will be held this fall. Further information will be available later this summer at bucks.edu/shortfictioncontest.
To learn more about the Bucks County High School Short-Fiction Contest, sponsored by the Language and Literature Department, contact Professor Elizabeth Luciano at Elizabeth.Luciano@bucks.edu.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com