Someone writing

The YCAA and Western Gazette pre-Christmas Mini-Saga writing competition was once again a popular challenge for established writers and for those of you who attempted it for the first time.

This year the word to play with – ‘HOLD’ – has so many uses in our language that it can be used, as playwrights and wordsmiths have always done, as tragedy or comedy. Our writers opened their thesaurus and dazzled the YCAA judges by how often and in how many ways the word ‘HOLD’ is used.

We had a tremendous response to this writing competition, which is always an indicator that good writers are there waiting for the opportunity to share their work. ‘HOLD’ was woven into a tiny story of exactly 50 words, with another up to 17 words for the title. Quite an achievement as you will see below as we share the winning entries; it is challenging but so rewarding when successful. As well as publication in the Western Gazette (06/01/2022 edition), the five winners each received a £25 Waterstones’ book token. These prizes are another rewarding way the YCAA uses its funding by supporting the arts in our community.

The entries gave the judges a fun time, as it was difficult anonymously deciding the five winning Mini-Sagas, followed by the five worthy runner-up entries, in no particular order, as they are all winning authors. Each year we see how far the Western Gazette readership stretches. Now you can judge. The word to look for is ‘HOLD’. Settle down with a warming drink, or over your relaxing breakfast, for a good read…

The Winning Mini-Sagas

‘One should always strive to keep and nurture one’s marriage vows including ‘to have and to hold’ by Jackie Gingell

Though not unkind, George had a pathological need to hold on to everything he deemed his, especially his wife. Ballroom dancing classes were Julia’s escape. Her dance partner held her in a perfect frame but never presumed to hold on to her. Inevitably the whirling couple happily waltzed away together.

‘Nothing ventured Nothing gained The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ruth Hall

The threatened village crouched on the sea’s edge. The last stone laid; the people celebrated but the old man muttered. ‘You can’t hold back the sea,’ He said. Two winters later, the dyke held but the old man was dead. ‘You can’t hold back the Grim Reaper,’ said the villagers.

‘Stick your hands up. This is a hold up!’ screamed the masked man in the striped jersey’ by Bob Shepherd

‘Give me the money.’

‘How can I do that with my hands in the air.’ I replied.

‘Well, you can put your hands down, but don’t try any funny business.’

There is still a problem,’ I suggested. ‘This is an opticians’, take a seat. I think I can help you.’

’60 Years Together’ by Margaret Adams

To have and to hold

That was sixty years ago

We enjoyed the good times

Together we fought the foe

Sometimes we laughed

Sometimes we cried

Problems were solved

At least we tried

Time to reflect

Now we’re growing old

I’m glad he’s still mine

To have and to hold.

‘The papers said, ‘A tug of war for life’. A terrified boy slung above a raging river’ by A.J. Roke

A straining human chain straddles the car park up to the rail above the ravine, each individual grabbing their own bit of the rope.  Pulling backwards, step by step, fearing to let go, chanting ‘hold on, hold on’.  The rope slackens, bodies propelled backwards in a heap.  Was he lost?

The Runners-up

Now we share with you the five runners-up which are in no particular order. There were other excellent entries from three of our winners, so we have shown only one of each of them to share the prizes among the many entrants, and to illustrate the high standard we had for judging this year.

‘The prevailing westerly wind piled the waves on to the rocky shore and the tide was high’ by Marie-Louise Green

This was not the ideal beach for unloading the precious cargo from the hold, but no matter it must be done if we were to pay our debts. Every man, woman and child were expected to play his part. The weather was icy, the path treacherous but unload we must.

‘The Marriage Official quoted the words, “To have and to hold from this day forward.”’ by Christine Scott

‘No not yet,’ shouted Louise as her bridegroom collapsed and lay dying at her feet. She’d been gradually mixing arsenic in his food for months. He was supposed to sign the register before his demise. Now she wouldn’t get her hands on Charles’ millions and the title Duchess of Somerset.

‘Cliff Fall. Nobody expects the earth to crumble beneath their feet. If only he could hold on…’ by Sheila Hopkins

It was just an ordinary walk on an ordinary day. As usual, he had no expectation of disaster. Then suddenly the cliff path slipped away from under him. He was falling, falling and falling. Needing something to hold on to. Someone must be coming. Hold on! Just hold on! Hold…

‘We are all cold, dirty, and very hungry but stand our ground behind the stakes.’ by Julia O’Dowd


‘I’m holding,’ I mutter under my breath. I want to look at my comrades in the line but you shouldn’t turn your head when you’re drawing 120lb on a longbow, you could do yourself a mischief.

Finally, the order comes.


And steel sleet rains down on the enemy.

‘HOLD. On hold I’m told you’ll be there soon. It won’t last long. I’m number six.’ by Peter Ludgate

Please say you’re there.

Just say ‘I’m here and

Have response for you.’

To such desperate questions asked.

Which ward’s he on?

What day’s my test?

My ceiling leaks.

My roof’s collapsed.

My parcel’s lost.

Don’t leave again.

Don’t leave me here,

Don’t cut me off,

Don’t cut me off.


The YCAA would like to thank the Western Gazette for this opportunity to challenge its readers, and to all of you who entered. Looking at where our writers live shows what a wide circulation area our Western Gazette covers, with sales soaring before Christmas as each entry needed an entry form from the paper. The YCAA congratulates every entrant on the extremely high standard again this year. If you did not win then keep writing and have fun juggling words. Watch out for your next challenge in November 2022. The Yeovil Community Arts Association is a charity that administers the Yeovil Literary Prize and uses its funds to promote and support the arts in our local area. For details or donations please visit