Write about a person you love. This apparently simple instruction may be more difficult than you think. What makes us love people? How do we avoid being sentimental when describing the attributes that make someone loveable? You will immediately be faced with the decision of writing about someone you love or loved romantically or as a friend. Or perhaps you’ll choose a family member. Your greatest challenge will be to make your reader love this person, too. Write no more than 600 words in your allotted 30 minutes.

Winning entry

There’s a man I know, who moulds me like putty in his perfectly formed hands. Every part of him conjures up a memory; the sound of his voice recalls lost idyll. My first taste of camembert, the warmth of hot springs, cool skin, crisp sheets, the buttery smell of croissants on a wintry Sunday morning, translucent white curtains lifting gently on a summer’s day.

He’s a man’s man, adored by women; strong, wise, brave, witty. And yet, on some days, he requires gentle tending, like a bird with a broken wing. He has seen the worst the world has to offer: limbless landmine victims and mass graves. He’s stepped over corpses to avoid sniper fire, the stench of death in his nostrils. He is damaged, often despairing, frequently depressed.

Peel back the crackling, world-burnished outer layers, though, and inside you find a tender green shoot, a soul that brims with art, with music, with poetry, with love. With the promise of something beautiful. He loves completely; gives too much of himself, generous to a fault. Is often taken for granted.

My heart is his.

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