Lisa McLean's "Dicky's Bluff" Wins $2,500 Cash Prize - Short Prose Competition

The Writers' Union of Canada
Press Release

Photo of Lisa McLean

The Writers' Union of Canada is pleased to announce that Lisa McLean has won the $2,500 cash prize for its 27th annual Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers, for the best story under 2,500 words, with her piece “Dicky’s Bluff.” In addition, the Union will submit the winning story and the eleven other shortlisted stories to three Canadian magazine publishers for their consideration. 

Lisa McLean’s short fiction has most recently appeared in The New QuarterlyRiddle Fence, and Room. Her creative work has been longlisted for the CBC Nonfiction Prize (2017) and previously received an honourable mention in the Union’s Short Prose Competition (2014). Lisa is based in Guelph, Ontario, where she lives with her family, and works as a freelance communications consultant.

This year, nineteen Union members donated their time and expertise to read 628 submissions and distill them into a long list of 124 stories. These stories went on to a second round of nineteen readers who selected the finalists to pass on to the jury: Janet BarkhouseJacqueline Guest, and Naben Ruthnum.


Dicky’s Bluff by Lisa McLean, Guelph, ON

The jury noted, “There isn't a false note in the setting, the characters, or the story line in Lisa McLean's winning story, ‘Dicky's Bluff.’ In a way, this is a typical initiation story, but the subject matter is serious and unexpected: clashing societal paradigms.”

“Lisa McLean shows remarkable talent and maturity in her writing. All the judges agreed that this well-crafted story is pitch perfect. The plotting is well and subtly thought out with the arc of the story presented in a powerful way. This can often be difficult within a limited word count but this author makes no mistakes. The judges found the voice of the young male characters true throughout, with their choices and behaviour believable and moving. In conclusion, it was obvious this was the winning entry. The judges agreed that Lisa McLean’s talent will be a welcome addition to the Canadian literary scene. Congratulations to this gifted author!"


  • Here, Girl, Kimberley Alcock, Vancouver, BC
  • High Stakes, Christine Barbetta, Toronto, ON
  • Leaving, Marilyn Boyden, Toronto, ON
  • What I Know About the Production of Bubblegum, Maria Cichosz, Lakefield, ON
  • How to Tell Your Mother She Can't Go Home Again, Heidi Croot, Campbellcroft, ON
  • Seed Vault, Peter Forestell, Cornwall, ON
  • Our Father, Zilla Jones, Winnipeg, MB
  • J.J. Gets a Diagnosis, Margo LaPierre, Ottawa , ON
  • Short Term, Tara McGuire, North Vancouver, BC
  • Black Oak, Sarah L. Taggart, Calgary, AB
  • The Salmon Season, Nancy Walker, Burnaby, BC


Janet Barkhouse, Jacqueline Guest, Naben Ruthnum


Lynda A. Archer, Leanne Baugh, Ann Birch, Lucy E.M. Black, Per Brask, Michael Bryson, Kevin Burns, Maia Caron, Fiona Clarke, Sarah Ellis, April Ford, P.M. Foss, Seyward Goodhand, Irene Ternier Gordon, Carolyn Gossage, Peggy Herring, Pauline Holdstock, Ellen S. Jaffe, Diana Kolpak, Kathy-Diane Leveille, Alastair Luft, Colette Maitland, Terry Murray, Marion Mutala, Alexa Nazzaro, Kamal Parmar, Shawna Diane Partridge, Edeet Ravel, Rick Revelle, Trudee Romanek, Zoë Roy, René Schmidt, Jocelyn Shipley, Craig Terlson, Carly Rosalie Vandergriendt, Anuja Varghese, Susan White

- 30 -

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is the national organization of professionally published writers. TWUC was founded in 1973 to work with governments, publishers, booksellers and readers to improve the conditions of Canadian writers. Now over 2,100 members strong, TWUC promotes the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. TWUC believes a lively and diverse literary culture is essential in defining Canada and its people. Learn more at

For additional information
Valerie Laws, Office Administrator
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 ext. 224

DATE: June 24, 2020