Best Midwestern High School Writing 2013 Winners

The Faceless Girl

Maya R. Lannen

The “Faceless Girl” is remarkable on several levels. From the first lines, which hint at magic realism, through to the powerful , understated interactions between the two main characters, the writing emulates the Southern Gothic style of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor with poetic grace. The terrific use of thematic imagery in the “fire, smoke and water” motif reveals just the beginning of the story’s nuanced depths. Style is paramount in every well chosen word here, with lines like “..rebel in a realm of calm, cool conformists,” which capture a subtle and sophisticated uses of poetic sound. More over, the writer succeeds at the very difficult task (especially for young writers) of generating authentic sounding dialogue; she then balances this with graceful shifts toward inner monologues through the use of well placed italics. Where many young writers work to tell their story through an over abundance of action, this writer hooks the reader through a sparse and deeply intense interaction that resonates with meaning for any reader, but for young women in particular. I remain deeply impressed by this piece for the way it uses every word to its fullest effect all while demonstrating the writer’s deft understanding of human psychology.

William Brieger – Instructor for the Academically Talented Youth Program

To be answered by the student

"The Faceless Girl" is a deeply psychological and interpersonal story, focusing on an interaction between a prim and proper social outcast, and a wild and passionate teenage girl. The story is driven by rich description, well-developed characters and character-appropriate, engaging dialogue. The focus on a very brief interaction enables strong attention to be placed on deepening the characters through dialogue, thought, and nonverbal language, resulting in nuanced and real characters. The depth of these characters is supported by appropriate and poetic description of the characters and their surroundings, using comparisons to fire, water and air that form a motif throughout the story. "The Faceless Girl" captures the lives of two distinct and very different people, both social outcasts from a prim and proper town, and delves into their forming relationship with dialogue and descriptions that bring the characters to life. “The Faceless Girl” speaks to the strength of women in a new and fresh way, with the presentation of insight and wisdom from the unlikeliest of places.