Posted in competitions, critique, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 1 – August 2018 winners announced

We are delighted to announce the top three stories from August’s entries are (in alphabetical order):

  • Chasing the First
  • Coming of Age
  • Cupboard Love

Narrowly missing out…

  • The First Time
  • The Red Bicycle

The three top stories will now go through to the final judging and the top ten prize-winning authors (not necessarily the same as the top ten stories as no author can win more than one prize) will be announced at the 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th July.

If your story for this month isn’t listed in the above three, you are welcome to do whatever you like with your submission hereon in. If your story is listed, it’s possible that it could be placed in the top three which will be published on this website (and on http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) so please do not send it elsewhere until after the literary festival.

If you have requested, and paid for, critique, this will be with you in the next few days.

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

An incredibly strong month with eight chosen for a longlist then five then the final three. In another batch, any of those could have made it. A couple of stories lost points because there were words missing or the wrong word used, e.g. forminstead of from, an ofinstead of on. An easy mistake to make, and one that the spell checker may not pick up but this is where reading aloud or ideally getting someone, or something (a Kindle Fire or your computer) to read it to you.

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • we speak in contractions (e.g. I’mrather than I am) and it’s fine (preferred) to use them in dialogue though less so in narration.
  • when you’re writing someone’s name when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
  • like ‘erm’, we do say ‘well’ as a dialogue pause but it’s best not to include it in our writing, or at the most have it as a characteristic for one of the characters. Ditto ‘look’.
  • where there are characters thinking, the thoughts should go in italics so it’s clear it’s not narration or speech. Also we only think to ourselves so you don’t need the ‘to himself / herself’.
  • when referring to family, mum and dad should be capitalised when used as a name, e.g. “I know, Mum.” When used as a ‘job’, e.g. my mum, my dad, my doctor etc. then it should be a small m, d etc.
  • regarding split infinitives, sometimes sticking to the rules will make the sentence clunky so you can’t always keep the two words together, e.g. ‘Tom put the book down onto the table.’ rather than ‘Tom put down the book onto the table.’ but where it’s unlikely to jar the reader then it makes for better English.
  • anymoreis time e.g. I don’t want this anymore… whereas any moreis quantity, e.g. do you have any more?
  • when writing past tense narration, agois present tense so ‘two years ago’ wouldn’t be two years ago. Ditto tomorrow isn’t tomorrow (today isn’t today etc.). Tomorrow is the next day / the day after, today is that day, yesterday is the day before / a day earlier, tonight is that evening / night etc. Dialogue is present tense so they’re fine in speech.
  • where an action has ‘started to’ and ‘began to’ before it, most of the time they’re not needed because unless the action is interrupted, the verb alone works better / is stronger.
  • although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. At least not so many. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several. In my opinion, commas work best when the reader is supposed to breathe (or the writer wants to make the reader pause for a particular reason). They wouldn’t need to when describing an object and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.
  • stories are tales, storeys are layers / floors of buildings.
  • parents – parents are plural so if you’re referring to anything belonging to them, e.g. his parents’ house then the apostrophe needs to come after the s.
  • where there’s a gap in time or a change of main character point of view, there should be a section break: a blank line then the first paragraph of the section being flush to the left. You shouldn’t go into more than one character’s head per section.

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Although Morgen judges on the impact of the stories and the quality of the writing, it’s always disappointing when there are simple spelling mistakes or even simpler errors that should have been picked up during the editing process. Please do read your stories carefully before submitting and ideally show them to someone you trust for their opinion.

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Should you get through to the longlist of 30 stories (three per month over ten months), it doesn’t necessarily mean that your story won’t be chosen if it slips out of the top ten. No author will appear in the top ten twice so a story that came eleventh (or twelfth, thirteenth…) could be bumped up where there are author duplications.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page with an option to select critique within the entry form. Good luck!

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Author:

Writer of 'dark and light' (crime / chick-lit) fiction since 2005, WordPress blogger since March 2011, freelance editor (£2-£7/K) since March 2012, and creative writing tutor since January 2014. Also judge for H.E. Bates, and BeaconFlash / BBC Radio 2 / Althorp Lit Fest 500-word comps.

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