Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 5 – December 2018 winners announced

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

  • A Father’s Gift
  • A Special Christmas Gift
  • Christmas night

Narrowly missing out (in alphabetical order)…

  • All About Me!
  • An Unexpected Trip
  • Middle-age Christmas

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 ultimate top ten* which will be published on this website (and on next July 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:

As you can tell by the number of narrowly missed out stories, this month was a particularly difficult batch to judge. While the quality of the writing is important (the more mistakes made – missing words, typos etc.), it is usually how I feel at the end of a story that deems how highly it is placed. I whittle down the entire batch to my favourites then pick my top three.

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

  • While reading the stories, I got to the end of them and went “Huh?” Not a good sign. I reread the stories and one made more sense the second time but I still struggled with the second. Whatever you’re writing, it’s so important to get someone else to read it and give you feedback. As the creators of our pieces, we know what we mean by something, where our characters are, who they are. We need to portray that to our readers but leaving part of the story to their imagination. Leave too much unsaid (‘shown’, e.g. Andy yelled, “Get out!” instead of Andy was angry.) and the reader can struggle. Having at least two people read the same piece, you may well find they pick out the same things but also different things… and usually aspects you thought were clear. It happens to me too. Second / third (or more) opinions are invaluable before sending a piece anywhere.
  • There were some its that should have been it’s and vice versa (in more than one story). The easy way to remember is that it’s is a shortening for it is. If you can’t replace the its/it’s with it is, then it’s going to be its, e.g. its warm breath (the warm breath belonging to it). It’s(!) a little confusing when you would say the dog’s warm breath where the object in this case would have an apostrophe yet they say the same thing.
  • numbers under 100 are best written in full so they blend with the rest of the text (especiallywhere they are 1st and the likes as eReaders tend not to like superscript) so I’ve amended the ones that are. That said, I think all numbers unless titles (BMW Series 5) etc. are best written in full. Decades are plural so no apostrophe required.
  • Readers remember characters’ names from the initial letter so I always recommend having them as distinctive as possible. Having the same letter, same second letter and the same or similar lengths (e.g. Mark / Marx) can be confusing and again, anything that can pull the reader away from the story, even for a second, is to be avoided. Unless there’s a reason to use the same letter, e.g. siblings (two dogs in one of the stories, which was fine) then best not to.
  • Speaking of characters, 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.
  • In some stories I’ve added some commas where a reader would breathe if reading the piece aloud. Tip: although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.
  • And finally… I recommend not inverting the dialogue tags as it’s not how we would naturally speak if talking aloud, i.e. to change ‘said Joan’ to ‘Joan said’.


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.


*Should you get through to the longlist of thirty 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.

 All the money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!



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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