Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Third Year 500-word comp Round 1 – Sept 2019 winners announced

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

  • Future Plans
  • The Recent Convert
  • The Trial

These 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 2020 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 11th July. There are often stories that could have made the top selected but those that did were either closer to the theme or stronger (provoked more of a reaction after reading) so don’t be disheartened if yours hasn’t been mentioned.

If your story for this month isn’t listed above, 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.


Gareth’s feedback on the stories received this month:

There were good things about all seven of the entries this month, but in the end I chose Future Plans, The Recent Convert, and The Trial as my winners.

In several of the other entries I occasionally found myself confused, with the part played by some characters in my opinion too ambiguous. Mystery is one thing, but I was left unsure.

However, the standard was high.

The comments I would make, about those who did not ask for a critique, and some who did, is that some people still use exclamation marks excessively. Generally the exclamation is implicit in what you say, and doesn’t have to be “underlined” like this. If they hadn’t been used at all, I would not have thought there was something missing.

Another point is sometimes people continue a sentence when they could easily put in a full stop and start a fresh sentence, instead of running on. Often this strengthens what they’re trying to say anyway.

I also suggest that people try to be more succinct where possible – after all you only have 500 words and if you can trim one or two here and there it’s all to the good.

Some caught my eye such as: “thrusts herself into”. Why not “throws on” [clothing]?

And “sees her chance” works just as well as “seizes her opportunity”.

My final point is the use of “that” instead of “which”, or vice versa. I, too, often have to check, but in essence it’s “that” if it is essential extra information, without which the line doesn’t make sense. And “which” if you could take the words following without losing any meaning.


Although our judges choose their favourite stories 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 27 stories (three per month over nine 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.

You can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the current judge, journalist and writer Gareth Davis). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page, where you can also find the forthcoming themes, with an option to select critique within the entry form.

N.B. All the money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Our judges do not charge for their time. Good luck!


Writer of 'dark and light' (crime / chick-lit) fiction since 2005, WordPress blogger since March 2011, editor since March 2012 (more recently just for Bloodhound Books), and creative writing tutor since Jan 2014. Also judge for H.E. Bates, and BeaconFlash / BBC Radio 2 / Althorp Lit Fest 500-word competitions.

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