Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Third Year 500-word comp Round 3 – Nov 2019 winners announced

Sorry for being late but we are delighted to announce the top three stories from November’s entries are (in alphabetical order):

  • Discharged
  • The Fifth Conversation
  • Where the Train Will Divide

The theme for November was ‘the fifth’. 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 2020 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 11th July. As with most months, there were more than three stories that could have made the top three 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 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.


Gareth’s feedback on the stories received this month:

Some particularly clever stories this month, well crafted without any need for me to make pedantic but sometimes necessary comments about over-use of exclamation marks and punctuation confusion. Every one could have been a winner. My job was very difficult.

In the stories that didn’t ask for a critique, I particularly liked the the depiction of a big communal event, a fireworks display, from two different points of view – that of a young child and an old soldier. (I’ve often thought that the loud fireworks that resound over every community in the land are in poor taste, so close to Armistice Day. And a short story can make the point where a pompous opinion piece in a newspaper cannot.)

In another story the action is tangential to something enormous happening. So we are given the procedure of a school lock down and the hiding in a cupboard. We don’t know what happens in the end, but a short story of this length can be excused for leaving things open. There’s not always room for a conclusion, satisfactory or not, so no need to force one, as this writers does not.

There’s no real message in this story (there doesn’t have to be), except that of the child’s complete faith in the counsellor.

Then there is a good ‘Appearances can be deceptive’ story, set on a train.

I don’t really have any comments on style or choice of language. I’ll make one point about the need for variety, wherever possible. You only have 500 words. Might as well make the key ones different  where you can, or not too similar.

An example is the writer of another story using “splash” and “sploshing”. Both mean more or less the same, despite the one letter difference. In a short story I would avoid using both, when there are plenty of alternatives. Faced with a choice I would retain “sploshing” as it is the more unusual, and has an active, urgent feel to it.


Although Gareth 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 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Gareth Davies). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page with an option to select critique within the entry form.

N.B. All the profits from this competition go to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. No one involved in the competition charges for their time (including the judge!). 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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