Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Fourth Year 500-word comp Round 4 – Nov 2020 winners announced

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

  • 1107 Autumn leaves
  • 1101 Songbird
  • 1104 Cherished treasures

The theme for November was ‘Autumn Leaves’. 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 2021 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 10th July (fingers crossed!). The results will also be listed here and on the main website (link below) and the winners contacted.

There are often 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 in July so please do not send it elsewhere until after the final results are announced.

If you have requested, and paid for, critique, this will be with you in the next few days if not already.


Gareth’s feedback on the stories received this month:

By all means turn your personal experience into a story. It’s the best form of research. There are several this month that suggests to me that the writers felt at first hand the adventure, pain and satisfaction they are communicating in their stories.

But do check for things like unnecessary repetition and tautology: “7 am on the first morning” for example.

And errors such as “laying on the ground”. (Lying). Plenty of guidance on the Internet.

And while repetition of a word in another sentence close by can add emphasis in some instances, the repeated word is usually there because the writer didn’t read closely enough, and would probably have used an alternative if he or she had spotted it.

It’s good to see writers trying out fresh descriptions, similes and treatments. I particularly liked “they rise like a swoop of rooks” in one story.

One person, inspired by a song, told a story from the point of view of a dead lover. Another took the poetic route, and described autumn as a physical being, wearing the colours of the season, issuing her orders to the trees. An interesting, imaginative treatment of autumn.

But it jars when writers don’t check spelling. One writer made an error in the spelling of Alzheimer’s. (I confess I had to check it myself.)  Always worth one more read through. It is a shame (and especially, here, in a well-told story) because my feeling is that when somebody uses this word they often know somebody close to them who has or had the condition.

Another error was a misspelling of WhatsApp. I’m sure lots of us would get it wrong just taking a stab at it, but that’s the only correct spelling, I’m afraid. Do check online. (I allow other spelling variants, because I know writers from North America submit stories.)


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 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.

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 (fees minus PayPal charges) 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.

2 thoughts on “BeaconLit Fourth Year 500-word comp Round 4 – Nov 2020 winners announced

  1. Hi Morgen! It would be lovely to read winning entries – but I suspect not possible under the conditions of the competition? Any chance of knowing how many entries each month? Always an education reading Gareth’s feedback. Now getting the creative engine revved up for “A new me”!


    1. Hi Bea. Unfortunately not. The stories aren’t published until the final results are announced. The three winners from this month may not even be in the final top ten. I’m not involved in the process this year other than receiving the results and updating this website but I’ll forward your comment to Gareth. Good luck with this month’s theme.


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