500-word Competition

BeaconLit’s 500-word Competition Year 4 – now closed

The yearly BeaconLit Festival has now finished running its fourth 500-word (maximum) charity fundraising* competition in collaboration with judge Gareth Davies.

With everything going on, we were hoping to bring you the festival on 10th July 2021 but sadly this will no longer happen.
Instead the competition results will be announced, and top 3 stories published as planned, on these BeaconLit websites.

How it works:

  • There is a monthly deadline (see below) for entries, with the top three stories (from three different authors) from each month going through to the following May’s shortlist (of 30 entries), from which a final ten are picked (see ‘Prizes’ below).
  • You can enter (via the form below) as often as you like whenever you like but if you all enter in the final month (May, the tenth / final round), you’ll have more competition. It doesn’t make any difference which month you enter because you won’t know who else is submitting that month. If you submit in August and you’re not in the top three then you could enter again (with a different story) in September (or any other month). You can enter as often as you like whenever you like. Do enter more than once as it gives you a better chance of going through to the shortlist.
  • If you are selected in a particular month, do keep entering because the best ten overall stories will be chosen to receive prizes. No author can win more than one prize so if an author has more than one story in the top 30 then the best story from that author will be selected with the eleventh story / author then being ‘promoted’.
  • If you are unsuccessful, i.e. not in the top three each month, then you still have the story to send elsewhere and you’ll only have to wait until the following month (detailed below) to find out.
  • If you are in the top three, then you will have to wait until the final results are announced on 11th July on the blog / website shortly thereafter. You can still of course mention your placement when submitting something else elsewhere.
  • Sadly we’ve had to postpone the festival but we’re hoping to bring you the full experience on 9th July 2022.  These results will therefore be announced, and top 3 stories published as planned, here and on the main BeaconLit website. 
  • Judge: Gareth Davies is the judge for each round and the final shortlist judging. His decision is final. 🙂
  • *NB. Every penny profit goes to BeaconLit libraries so please do support this competition!

Deadlines / themes:

  • Round 1: First deadline: 31st August (theme = Five a Day), results announced here.
  • Round 2: Second deadline: 30th September (theme = When September Ends), results announced here.
  • Round 3: Third deadline: 31st October (theme = The Terror Next Door), results announced here.
  • Round 4: Fourth deadline: 30th November (theme = Autumn Leaves), results announced here.
  • Round 5: Fifth deadline: 31st December (theme = The Fake Santa), results announced here.
  • Round 6: Sixth deadline: 31st January 2021 (theme = A New Me), results announced here.
  • Round 7: Seventh deadline: 28th February (theme = Better To Have Loved And Lost), results announced here.
  • Round 8: Eighth deadline: 31st March (theme = The Insider), results announced here.
  • Round 9: Ninth deadline: 30th April (theme = No Fool Like A…), results announced here.
  • Round 10: Tenth and final deadline: 31st May (theme = Last Chance), results announced here.
  • The final judging will then take place in June and the ten winners (see ‘Prizes’ below) announced late June/mid July on this website, and top 3 stories published as planned here and on the BeaconLit websites.

NB. Any stories not written to the relevant month’s theme with be disqualified with no money refunded. You can write them whenever you like but please do not submit them early or late or they will be disqualified.


  • Fee: £3 per entry via PayPal (click on the ‘Buy Now’ link below)
  • no limit to number of entries but £3 per entry (form below, one entry / payment per form)
  • optional critique (by judge Gareth Davies) on stories submitted at an additional £5 per story. The critique* will be sent after the relevant month’s results have been announced. *via Word attachment to an email – please advise if you don’t have Word

Prizes (there are ten prizes, including a new third prize, totalling £525!):

  • First prize: £75 plus up to 5,000 words critique* from the competition’s judge Gareth Davies (worth £50) plus free entry to the following year’s literary festival in July 2020 (currently worth £26.50), plus publication on the festival’s website and blog
  • Second prize: £50 plus up to 4,000 words critique* (worth £40) plus free entry to the following year’s literary festival (currently worth £26.50), plus publication on the festival’s website and blog
  • Third prize: £25 plus up to 3,000 words critique* (worth £30) plus free entry to the following year’s literary festival (currently worth £26.50), plus publication on the festival’s website and blog
  • Seven further prizes of free entry to the following year’s literary festival (worth £26.50 each).
  • *the critique offered as prizes can made up of one or more short stories and / or a novel extract.


  • previously unpublished stories
  • no minimum word count but no more than 500 words excluding the title. Stories over 500 words will be disqualified without being read
  • the theme is different each month and can be interpreted however suits but any story not following that theme will be disqualified
  • do not submit a future / past month’s entry in the incorrect month or they will be disqualified, with no refund given, and you won’t be able to enter it in the correct month
  • no genre restrictions but must be fiction
  • open worldwide but written in English only
  • no age limit
  • please read your stories carefully as any spelling / careless mistakes will be marked down
  • only the first version of a submitted story will be accepted. Further ‘revisions’ will ignored
  • Fee: £3 per entry via PayPal (click on the first ‘Buy Now’ link below)
  • no limit to number of entries but £3 per entry
  • optional £5 fee for critique of the story you are submitting via the second (£8) PayPal link
  • no author will win more than one prize (ten prizes awarded)
  • the top three stories will be published on this blog and the main BeaconLit website. The other stories can be sent elsewhere immediately. The three winning stories can be re-used six months after publication. NB. You will need to tell the prospective market that the stories have already been published but winning / being placed is great for your cv.
  • any other reasonable rule we think of or have forgotten!
If you have any general queries about the competition, please use the contact us page and we’ll get back to you. No correspondence regarding specific entries will be entered into with the judge.
Speaking of whom…

Gareth is a journalist and a writer. He spent 30 years as a freelance for the Sunday Times. He first worked there on the Scene pages as a feature writer – reporting on nature, landscape, travel and conservation, when these subjects were little covered – and as a copy editor. He later worked in the Sunday Times News Room, and on the Sunday Times Magazine, in the Business section, and on the Property and Public Sector pages.

Gareth also spent twelve years as a feature writer at Radio Times. Another outlet was the Melbourne Age in Australia. Over the years he was one of the regular writers in the travel sections of The Times, Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday.

See his website http://www.garethhuwdavies.com for the range of his interests. These include the environment, nature, climate change and renewable energy. His other writing takes in two hardback books (one on the river Thames) and five e-books, variously on Turkey, cricket, and a Welsh journalist from the 1930s.

For more details about Gareth’s writing, see http://amazon.com/author/garethhuwdavies.

NB. Once you’ve clicked on ‘Submit’ and you get the ‘Message sent’ message, please complete the payment below. You can go through this process as often as you like, paying £3 per story submitted (plus optional critique at £5 per story). We will let you know if there are any anomalies.
If you suspect something has gone awry, you can use the contact us page and our competition administrator will get back to you.
Entry only (£3):
Entry plus critique (£8):