500-word Competition

The yearly BeaconLit Festival is running its second 500-word (maximum) competition in collaboration with Morgen Bailey. Details below…

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 at the festival on 13th July 2019 and on the blog / website shortly thereafter. You can still of course mention your placement when submitting something else elsewhere.
  • Once the ten overall winners are announced, only the top three stories will be published so even if you are placed fourth to tenth, you can still submit your story elsewhere and can tell them you were in the top ten! The same goes if you are in the top 30 shortlist.
  • The results from each round will be announced on this blog and the literary festival’s website / blog with three ‘winners’ from each round going forward to the shortlist (of 30 authors / stories) which will be judged / announced the following June, and the final results announced at the following festival, i.e. July 2019.
  • Judge: Morgen Bailey is the judge for each round and the final shortlist judging. Her decision is final. 🙂
  • The top ten placed winners will be announced at the July literary festival, by one of the festival’s celebrity authors. See ‘Prizes’ below.

Deadlines / themes:

  • Round 1: First deadline: 31st August 2018 (theme = the first time), results were announced 15th September
  • Round 2: Second deadline: 30th September (theme = not what it seemed), results announced 15th October
  • Round 3: Third deadline: 31st October (theme = trick and treat), results announced 17th November
  • Round 4: Fourth deadline: 30th November (theme = a strange tradition), results announced 15th December
  • Round 5: Fifth deadline: 31st December (theme = ‘an alternate Christmas’ or ‘not feeling festive’), results announced 14th January 2019
  • Round 6: Sixth deadline: 31st January 2019 (theme = a fresh start), results announced 17th February
  • Round 7: Seventh deadline: 28th February (theme = the love affair), results announced 5th March
  • Round 8: Eighth deadline: 31st March (theme = your main character is an inanimate object), results announced c.15th April
  • Round 9: Ninth deadline: 30th April (theme = the committee), results announced c.15th May
  • Round 10: Final (tenth) deadline: 31st May (theme = young again), results announced c.15th June, along with the shortlist of the top 30 stories.
  • The final judging will then take place in June and the ten winners (see ‘Prizes’ below) announced at the literary festival on 13th July 2019.

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.


  • Fee: £2 per entry via PayPal (click on the ‘Buy Now’ link below)
  • no limit to number of entries but £2 per entry (form below, one entry / payment per form)
  • optional critique (by judge Morgen Bailey) 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 nearly £500!):

  • First prize: £75 plus up to 5,000 words critique* from the competition’s judge Morgen Bailey (currently worth £40) plus free entry to the following year’s literary festival in July 2020 (currently worth £25), plus publication on the festival’s website and blog
  • Second prize: £50 plus up to 4,000 words critique* (currently worth £32) plus free entry to the following year’s literary festival (currently worth £25), plus publication on the festival’s website and blog
  • Third prize: £25 plus up to 3,000 words critique* (currently worth £24) plus free entry to the following year’s literary festival (currently worth £25), plus publication on the festival’s website and blog
  • Seven further prizes of free entry to the following year’s literary festival (currently worth £25 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: £2 per entry via PayPal (click on the first ‘Buy Now’ link below)
  • no limit to number of entries but £2 per entry
  • optional £5 fee for critique of the story you are submitting via the second (£7) 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.

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 £2 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 (£2):



Entry plus critique (£7):