Posted in writing, competitions, critique

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 9 – April 2019 winners announced

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

Favourite stories:

  • A Public/Private Enterprise
  • The Shed
  • Upper Fiddling Town Council

Narrow missed out:

  • Missing Without Trace
  • Sausages
  • The Numbers Game

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th 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 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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) late 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. The current (May’s) theme, the final for this year’s competition, is ‘young again’, used however it strikes you.

*

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

Another very interesting batch. Many enjoyable, some strange (and therefore both!), some with more of a connection to the theme of the committee than others. It’s usually a ‘wow’ story that gets picked for the shortlist and, without fail, we had at least one of those this month.

Not for the first time, one or more of the stories this month was close 498-500 to the 500-word mark. It’s risky as it only takes an unhyphenated adjective (e.g. a well-dressed man vs. the man was well dressed) to push it over the 500. I’d recommend not going over 490 and there are always words that can be chopped… including ‘that’s, ‘which was’ etc.

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • when writing past tense narration, last nightis present tense should ‘the previous night’ or ‘the night before’. Likewise,yesterday is the day before / a day earlier,tonight isn’t tonight but that evening / night, tomorrow isn’t tomorrow but the next day / the day after, today is that day, last week being the previous week. Ditto ‘two years ago’ wouldn’t actually be two years ago. Dialogue is present tense so they’re fine in speech but not when writing a past tense story.
  • when you’re writing someone’s name when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
  • don’t forget to use as many of the five senses as possible. By default we have sound (dialogue) and sight (narration) but what about taste, touch and smell. It makes a story all the more vivid if we can have one or more of those.
  • I add commas where a reader would breathe if reading the piece aloud, which I always recommend the author do too, especially where a scene feels flat or you think it doesn’t work for whatever reason. Tip: although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.
  • unless a name, e.g. Thornton Village Committee, the committee is a common noun (like the doctor, the mother etc.) so would be small c.
  • like ‘erm’, we do say ‘well’ as a dialogue pause but it’s best not to include it in our writing, or at the most have it as a characteristic for one of the characters. Ditto ‘look’.
  • where possible, try to avoid splitting infinitive, e.g. ‘Terry turned over the page’ rather than ‘Terry turned the page over, the verb being ‘to turn over’. Sometimes, sticking to the rules will make the sentence clunky so you can’t always keep the two words together, e.g. ‘Tom put the book down onto the table.’ rather than ‘Tom put down the book onto the table.’ but where it’s unlikely to jar the reader then it makes for better English.
  • I recommend not inverting the dialogue tags as it’s not how we would naturally speak if talking aloud so to change ‘said Tony’ to ‘Tony said’. And there’s nothing wrong with said but if you have an accompanying adverb, e.g. said quietly then a stronger verb – whispered or mumbled in this case – is always preferable. Also where you have someone doing something, you don’t need the said, e.g. ‘That’s not fair.’ Mike slammed his fist onto the table.
  • technically, ‘now’ (and right now) is present tense, which is fine in dialogue but not in past tense narration. All, now, very and just are often overused so I recommend seeing how many you have in a piece and chopping where possible.

*

Although Morgen 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). 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 money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!

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Posted in competitions, critique, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 8 – March 2019 winners announced

We are delighted to announce the top five – yes, five this month! – stories from March’s entries are (in alphabetical order):

  • An Open and Shut Case
  • Blood Stained
  • Made in Toledo
  • Ties That Bind
  • Veg on the Edge

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th July. As with most months, there were more 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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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.

*

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

A very interesting batch this month and one that I knew would make or break. I love giving objects a voice so this is one of my favourite prompts but it can be a confusing one. Here’s why:

Three stories were disqualified this month for not following the brief – one a first-person narration, the others were third-person point of view. The theme stated that the main character had to be an inanimate object. Therefore any stories with a human as a main character with the secondary focus on an inanimate object, wasn’t following the rules. Sorry but to be fair to everyone, this has to be strictly adhered to.

There were several stories that could have made the top ones, including some with clever last lines or the reveal of what the object was close to the ending, so the reader could be challenged (in a good way) to work out what it was. I chose the final four because I got to the end and went “Wow”. Others were just as clever, perhaps even more elaborate, but had less impact; they were funny, sweet or sad but just missed out on having the ‘punch’ of the finalists of this round.

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • Wherever you have dialogue, read the exchange aloud without the description, e.g. no he said / she said etc. Does it sound genuine? We don’t speak in perfectly formed sentences. We interrupt each other. Have someone play the other person. They can give you feedback.
  • Where an action has ‘starts to’ / ‘started to’ or ‘begins to’ / ‘began to’ before it, most of the time they’re not needed because unless the action is interrupted, the verb alone works better / is stronger. An example would be ‘the phone began to ring’. If it stops without being answered then that’s fine (although it still rang!) but if not then just have ‘the phone rang’.
  • anymoreis time e.g. I don’t want this anymore… whereas any moreis quantity, e.g. do you have any more cake? 🙂
  • Technically, ‘now’ (and right now) is present tense, which is fine in dialogue but not in past tense narration. All, now, very and just are often overused so I recommend seeing how many you have in a piece and chopping where possible.
  • I add commas where a reader would breathe if reading the piece aloud, which I always recommend the author do too, especially where a scene feels flat or you think it doesn’t work for whatever reason.
  • Speaking of commas… Although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. At least not so many. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several. In my opinion, commas work best when the reader is supposed to breathe (or the writer wants to make the reader pause for a particular reason). They wouldn’t need to when describing an object and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.

Although Morgen 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). 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 money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!

Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 7 – February 2019 winners announced

We are delighted to announce the top four (yes, four) stories from February’s entries are (in alphabetical order):

  • Her Eternal Dance
  • Ringing the Changes
  • The Answer
  • The Real Love Affair

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th 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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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.

*

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

An interesting mix of stories this time. We had all sorts of love, human and otherwise, unrequited and destined. The three I chose were the ones that I felt strongest for at the end, whether happy, sad or impressed.

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips (in no particular order):

  • Hyphens are only usually used to connect words such as ‘a well-known celebrity’ (where it appears before a noun)* whereas a long dash (–) is used as a standalone, for an aside – (e.g. Tim laughed – as he did regardless – at Sarah’s joke) and interruption at the end of dialogue. *So a ‘celebrity is well known’ isn’t hyphenated.
  • Be careful of your tenses. One of the stories started in past tense but then switched to present tense with no reason for the start being in past tense.
  • Where you use inverted commas for speech, everything else (quotes within speech, reported speech, references, titles etc.) should be in speech marks. If you use speech marks for speech then you would use inverted commas for everything else.
  • When you’re writing someone’s name when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
  • Rhetorical question (e.g. It’s great, isn’t it) need no question marks, nor he / she asked.
  • Although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. At least not so many. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several. In my opinion, commas work best when the reader is supposed to breathe (or the writer wants to make the reader pause for a particular reason). They wouldn’t need to when describing an object and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.
  • There’s a brilliant list showing the order of adjectives at https://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/order-of-adjectives.htmland see https://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjectives/order-of-adjectives.
  • Where you have two characters of the same gender in the scene, it can be confusing with just ‘he, she, him, her’ etc. (they should always refer to the last character mentioned, e.g. Emma and Tim went to visit her grandfather. He thought the man looked tired. = Tim thought…
  • Like ‘erm’, we do say ‘well’ as a dialogue pause but it’s best not to include it in our writing, or at the most have it as a characteristic for one of the characters. Ditto ‘look’.
  • I’m old school and prefer no-one to no one but the latter is grammatically correct. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/no_one

Although Morgen 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). 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 money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!

Posted in competitions, critique, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 6 – January 2019 winners announced

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

  • Leaving Amy
  • Lost and Found
  • No Ending, No Goodbye

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th 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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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.

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

A bumper month this time with eighteen stories received. I tend to judge short stories on how I react to them at the end. One of the top three stood out in particular with me going, “Oh yes, I love that one.” Each story was enjoyable for its own merit but they have to have something in particular to catch the judge’s attention. There were a couple of stories where I went “Huh?” at the end – not a good sign. I reread them and while they were more understandable, a second read hadn’t done enough to get them through. I’d recommend getting someone else to read your story, ideally in front of you so you can see how they react at the end. Friends might say it’s great but if they’ve frowned then that’s a sign that it may need some work. There were a couple of stories with a twist; one I guessed relatively early, the other much nearer the ending. If you’re going to have a twist, leave it as late as possible and while you don’t want to leave obvious clues, there should be a hint but also a red herring or three.

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • Like ‘erm’, we do say ‘well’ as a dialogue pause but it’s best not to include it in our writing, or at the most have it as a characteristic for one of the characters. Ditto ‘look’.
  • When you’re writing someone’s name when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
  • wifi / WiFi etc. is technically Wi-Fi but it blends in better with the rest of the text to have it as wifi. Everyone reading the piece will know what it means but it’s personal choice which you go for.
  • Where you have a character shouting, don’t CAPITALISE THE WORDS! An exclamation mark (or ‘he shouted’ if there’s no description pertaining to that character) and the context should be sufficient.
  • Do read your work aloud, or better still, get someone or something (Kindle Fire’s text to speech) to read it to you. There were a couple of stories that had words missing and this would have been more likely picked up through this process. It will also pick out where you would pause, and where you’d need to add commas.
  • Speaking of which, although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. At least not so many. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several. In my opinion, commas work best when the reader is supposed to breathe (or the writer wants to make the reader pause for a particular reason). They wouldn’t need to when describing an object and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.
  • Some adjectives before nouns should be hyphenated, e.g. ‘a well-known celebrity’ whereas those without the noun, and adverbs, shouldn’t, e.g. ‘he was well known’ or ‘a softly spoken word’.
  • We have sound and vision via dialogue and description but don’t forget smell, taste and touch.

Although Morgen 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.

And you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page with an option to select critique within the entry form.

All the money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!

Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 5 – December 2018 winners announced

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

  • A Father’s Gift
  • A Special Christmas Gift
  • Christmas night

Narrowly missing out (in alphabetical order)…

  • All About Me!
  • An Unexpected Trip
  • Middle-age Christmas

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th July.

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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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.

*

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

As you can tell by the number of narrowly missed out stories, this month was a particularly difficult batch to judge. While the quality of the writing is important (the more mistakes made – missing words, typos etc.), it is usually how I feel at the end of a story that deems how highly it is placed. I whittle down the entire batch to my favourites then pick my top three.

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • While reading the stories, I got to the end of them and went “Huh?” Not a good sign. I reread the stories and one made more sense the second time but I still struggled with the second. Whatever you’re writing, it’s so important to get someone else to read it and give you feedback. As the creators of our pieces, we know what we mean by something, where our characters are, who they are. We need to portray that to our readers but leaving part of the story to their imagination. Leave too much unsaid (‘shown’, e.g. Andy yelled, “Get out!” instead of Andy was angry.) and the reader can struggle. Having at least two people read the same piece, you may well find they pick out the same things but also different things… and usually aspects you thought were clear. It happens to me too. Second / third (or more) opinions are invaluable before sending a piece anywhere.
  • There were some its that should have been it’s and vice versa (in more than one story). The easy way to remember is that it’s is a shortening for it is. If you can’t replace the its/it’s with it is, then it’s going to be its, e.g. its warm breath (the warm breath belonging to it). It’s(!) a little confusing when you would say the dog’s warm breath where the object in this case would have an apostrophe yet they say the same thing.
  • numbers under 100 are best written in full so they blend with the rest of the text (especiallywhere they are 1st and the likes as eReaders tend not to like superscript) so I’ve amended the ones that are. That said, I think all numbers unless titles (BMW Series 5) etc. are best written in full. Decades are plural so no apostrophe required.
  • Readers remember characters’ names from the initial letter so I always recommend having them as distinctive as possible. Having the same letter, same second letter and the same or similar lengths (e.g. Mark / Marx) can be confusing and again, anything that can pull the reader away from the story, even for a second, is to be avoided. Unless there’s a reason to use the same letter, e.g. siblings (two dogs in one of the stories, which was fine) then best not to.
  • Speaking of characters, when you’re writing someone’s name when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
  • In some stories I’ve added some commas where a reader would breathe if reading the piece aloud. Tip: although grammatically correct, I recommend that you don’t put commas between adjectives. It slows the pace… really slows it where there are several and anything that slows what should be a fast-paced page-turning read is best avoided.
  • And finally… I recommend not inverting the dialogue tags as it’s not how we would naturally speak if talking aloud, i.e. to change ‘said Joan’ to ‘Joan said’.

*

Although Morgen 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 thirty 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page with an option to select critique within the entry form.

 All the money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!

Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 3 – October 2018 winners announced

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

  • A Child’s Scent
  • A Windy Day
  • Victor’s Treats

Narrowly missed out:

  • A Memorable Birthday
  • Something’s Afoot

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th July.

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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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.

*

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

A smaller number of submissions than the first two months (ten vs. seventeen and eighteen, working backwards to August) but still a tough job. Yes, I know, all judges say that but it only actually takes two really good stories, or for this competition four, and the battle’s on. Sometimes it comes down to the closeness to the theme so apart from sending your best stories, do make sure they’re as relevant as possible. We can often tell when you’ve tailored something to fit rather than seen the prompt and thought, “Ooh, I know…!”

Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • Check your spelling. This sounds obvious but misspelled words (in this case one of the character’s names) does lose marks where it’s a careless oversight.
  • Punctuation, however, in competitions doesn’t really matter – unless it’s terrible and that can be forgiven as unaware but it’s up to the individual judge. In speech the comma or full stop comes before the closing speech marks or inverted comma.
  • This won’t show when you’re submitting in the online form but in a normal document… where there are characters thinking, the thoughts should go in italics (rather than speech marks or inverted commas) so it’s clear it’s not narration or speech. Also we only think to ourselves so you don’t need any ‘to himself / herself’.
  • Technically, ‘now’ is present tense so it would normally be removed or changed to a past-tense alternative. Dialogue is present tense so they’re fine in speech.

Although Morgen 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page with an option to select critique within the entry form.

All the money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!

Posted in competitions, critique, writing

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 2 – September 2018 winners announced

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

  • A Picture of Innocence
  • Saving Kaylee
  • The Class Reunion

Narrowly missing out…

  • The Red Box

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 2019 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 13th July.

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 http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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.

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

Some stories were 500 words or a word or two less. This is quite risky. It only takes a hyphenated word that shouldn’t be hyphenated, e.g. ‘he was well known’ rather than a ‘well-known celebrity’ to push it over the 500. Any story can lose a few words, even one as short as these. There was a really interesting mixture with some stories fitting very closely to the theme, others less so. Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:

  • Numbers under 100 are best written in full so they blend with the rest of the text (especially where they are 1stand the likes as eReaders tend not to like superscript) so I’ve amended the ones that are. That said, I think all numbers unless titles (BMW Series 5) etc. are best written in full.
  • As mentioned above, hyphens are only usually used to connect words such as ‘a well-known celebrity’ (where it appears before a noun)* whereas a long dash (–) is used as a standalone, for an aside – and interruption at the end of dialogue. *So a ‘celebrity is well known’ isn’t hyphenated.
  • When referring to family, mum and dad should be capitalised when used as a name, e.g. “I know, Mum.” When used as a ‘job’, e.g. my mum, my dad, my doctor etc. then it should be a small m, d etc.
  • Where there are characters thinking, the thoughts should go in italics (rather than speech marks or inverted commas) so it’s clear it’s not narration or speech. Also we only think to ourselves so you don’t need any ‘to himself / herself’.
  • When referring to family, grandfather, mum and dad should be capitalised only when used as a name, e.g. “I know, Mum.” When used as a ‘job’, e.g. my mum, my dad, my doctor etc. then it should be a small m, d etc.
  • Where an action has ‘started to’ and ‘began to’ before it, most of the time they’re not needed because unless the action is interrupted, the verb alone works better / is stronger.
  • When the narrator tells us what the character is doing and saying, everything connected with that character should be within the same paragraph and you would usually only use colons when about to provide a list (or similar).
  • I recommend not inverting the dialogue tags as it’s not how we would naturally speak if talking aloud, e.g. ‘John said’ rather than ‘said John’.
  • Where there are only two characters ‘they’ or ‘them’ is sufficient so we don’t need ‘both’.
  • Technically, ‘now’ is present tense, which is fine in dialogue but not in past-tense narration. All, now, very and just are often overused so I recommend seeing how many you have in a piece and chopping where possible.
  • Where there’s time passing or a change of main character point of view, there should be a section break (a blank line) then the first paragraph of the section being flush to the left. You can also use asterisks (usually one or three) between paragraphs. There wouldn’t then be extra blanks lines between the paragraphs, normally just the one line containing the asterisk/s.
  • When you’re writing someone’s name when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know John?’ is asking if the person knows someone called John. ‘Do you know, John?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called John but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
  • I’m old school and prefer alright to all right but the latter is grammatically correct (and preferred). https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/all_right
  • Where you have two characters of the same gender in the scene, it can be confusing with just ‘he, she, him, her’ etc. (they should always refer to the last character mentioned.
  • It’s perfectly fine to use exclamation marks when someone’s shouting (then you’d often not need the ‘he / she shouted’, but just one !

*

Although Morgen 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.

And now you can also receive feedback on your story / stories at £5 per story with the optional critique service (given by the judge, Morgen Bailey, who is a professional editor for publishers and independent authors). This option is detailed on the main 500-word Competition page with an option to select critique within the entry form.

NB. All the money from this competition goes to BeaconLit funds for the local libraries. Morgen is not charging for her time. Good luck!