- A Public/Private Enterprise
- The Shed
- Upper Fiddling Town Council
Narrow missed out:
- Missing Without Trace
- 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!