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!