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!

Advertisements
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, literary festival

The December round is open

Hello everyone. Yes, the November’s theme of ‘a strange tradition’ has closed and December’s competition is now open. The theme is either ‘an alternative Christmas’ or ‘not feeling festive’ (or both!), to be used in any way you would like. Rules, prizes, entry form etc. via https://beaconlitblog.wordpress.com/500-word-competition.

NB. If you have stories ready for future themes, please don’t submit them until the relevant month as the entry will be disqualified with no refund given and you won’t be able to submit it in the correct month (because we will have seen it). It’s rule number four. 🙂

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, literary festival, writing

The November round is open…

Hello everyone. Yes, the October theme of ‘trick and treat’ has closed and November’s competition is now open. The theme is ‘a strange tradition’, to be used in any way you would like. Rules, prizes, entry form etc. via https://beaconlitblog.wordpress.com/500-word-competition.

NB. If you have stories ready for future themes, please don’t submit them until the relevant month as the entry will be disqualified with no refund given and you won’t be able to submit it in the correct month (because we will have seen it). It’s rule number four. 🙂

Posted in competitions, literary festival, writing

The October round is open…

Hello everyone. Yes, the September theme of ‘not what it seemed’ has closed and October’s competition is now open. The theme is ‘trick and treat’, to be used in any way you would like. Rules, prizes, entry form etc. via https://beaconlitblog.wordpress.com/500-word-competition.

NB. If you have stories for future themes, please don’t submit them until the relevant month as the entry will be disqualified with no refund given and you won’t be able to submit it in the correct month (because we will have seen it). It’s rule number four. 🙂

Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

The First BeaconLit 500-word Competition Longlist

Following the results announcement of the final month’s entries, we are now in a position to share the longlist of 34 stories (in alphabetical order):

  • A Dish Served Cold (October)
  • Alive Again (November)
  • A Pilgrimage (November)
  • April’s Fool (April)
  • Autumn Fair (September)
  • Back to School (September)
  • Black Friday (November)
  • Changing the Clocks (October)
  • Christmas is Coming (October)
  • Dents de Lion (April)
  • Edgar’s Last Stand (August)
  • Festive Fayre (December)
  • Gone but not forgotten (April)
  • Happy New Year (January)
  • Knickerbocker Holiday (July)
  • Letter Home December 1915 (December)
  • Love your Fete (May)
  • Making Mother’s Day (March)
  • ‘Mayday, Mayday’ (May)
  • New Starters (January)
  • New Year New Start (January)
  • No Running! (February)
  • Partition (August)
  • Seek and Ye Shall Find (September)
  • Spring Surveillance (March)
  • Summer Escape (August)
  • The Air That I Breathed (November)
  • The Keeper of Time (March)
  • The Wisdom of Scarecrows (May)
  • War of the Roses (February)
  • When Rambo Met Mitzy (February)
  • Wishful Thinking (December)
  • Wrongful Retribution (July)
  • Zapped (July)

Congratulations to those authors and commiserations to those not making this list. The standard was incredibly high so don’t let this put you off from entering (with different stories) again, and just as importantly sending your original submissions elsewhere.

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 2018 BeaconLit literary festival on Saturday 14th July.

The second BeaconLit 500-word competition will open on 1st August with specific rather than month-themed topics. As Morgen says, do try to make your stories as close to the theme as possible, so written around the theme rather than the topic slotted in as an afterthought. Even if it isn’t, you don’t want it to come across as such.