Posted in writing, competitions, critique

BeaconLit Second Year 500-word comp Round 1 – August 2018 winners announced

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

  • Chasing the First
  • Coming of Age
  • Cupboard Love

Narrowly missing out…

  • The First Time
  • The Red Bicycle

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 top three which will be published on this website (and on http://www.beaconlit.co.uk) 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 incredibly strong month with eight chosen for a longlist then five then the final three. In another batch, any of those could have made it. A couple of stories lost points because there were words missing or the wrong word used, e.g. forminstead of from, an ofinstead of on. An easy mistake to make, and one that the spell checker may not pick up but this is where reading aloud or ideally getting someone, or something (a Kindle Fire or your computer) to read it to you.

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

  • we speak in contractions (e.g. I’mrather than I am) and it’s fine (preferred) to use them in dialogue though less so in narration.
  • 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.
  • 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 there are characters thinking, the thoughts should go in italics so it’s clear it’s not narration or speech. Also we only think to ourselves so you don’t need the ‘to himself / herself’.
  • 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.
  • regarding split infinitives, 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.
  • anymoreis time e.g. I don’t want this anymore… whereas any moreis quantity, e.g. do you have any more?
  • when writing past tense narration, agois present tense so ‘two years ago’ wouldn’t be two years ago. Ditto tomorrow isn’t tomorrow (today isn’t today etc.). Tomorrow is the next day / the day after, today is that day, yesterday is the day before / a day earlier, tonight is that evening / night etc. Dialogue is present tense so they’re fine in speech.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • stories are tales, storeys are layers / floors of buildings.
  • parents – parents are plural so if you’re referring to anything belonging to them, e.g. his parents’ house then the apostrophe needs to come after the s.
  • where there’s a gap in time 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 shouldn’t go into more than one character’s head per section.

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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.

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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. Good luck!

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Posted in writing

The Second BeaconLit 500-word competition is launched

Following the success (we raised over £500 for the local libraries!) of the first BeaconLit second 500-word (maximum) competition we are running it for a second year… and hopefully for many years to come… for as long as you keep entering. 🙂 and yes, still in collaboration with Morgen Bailey.

The yearly BeaconLit Festival is running its second 500-word (maximum) competition in collaboration with Morgen Bailey. Details below and on the https://beaconlitblog.wordpress.com/500-word-competition page…

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’.
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.

Posted in competitions, writing

BeaconLit 500-word comp (final) Round 11 – May 2018 winners announced

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

  • Love your Fete
  • ‘Mayday, Mayday’
  • The Wisdom of Scarecrows

These three 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.

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 top three which will be announced (and possibly read out) at the festival then published on this website (and on http://www.beaconlit.co.uk and Morgen’s blog).

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:

“Another fantastic selection of stories to end this year’s competition. There were sweet stories, sad ones, funny ones. I won’t be seeing Mary Berry in the same light from now on! Many could have made the top three but it was those that made me laugh, go “Ooh” or “Wow” and were closest to the theme that made the grade, as the cliché goes.

“Please don’t be disappointed if your story hasn’t been selected this month as seven made the shortlist with a tough choice to chop four. In most months, there were stories that so loosely followed the theme that the story could have happened during any other month (in that season or the year) or the person named after the month could have easily been called something else. There should be more substance to the story, fitting closer to the theme.

“The stories that didn’t make the top three each month can’t be entered it again to this competition but there are many other outlets that would likely be suitable. I don’t get to see who has sent which stories but I have been very impressed by the quality of the submissions and I’m a tough crowd. You’re putting pen to paper and / or fingers to keyboard so you should all be incredibly proud.”

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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.

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The competition is now closed for this year. We thank you for all your submissions and look forward to reading your stories next time round.

Posted in competitions, critique, writing

BeaconLit 500-word comp Round 10 – April 2018 – winners announced

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

  • April’s Fool
  • Dents de Lion
  • Gone but Not Forgotten

(‘Two Women’ only just missing out)

These three stories will now go through to the final judging which takes place when the final (eleventh) round closes on 31st May. The results of that month will be revealed mid-June and the final ten 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.

If your story isn’t listed above, you are welcome to do whatever you like with them hereon in. If your story is listed, it’s possible that it could be placed in the top three (next July – see below) which will be published on this website (and on http://www.beaconlit.co.uk).

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 love mix of stories. Again some could have been set at any point in the year with April mentioned almost as an addition rather than the story created with that month in mind… or so they felt. The winning stories though were chosen because of my reaction to them. A “wow” at the end of a story usually means it’s going to do well. Anything ranging from an ‘ah’ to ‘ooh’ is also likely to at least beat those to which I go “Huh?”, and there’s often at least one of those. Get someone else to read your story and see how they react. Everyone needs a second pair of eyes / ears. I’d recommend the judge being at least the third.

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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 when going through before submission.

The final (May) round (where the theme is ‘May’) has already opened so don’t delay in writing those 500-word maximum (excluding titles) masterpieces. And do make sure you read them thoroughly before submitting.

Should you get through to the longlist of 33 stories (three per month over eleven months), it doesn’t necessarily mean that your story will be chosen for the top ten. And 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. So, the more (stories / months) you enter, the more chance you have of success.

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. Good luck!

 

Posted in competitions, critique, literary festival, writing

500-word comp Round 6 – December 2017 – winners announced

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

  • Festive Fayre
  • Letter Home December 1915
  • Wishful Thinking

These three stories will now go through to the final judging which takes place when the final (eleventh) round closes on 31st May. The results of that month will be revealed mid-June and the final ten 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.

If your story isn’t listed above, you are welcome to do whatever you like with them hereon in. If your story is listed, it’s possible that it could be placed in the top three (next July – see below) which will be published on this website (and on http://www.beaconlit.co.uk).

Morgen’s feedback on the stories received this month:

Another fantastic batch of stories. Many are character-focused more than plot-led and it was a pleasure connecting with them.

There were a couple of clichés which are fine up to a point in dialogue providing you stick with one character as a trait but less so in narration. Some of the stories had scenes where it was slightly confusing as to which character was meant when you have two characters of the same gender. An example (not from these stories) would be: ‘Gillian and Teresa walked their Scottie dog, Sasha. She was excited.’ Who is excited? Technically it would be Sasha the dog but the ‘he / she / him / her’ etc. will usually refer to the last mentioned name (of that gender) unless you specify that it’s someone else.

This was another strong month with three stories narrowly missing out on being placed. I tend to judge on how I feel at the end of the story. What you don’t want is for the judge to go “Huh?” at the end when he or she (the latter in my case) hasn’t understood what was meant. Given them an “ooh” or even “wow” and you’ve (hopefully) cracked it.

*

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 when going through before submission.

The January round (where the theme is ‘January’) has already opened so don’t delay in writing those 500-word maximum (excluding titles) masterpieces. And do make sure you read them thoroughly before submitting.

Should you get through to the longlist of 33 stories (three per month over eleven months), it doesn’t necessarily mean that your story will be chosen for the top ten. And 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. So, the more (stories / months) you enter, the more chance you have of success.

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. Good luck!