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. 🙂

Advertisements
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!

Posted in competitions, critique, writing

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.

*

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. Good luck!

Posted in competitions

The September round is open…

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

NB. It’s now too late to send any stories for ‘the first time’ (unless it also fits the ‘not what it seemed’ theme and 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.

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.”

*

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.

*

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, literary festival

The BeaconLit 500-word 2017-2018 season is closed!

Yes, the end of May brings our first year’s competition to a close. The results for May will be announced on this blog mid-June, with the longlist (of 34 stories) posted thereafter. The results (winners plus runners up) will then be announced at this year’s literary festival and the top three stories published (on this blog and the judge’s blog).

Late July, we will be launching the next season (running from August 2018 to May 2019) which willl no longer have the month as the theme but a different theme per month. The list will be announced after the festival (so after 14th July) and the 500-word Competition page updated (with the current season’s listings moved to a sub-page). This contains a list of the prizes offered: top two (cash) prizes plus eight runners up, all of whom win tickets to the 2019 literary festival. Next season there will be the same top ten prizes but additional prizes to be announced alongside the themes.

Thank you to all of you who entered.  Congratulations to those authors who were selected. Commiserations to those who missed out. The standard was incredibly high so don’t feel bad and you still have the story to send elsewhere. Hopefully those receiving critique will have found it useful not only for that piece but with your writing ongoing.