We are delighted to announce the top three stories from January’s entries are (in alphabetical order):
- Leaving Amy
- Lost and Found
- No Ending, No Goodbye
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 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 bumper month this time with eighteen stories received. I tend to judge short stories on how I react to them at the end. One of the top three stood out in particular with me going, “Oh yes, I love that one.” Each story was enjoyable for its own merit but they have to have something in particular to catch the judge’s attention. There were a couple of stories where I went “Huh?” at the end – not a good sign. I reread them and while they were more understandable, a second read hadn’t done enough to get them through. I’d recommend getting someone else to read your story, ideally in front of you so you can see how they react at the end. Friends might say it’s great but if they’ve frowned then that’s a sign that it may need some work. There were a couple of stories with a twist; one I guessed relatively early, the other much nearer the ending. If you’re going to have a twist, leave it as late as possible and while you don’t want to leave obvious clues, there should be a hint but also a red herring or three.
Following the reading of these stories, I thought it might be useful to provide some tips:
- 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’.
- 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.
- wifi / WiFi etc. is technically Wi-Fi but it blends in better with the rest of the text to have it as wifi. Everyone reading the piece will know what it means but it’s personal choice which you go for.
- Where you have a character shouting, don’t CAPITALISE THE WORDS! An exclamation mark (or ‘he shouted’ if there’s no description pertaining to that character) and the context should be sufficient.
- Do read your work aloud, or better still, get someone or something (Kindle Fire’s text to speech) to read it to you. There were a couple of stories that had words missing and this would have been more likely picked up through this process. It will also pick out where you would pause, and where you’d need to add commas.
- Speaking of which, 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.
- Some adjectives before nouns should be hyphenated, e.g. ‘a well-known celebrity’ whereas those without the noun, and adverbs, shouldn’t, e.g. ‘he was well known’ or ‘a softly spoken word’.
- We have sound and vision via dialogue and description but don’t forget smell, taste and touch.
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 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!