500 words shortlisted entries

Congratulations to all those shortlisted in the BBC 500 words short story competition. There are some great stories, so if you fancy a quick read head over to the BBC website.

This is the third year that Mrs Lown has been a judge for the 500 words competition. So we thought we’d ask her a little bit about the judging process.

What made you decide to volunteer to be a 500 words judge?

It was a little bit of everything really. I love a great story, had some free time and think it’s really important that children have the opportunity to write stories and enter competitions. 500 words is great because there are so few rules, you can write about anything.

What makes a story stand out?

So many different things; it can be a great character, an unusual setting, a surprising plot twist. Anything that I don’t expect and makes me sit up and think.

How are stories judged?

There are five different criteria;

  • originality
  • plot
  • characterisation
  • language
  • enjoyment.

Each one is given a score out of 10. It’s quite a simple process, though sometimes it can be tricky. My favourite criteria is enjoyment, it encompasses the whole judging process. Anything that makes me want to read it again or gives me that spark of happiness, scores really high.

What’s your favourite part of being a 500 words judge?

It’s great to be able to see stories written by children and young people all over the country. Each one is like a little snapshot into someone else’s life. I really like how you can see what interests kids and the things that matter to them.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to enter next year?

Practise. Like anything, you don’t get good at it overnight. Plus, it can be really hard to get a whole story into just 500 words!

Write the stories you’d want to read, chances are if it’s something that interests you, someone else will want to read it too.

Get writing,

The ILC team.