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2016's Terrific 10-13 Gold Winner: Ned Marshall

If you are reading this you are probably considering entering the “500 Words” competition. This time last year I decided to enter as well. I highly recommend you do too. Winning gave me a great feeling of pride. I got to be on Newsround and the One Show, and meeting the celebrities and the build-up was exciting.

Getting the story finished in the first place is an achievement.
Ned Marshall, 2016 10-13 Gold Winner

The day began when I woke up at 6 o’ clock. I ate my breakfast and walked down to the hotel lobby. Sitting there were all the other top 50 nominees, and it showed this was real. We walked through a bunch of security checks and we were led to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. I had never been there before so it was really exciting. The day went on and different bands played (including One Republic), we got an insight into how live radio works, and obviously, the winners were announced.

When my name was called out I couldn’t believe it at first, and it took some time to sink in. Could the winner really be me? I went on stage to receive my medal and I went to sit next to the other winners. After the Globe was cleared, we went to a reception with celebrities and food. It was all so shocking and sudden. I was on radio and TV when just a couple of hours prior I was ready to go home!

But what made the whole thing so good wasn’t the aftermath, or even the books, it was knowing that I could produce something that could win a competition as prestigious as this. Despite this, even if I hadn’t won, I would still have won in a sense. Getting the story finished in the first place is an achievement. Anyone who doesn’t win shouldn’t feel downhearted but happy they finished and have continued to write.

Anyone reading this could have all of this too. I have two pieces of advice:

1. Actually send it in. I said this on Newsround and I’ll say it again: without actually writing and entering there is zero chance you’ll win. This may seem silly but it’s true.

2. Write outside the box. Be different. Think how you can be creative and incorporate that into your story. Every winning story from last year followed these two steps: they all had a strong premise and they were all very creative. Before anything else you need an idea. Everything else comes later. Once you have that you have a great chance of winning. This is why using fancy language isn’t essential. If it helps your story to create an atmosphere or works with your plot, great, but don’t think that’s what will make your story. A great plot with okay language is better than an average story with outstanding language. Keep that in mind when you’re writing your story. Good luck.

Watch Ned's winning story being read out by superstar Nick Jonas at the 2016 500 Words Final.

Watch read by Nick Jonas.

Gold Award in the 10 - 13 category.

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