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What can you do to give your story the edge?

Whether you’re writing about war, slugs or magic beards, the way you tell a story is what makes or breaks it. The descriptions, the adjectives, the imagery that you use. The problem? You only have 500 words. That means that while you’re writing, you need to pick your moments to highlight with similes and metaphors without taking away from the plot.

Ashleigh and David Suchet at the 500 Words Final
You only have 500 words. That means that while you’re writing, you need to pick your moments...
Ashleigh May, 10-13 Silver Winner, 2017

The most important things to describe are people and places. You should try to describe not only what you would be able to see, but the smells and sounds as well. If your character is in a woods, consider the twigs snapping and leaves crunching under their feet and the smell of rotting wood. If it’s particularly hot or cold, that’s a great way to create an atmosphere.

That being said, you can use too many adjectives. In a sentence the most you should use is three as a general rule. Try to give your reader an image, but don’t make descriptions unnecessary or too long. The colour of the bricks on the pavement aren’t as important as your character’s face.

After you have written the story, the next most important thing is editing. Read through what you have written and see what could be improved. It doesn’t have to be straight after, in fact it helps if it’s a day later, to give you a sense of perspective. Try to re read it for mistakes or improvements at a minimum of twice and definitely before you submit it.

While all ideas are good ideas, try not to use ones that aren’t original or are overdone. It isn’t as interesting to read the same thing over and over as opposed to something unique and from your own ideas! Have fun with your creativity and imagination whether it’s about dragons or tea parties with squirrels.

Of course don’t just enter the competition to win. Enter it because you want your voice to be heard. Have fun writing and expressing yourself. Story telling is meant to be about sharing something special with others, not just trying to be the best. Winning is a huge bonus, but the joy that stories create within both readers and writers is what is most worthwhile.

Endings are what you leave your audience with and are very important if you want to engage the reader. There are plenty of different ways to end your piece. There are cliff-hangers, leaving the reader wanting to hear more, which usually come in the form of twists, or things that are unexpected. Secondly, you could have a funny ending, maybe dialogue or just a sentence to leave your audience howling. Finally, you could give a sense of déjà vu (the feeling that something has happened before) by using your starting sentence again at the end.

Anyone can write a good story, it’s you that makes it special. Good luck, whatever you write about and I look forward to reading this year’s entries!

Keep writing!

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