Tag Archives: 500 words

You’ve gotta be in it to win it

WinPhil: Radio 2 are running their annual 500 word short story competition for 4 -13 year olds. A story writing competition has got to be a good idea and I wish it had been around when I was young enough to enter.

As a child, I loved writing stories. I quite liked illustrating them as well. Somewhere there is a Mr Men story complete with drawings in a notebook by P.Parker. However, much as I enjoyed writing (something that all children have beaten out of them by school English lessons) I wonder if I’d have got beyond the “nice idea” stage of entry?

Little Phil loved building with Lego. Really loved it. You know how much time kidz nowadays spend hunched over video games? That was nothing compared to me and Lego.

An opportunity presented itself one day. The local toy show ran a Lego building competition. The rules specified the size of baseplate but after that you were on your own.

I knew this was my time. I was the greatest Lego builder in the world. Whatever I did was going to be brilliant and I’d sweep away all others with my magnificence.

Building started. I can’t remember why but I’d decided to build a dolphinarium. There would be a pool, a stand for the crowd and a couple of performing dolphins.

I had decided that to be extra special, the pool would be full of real water. Also, since tiny dolphins were impossible to make with bricks, mine would be made of Blu-tack. It was going to be brilliant.

Sadly, Lego pools aren’t waterproof and I quickly had a wet bedroom carpet. Blu-tack isn’t very good for making strong dolphins either, at least not strong enough to stand on their tails as though leaping for a fish.

Unable to solve these immediately, I lost interest and before you know it, the closing date had passed. I looked at the entries in the shop window and knew that I could have done at least as well, if not better. The difference was that they had entered and I had only dreamed of it.

The good news is this is a lesson learned. We’ve launched our book into the world simply because it will never sell if we don’t. By last summer we were both fed up with being nearly authors. The world is full of people like that. Those who think they would like to write a book. We had written one and just needed to get over the line with a final push.

OK, we aren’t selling millions, but then Harry Potter took a while to take off and there is the Nolan marketing battleship yet to be deployed. It doesn’t matter, with the book out, things might happen. If I’d actually removed my dolphinarium from the soggy bedroom and taken it to the toy shop window maybe I’d be a professional Lego model maker by now.

So, if you have a child young enough to enter 500 words, get them writing. If they don’t enter, they can’t win.

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500 Words

500 WordsPhil: Because I am old (Apparently, although not old enough to shop at Marks & Spencer. Still at least 130 years too young for that) during the day, my wireless is tuned to Radio 2.

In the morning, they have been running a short story competition for children entitled “500 Words”. This tells you pretty much all you need to know about the rules. Sadly, we are too old to enter but that doesn’t mean they will be short of stuff to read. This year, there have been 120,000 stories submitted. That’s one child in 30 taking part – an impressive statistic.

With all these words, 50 million, there is an interesting analysis performed by the Oxford University Press. You can read the full report in PDF form here.

Children use the characters around them as characters in the stories they make up. Minions, from the film Despicable Me, are big this year. Lego gets a look in with and increased appearance too.

Sinkholes have been in the news and obviously attracted a lot of attention. You can see why – who knows what is at the bottom of the crevasses that has suddenly opened up? (Geologists I suppose, but I bet their answers are boring).  News programmes full of flooding earlier in the year have provided some handy jeopardy, perhaps the kids are putting themselves in the soggy shoes of those they see on-screen.

Cynics will scoff but I think this is brilliant. Children have always made up stories, I know I did, and encouraging them to limber up their imagination is surely a good thing.

Mind you, reading Chris Evans height in books might take them until they hit university!


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