Tag Archives: competition

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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The 25th? Oh, it snuck up on me again…

CrimbobearPhil: Over lunch this week, I mentioned a Christmas based story I’d knocked together while my tanned friend was busy toasting herself and admiring the towels in foreign climes. It’s not been passed over for a bit of tweaking and pummeling to get it into some sort of shape before it appears in front of you.

What I’d like to do is enter it in a writing competition. Trouble is, that it really is a Christmas tale and I don’t think there is any point launching it into battle in the new year. Let’s face it, you’ve been eating sprouts and wearing a paper hat for two weeks, the last thing any judge wants to be faced with is anything that reminds them of this, no matter how elf-free the story.

Yet again, I’ve been caught out. In the magazine world, Crimbo was done and dusted months ago. Shops are focused on how quickly they can tear down the baubles and what bastard picked the CD of festive tunes currently on repeat over the sound system. From my days in food licensing, I know that the big chocolate manufacturers are rolling out Easter eggs right now.

The lesson is, if you want to write for a specific season then work has to start at least 3 months and preferably 6 before the big day. Maybe we’ll remember this next year. I’ll put it on my new calendar once Santa delivers it.


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Scrabbling around for words

Phil: As a writer, I am supposed to love words. Many people who do what I do, love nothing better than a night in reading the dictionary for new idiom to inveigle into their text, after watching the latest episode of Countdown anyway. Every morning they will be firing up the computer and watching as word of the day e-mails flood in. What they really look forward to is a good game of Scrabble.

The Guardian reports that Wayne Kelly has become the 2011 UK champion for the game.

Good for him. Even though I can’t get away from the feeling that “Caromel” is a mis-spelling and don’t know what half of the words on that board mean.

Words are, in my opinion, for communication. You shouldn’t be collecting them as random, disconnected collection of letters. There’s a good chance that the players don’t know the meanings. Even the tournament organiser admits that what you see on the board is “a very specialised vocabulary”. Arguably, you don’t even need real words. An agreed collection of random letters would do just as well. But then, that, for most people, is what the majority of the full dictionary is I suppose.

And since you as, I am rubbish at Scrabble, especially the computer version which I’m sure is cheating.

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Read. The. Instructions. First.

Phil: We were looking at a list of links to writing competitions the other day. Scanning down I spotted one titled “Write A Story For Bedtime Competition” and thought it sounded interesting. Actually I thought “I’ve got an idea for that, I can win and be rich, rich, rich !”.

A few days later, my notepad had the basic outline of a tale called “The little toy train” in its pages and I was starting to flesh this out in my head. The basic idea has been rattling around in my brain for years and the competition seemed a good opportunity to release it and free up some grey matter for something more important. I like it when stories demand to be told, it means they are probably going to be good.

Anyway, as I flexed my typing fingers in the manner of a concert pianist about to commence performing a concerto, I took a moment to follow the link attached to the competition. Just in case there were any tips, I skimmed through the instructions. Rule 7 jumped out at me:

Apart from erotica and children’s stories, there is no restriction on subject matter.

Oh b****r I thought. But without the asterisks.

You’ll not be surprised when I reveal that “The little toy train” is a story to be read to children. When someone says “Bedtime story”, that’s what you think of isn’t it ? Well except for the people caught out by the start of the rule and their idea of a bedtime story is completely different. And they probably though the same as me and decided to add it into the text.

So, my story sits as notes on a page. Sometime soon I think I will turn them into proper text – the tale still wants to escape my head and I need the brain space. But as far as the competition goes, it’s back to square one.

Write a short story competition


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