500 Words competition returns for 2014
Hay Fever and BBC Radio 2 have teamed up once again in 2014, and are very pleased to announce the return of the exciting story competition for children aged under 13. 500 Words was launched exclusively by Chris Evans on his Breakfast Show on Monday 20 January.
Returning to BBC Radio 2 for its fourth year, 500 WORDS will ask children aged 13 and under up and down the UK to put pen to paper to compose an original work of fiction using no more than 500 words.
Children should submit their stories via the entry form on the 500 WORDS website at bbc.co.uk/500words. Here they can also find an array of tools to help inspire their story - from the all-new Alphabot, which when pressed will generate five random words to help kids get over writer’s block. All 500 words in his databank are taken from previous entries, with over 250 billion possible word combinations to inspire young minds!
There is also a video where celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Gary Lineker, Tom Odell, Rob Brydon and a whole host of other famous faces reveal their favourite words and writing tips; and colourful downloadable lesson plans full of advice on penning the perfect tale.
Every single story submitted will be read by a brilliant, book-loving army of librarians and teachers from around the UK. The Scottish Book Trust are back on board, to shortlist the Top 50; and the competition's panel of best-selling authors return to Radio 2 HQ in early May to pick three medal winners in two categories: 9 & Under; and 10-13 years.
Chris Evans said: "500 WORDS provides a glimpse into the brilliant minds of kids around the country. These stories will amuse, thrill, delight and inspire you. So please: spread the word about 500 WORDS. And if you’re aged 13 and under, get writing!"
Bob Shennan, Controller BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music, said: "If anything sums up Radio 2's commitment to being totally distinctive, it is 500 WORDS. Putting a children's short story writing competition at the heart of the nation’s best and favourite music breakfast show is the perfect definition of public service broadcasting at its best and boldest. I take my hat off to Chris and the team."
Last year’s competition attracted over a staggering 90,000 entries. The 40 million words used by the children in their stories provided a fascinating insight into the way British children use English today, thanks to the word-crunching wisdom of the Oxford University Press. 'Mum' was far and away the top word with over 115,000 occurrences. Poor 'dad' only just scraped into the Top 15!
Joining the highly acclaimed judging panel this year is author of the multi-million selling Horrid Henry series, Francesca Simon. She will sit alongside returning 500 WORDS members head judge Richard Hammond, and best-selling authors Charlie Higson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman.
Entries can be submitted at bbc.co.uk/500words from today until 7pm on Wednesday 26 February 2014.
The Top 50 authors will all be invited to the 500 WORDS Final on Friday 30 May to hear the winners announced live from the Hay Festival on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, which attracts an average weekly audience of 9.35 million people. Six winners will be announced live on air and will get to hear their stories read out by a famous narrator.
The expert judging panel will be helping to captivate imaginative young minds and inspire would-be authors.
Richard Hammond says: "I'm staggered to be asked back: my most important contribution to last year's prestigious event was making coffee. Maybe that's why. But it is a real privilege to be involved. The standard of writing and limitless scope of imagination last year took my breath away and I look forward to having it taken away again this year."
Frank Cottrell-Boyce says: "There's something about 500 WORDS that really fires up the imagination. Judging the competition is like taking a roller coaster ride through a kaleidoscope. When else would I get the chance to spend the afternoon discussing the love life of a bacteria, the financial worries of tigers, a mouse with dreams of world domination and the secret yearnings of Stonehenge (it wishes it had a roof)."
Writing tips from Frank Cottrell-Boyce...
Malorie Blackman says: "BBC Radio 2’s 500 WORDS competition is such a wonderful way to tap into and highlight the creativity of our nation’s children. I so enjoyed being a judge for the 2013 competition that I kept all my fingers crossed I’d be asked again! I’m looking forward to reading this year’s shortlisted entries. I know they’ll be amazing. My advice to all budding writers out there hasn’t changed - write from the heart as well as the head and have fun! Good luck."
Writing tips from Malorie Blackman...
Francesca Simon says: "I started writing short stories when I was eight years old, and I only wish a competition like this one had existed then, which would have encouraged me to actually finish one. I'm thrilled to be judging this year's competition, which is such a great opportunity for children to spend time living in their imaginations, and seeing where their writing takes them."
Writing tips from Francesca Simon...
Charlie Higson says: "Stories are important. Mankind has always told stories to make sense of the world. And we all of us grow up surrounded by stories. The range and skill of the stories written by the kids for this competition are amazing. And it’s amazing how much you can fit into 500 words. So it’s an honour to be back for a third year helping to pick a winner. But, to tell you the truth, I mainly do it because it’s great fun."
Writing tips from Charlie Higson...