Keys Group 500 Words Writing Competition
What should I write about?
Your story can be about ANYTHING and can even link to real life!
Fun facts from non-fiction books, museums, zoos, newspapers, the internet and beyond can inspire incredible stories. Did you know a jumping flea can accelerate faster than a space rocket taking off into orbit? You could use this science fact to spark a story about a brave and daring flea saving an astronaut from bug-eyed alien invaders. What is the craziest story idea you can think of inspired by the facts you find?
Find inspirational objects at home
Unusual objects can be a great source of story inspiration. Raid your kitchen cupboards or hunt through the attic to find lost treasures. Anything from an old hat to a telescope will do the trick.
What could it be used for? Who might be looking for it? What secrets could it hold? How could the object be used in your story?
Developing characters for your story
So, you’ve decided what your story is going to be about, now comes the next exciting step, developing your characters. Every story needs a star. From famous footballers to pet hamsters and fictional superheroes, unforgettable characters make stories come to life.
Useful tip: Try to make your characters real; try to make them come alive on the page; try to make them people we’d like to know more about. Let us know what makes them tick.
Why not sketch your main character and write a list of adjectives around the drawing. Writers can use adjectives to create an instant picture in a reader’s mind. An online thesaurus can be an excellent resource for coming up with a list of synonyms for one adjective. For example, the boring word ‘sad’ can be turned into the more adventurous ‘down-hearted’. Have a look at the following website: www.thesaurus.com.
Creating a character profile is another way to help develop your main characters. Think about the following questions:
- What does your character look like? How would you describe them?
- Does your character speak or make any sounds?
- What interests or pet hates does your character have?
- Does your character have a hobby? What do they do?
- Where does your character live?
- Does your character have a family?
Great page-turning stories live or die by their plots.
“ I took the dog to the park” doesn’t interest me.
“You won’t believe what happened when I took the dog to the park” interests me. I want to know what happened, so I’ll stick with you as long as your story holds me.
To keep me engaged, you need a plot that grabs me and keeps me with you to the end.
What is a plot?
A plot is the sequence of events that makes up your story. It is what compels your reader to read until the end. Think of the plot as the engine of your story.
Useful tip: Starting on a moment of change or conflict for your main character is a good way to get us straight into the story.
Think about an event that will kick-start the plot of your story. Throwing the reader into the middle of the action straight away is a great way to grab their attention. Why not pick the opening scenes of a favourite book or film and give it a twist to create a new plot and story board for your own story. For example, what if Bilbo Baggins hadn’t met Gandalf at the beginning of The Hobbit but Smaug the Dragon instead……
Creating a plot is like climbing a mountain – each event in the story should build on the one before. An excellent starting point is to complete a story mountain to plan your plots. Think about the problems and challenges your characters will face. Why not include key vocabulary in your story mountain, this will then act as a prompt when writing your story.
There are four main parts of a story:
- Beginning – Where it all begins
- Build up –
- Problem solved
Every writer wants to find the perfect words to tell their story, and seeing as there are only 500 words to use, it is crucial to make the best use of each one.
Have fun with language. Play around with it until you find the right word.
Adjectives are of course describing words and a must-have for any story as they describe nouns and make sentences more meaningful. Adjectives help build up imagery in the reader’s mind. For example ‘A boy was cycling on his bike’, is pretty non-imaginative, but try adding several adjectives to help create a visualization in the reader’s mind. A scruffy and unkempt boy was cycling on his rusty, weathered looking bicycle.
A simile is a way of describing something by comparing it with something else, using ‘like’ or ‘as’. Using similes can help you to describe the scenes of your story in interesting and unusual ways. Complete the examples below to create your own striking similes. Try to choose unexpected words that will create an original picture in the reader’s mind. Then create your own similes from scratch!
soar like a _________________ as dark as _____________
as cunning as a __________ eat like a ______________
as tall as ______________ as red as _______________
Don’t settle for the first word that pops into your head. Flick through or access an online thesaurus to find more adventurous alternatives for overused words like ‘big’ and ‘nice’.
Here’s an example for you. With the use of a thesaurus,‘big’ can be transformed into ‘gigantic’, ‘enormous’ or even ‘gargantuan’.
Blending different words together to create new compound words can add interesting ideas and characters to a story. For example, blending ‘man’ and ‘suffragettes’ creates ‘manffragettes’, while if you add ‘water’ to a ‘yeti’ you end up with a ‘weti’! Challenge yourself to blend different words to create your own compound characters.
So, you have worked tirelessly on your story and about to write the last line, this doesn’t mean that you are finished though. From checking the plot, to describing characters accurately, authors check their spelling, punctuation and grammar and redraft their stories until they are the best they can be,
Write, re-write, write and re-write some more. Make your story the best it can be.
Make every word count
Revise and re-read your story to look out for any improvements you could make. Perhaps there are words or phrases that you have used too often, try using a synonym instead. Reading aloud can also help you hear any sentences that sound a bit clunky. Why not play around with the vocabulary and the order of words in your story until it sounds right.
What shall I call my story?
Of course no story will be judged by its name, but you want to do your story justice by naming it appropriately. Think about some of your favourite stories and their titles. What makes them work? Make up a list of your own attention-grabbing titles. This might be an intriguing title such as ‘The Grandads who flew to Jupiter’ or just the one word that jumps out at the reader like ‘Sharknapped’.