Chris Evans launched the second 500 WORDS short story competition on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show this morning. The competition encourages children (aged 13 and under) to write a short story of no more than 500 words on any subject. The entries are divided into two categories; age 10-13 and 9 and under and the closing date is 1st March 2012 (which is of course World Book Day)

The first event last year was a resounding success and the judges received around 30,000 entries.   The entries were whittled down to a shortlist of 50 and you can read all 50 stories at the 500 WORDS website. The fifty finalists were invited to the Hay Festival where the winning stories were announced live on Chris’ show.  The two winners were  Stable by Olivia Norton (age 12) and The Death Channel by Angus Barrett (age 9). As well as reading the two winning entries on the 500 WORDs website, you can also listen to them read by Anne Robinson (Stable) and Richard Hammond (The Death Channel). Watch the two young winners from 2011 chat to Chris Evans in a short video on the site.

This year, the organisers are hoping the event will be even bigger. Joining Chris on the judging panel this year will be five highly-regarded children’s authors; Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Charlie Higson, Lauren Child, Andy Stanton and David Walliams. The authors will be given the Top 50 shortlist in late April, before meeting in May to decide the winners.

The organisers are also looking to involve adults in the event, asking teachers and librarians to volunteer as judges in the first round of judging. Each judge will be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets to attend the live broadcast of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show from Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts on Friday 1 June 2012.

For a bit of inspiration, read the writing tips put together by a selection of top children’s authors and good luck to all those budding authors out there.

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