Short story ideas – 500 Words competition tips

Boy writing surrounded by bluebells
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Write your own woodland-inspired short story and enter BBC Radio 2's 500 Words short story competition (Photo: WTML)

BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words 2018 story competition is now open to entries! All you have to do is pen a story of up to 500 words and submit it online by 22 February. There’s a category for kids aged five to nine, which is great news for Nature Detectives.

If you’re one of the winners, a celebrity superstar will read your story on live radio. But you don’t have to be a winner to attend the fab final event at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace – every budding author will be entered into a ballot to win tickets. It promises to be a right royal occasion!

Stuck for inspiration? Don’t worry as we have a few ideas to get you started. Woods are mysterious places where you can really let your imagination go wild, so why not take along your notebook and pen next time you go for a woodland wander?

Short story ideas for the 500 Words competition

If trees could talk

An old, gnarled tree may have been around for more than a century so it will have lots of stories to tell. A tree’s story could be about the animals that have lived in its hollows, or the children that have climbed it.

A bird’s (or minibeast’s) eye view

It’s fun to see the world from a different perspective. Your main character could be a bird. What would it be like to fly high above the woodland canopy? Or you could tell the story from the point of view of a tiny minibeast who goes on a great journey, overcoming all sorts of obstacles along the way.

An unusual friendship

Perhaps a fox and a rabbit, or two other unlikely creatures, become the best of friends. Your story could be about how that happens and what sort of adventures they have.

A story with a message

Perhaps people are planning to chop down a wood to build a new road, which means the animals will lose their homes. How can they stop it? Your story could help readers understand how important it is to save our woods.

Sharpen your senses

Don’t forget that how you tell your story is important too. Using your senses can help you create vivid descriptions to enthral your readers.

  • Look around you carefully – what can you see? Tracks in the mud, strange faces in tree branches, a hole or tree hollow where your animal character might live…?
  • Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the woods – the wind rustling through the leaves, the crack of a twig signalling someone’s approach, or a burst of beautiful birdsong.
  • What can you feel – perhaps a spider’s web brushing your face, or the breeze in your hair?

Good luck with your competition entry – it would be so exciting to have a Nature Detective among the winners!

What are your favourite woodland stories? You can chat about them using #NatureDetectives.

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