500 Words returns to BBC Radio 2 for 2014

Radio 2 Breakfast Show host Chris Evans today (Monday 20 January) launched his children’s story writing competition 500 WORDS for 2014.

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!”

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.

Last year, 'Mum' was far and away the word of 500 WORDS, with over 115,000 occurrences and regional variations, including mom and mam. Poor 'dad' only just scraped into the Top 15, although interestingly he did star as an action man in several of the Top 50 shortlisted stories - fighting aliens, exploding, and building a time machine!

The research also revealed that children are fanatical about fairy tales and mad for magic, with dragons, monsters, giants, fairies and wizards dominating the 500 WORDS corpus. Only man’s best friend rivalled dragons and monsters in the numbers stakes with 'dog' appearing over 25,000 times. Cinderella was the most mentioned leading lady – beating Bella Swan or Katniss Everdeen – the lead characters in Twilight and The Hunger Games. Cinders was also mentioned more times than ANY real celebrity.  

The competition closes at 7pm on Wednesday 26 February.

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