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Leeds Castle News03 December 2018

Story Writing Tips for the Big 900 Story Challenge with Clare Balding

To celebrate the Castle’s 900th anniversary in 2019, we’re inviting children from all over to Britain to enter an exciting story writing competition: the ‘Big 900 Story Writing Challenge’.

Judged by renowned broadcaster and children’s author Clare Balding, the competition encourages children from two age groups (5-9 years and 10-13 years) to write a fictional story of up to 900 words based loosely around the themes of ‘castles’ and/or ‘time travel’.

But if you haven’t entered yet or if you just need a little help bringing your story to life, fear not. Luckily our judge Clare Balding, who will be helping us choose the two winners next March, has shared her very own top tips to help YOU channel your inner author… 

1. Aim for a brilliant first line. Make sure the first sentence hints at what the story is all about, and make it compelling from the very first word! 

2. Be as adventurous as you can with your storyline. The general themes for Leeds Castle’s Big 900 Story Challenge are time travel and castles. Try to be as original as you can with your story – allow your imagination to run free! 

3. Remember you’re limited to 900 words – so make every sentence count. Try not to over-describe every single thing in the story; part of the reader’s enjoyment is building their own picture from the clever clues you provide. 

4. Don’t be afraid to rewrite. The first draft is just that – a first draft. Be honest with yourself about where you can improve the story. Think of the rewrite as an opportunity to polish and polish until the words gleam on the page. 

5. Most of all: enjoy it! Writing a story is just as fun (if not more so) as reading one. You get to completely control the plot, invent your characters, and decide the ending.
Good luck and I look forward to reading your entries!

So what are you waiting for? Submit your stories here:

 There are so many fun prizes to be won, including a stay at our Knight’s Glamping and tickets to the Fireworks Spectacular.

Budding young writers have until 12pm on 5th March 2019 to submit their stories.