Can you tell a fascinating tale in under 501 words? Then enter Ely 501’s creative writing challenge

Author Julian Sedgwick, judge of the 2017 Ely 501 competition.

Author Julian Sedgwick, judge of the 2017 Ely 501 competition. - Credit: Archant

An Ely-based creative writing challenge has set out on its third year of trying to find the district’s finest young story tellers.

Ely 501 has launched its challenge for 2017, which tasks children in the area with coming up with their most inventive and gripping plots in under 501 words.

The group has already been inundated with entries, but is appealing for more ahead of the challenge’s April 14 closing date.

And the man who has been given the task of judging the dozens of entries is children’s writer and author of the Mysterium trilogy, Julian Sedgwick.

He said: “I’m looking for sentences which make me think ‘I wish I’d written that!’ and stories that tell me what it’s like to be somebody else, or somewhere else.

“The best stories start from your own experience and from the heart; something you really want to write about, something weird you saw, something that made you laugh, something that excited you. Then let your imagination work on that, and change it!

“Find a great first sentence. It doesn’t have to be long, or fancy, just say something that makes me want to know more! And always write about what moves or excites you, even if you think nobody else is interested!”

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Last year’s competition received over 150 entries, with one of the winners using just 164 words.

Annabel Reddick, of Burrows Bookshop, who is organising the competition, said: “One of our winners last year completed an amazing tale using just 164 words. It was an amazing achievement particularly as the young writer was only six years old.”

Entry forms can be found at Burrows Bookshop, Ely and Mr Simms, Ely, and must be returned by Friday April 14.

Prize-giving will take place on Saturday July 1 at St Mary’s Church, and winners will receive a prize as well as their stories in a specially-commissioned book.