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Ghost Stories (For 5-11 Year-Olds)

5-11 Years

Get involved in writing a ghost story today...

A ghost story is such a popular style of creative writing that never goes out of fashion! We're inviting children aged 5-11 to write their own spook-tacular short story...

Budding writers could be inspired by a ghost, monster, vampire or creepy place such as a graveyard or an old house in the woods.

Enter your child into the competition and they could be published in a real book and receive a certificate.

There is 250-word limit, prizes up for grabs and it's free to enter... why not get your child inspired to write a ghost story today?

3 Tips for Writing Spooky Stories from Author Paul Westmoreland

By Paul Westmoreland | AuthorGuest BlogTop TipsWriting Tips

Author Paul Westmoreland gives his top tips for writing spooky stories.

Everyone loves spooky stories filled with haunted houses, creepy castles and ghostly goings on, especially around this time of year.

So how do you tip-toe across the creaking floorboards of writing spooky stories and find your way to a world filled with terrifying monsters and stinky slime that makes your readers want to scream and hide in terror?

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If you want to really scare your readers, start by thinking about what in the world scares you? Chances are, if you find it terrifying, writing about it will scare other people too, even if it sounds absurd, because a great horror writer can make anything scary.

A good example is what happened to a friend of mine… She was scared of cupboards. Now, cupboards might not seem very scary to you or me, but the night she moved into a new house my friend couldn’t sleep because the place was full of cupboards she’d never opened. This might sound silly, but it was seriously scary to her, because that night all she could think about was what might come out of all the cupboards if she dared to fall asleep.

If that’s not a great start to a spooky story, I don’t know what is! So, start by thinking about what scares you!

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It’s easy to make a monster look scary, or act in a scary way. Just look at any episode of Scooby Doo. But the way to make your monsters truly scary is to decide why they’re scaring your characters. Zombies are scary because they look horrible, but it’s the fact they want to eat your brains that makes them truly terrifying. Vampires make you jump by stepping out of the shadows or rising from the grave, but it’s their desire to drink your blood that makes us all run a mile at the first sign of trouble.

So, pick your monster’s motivation and let them run riot on a blood-curdling rampage!

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Truly terrifying monsters have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. Ghosts can move things and glide effortlessly through walls. Count Dracula can turn into a bat, a gas, hypnotise people, and even crawl up walls! These things are terrible for the characters you’re terrifying, but they’re great for writers because they enable your monsters to scare your readers in lots of different ways. And the more you can scare them the better your story!

On the flip-side of all these skills are their weaknesses. Again, Count Dracula is sent running by sunlight that’ll turn him to dust, garlic chokes him, Christian crosses scare him and a stake to the heart will even kill him! These things all give your heroes a fighting chance to survive and that’s vital for a great story: you have to give your characters the hope of surviving. This makes your readers root for them, hope they can make it through the night, and keep reading to the very last word of your story, even if it ends with certain doom!

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The most important thing about Halloween is also the most important thing about writing, and that’s to have fun. So even if getting scared isn’t your idea of a good time, you can still enjoy yourself and write a great Halloween story. 

This is exactly what I do when I write my books about Rudy and his adventures. He might be a werewolf whose best friends are a mummy and a ghost girl, but they always work together and make sure everything works out, even if their adventures take them to scary castles in the middle of a thunderstorm or deep into gnarly forests at the dead of night.

So as I say, have as much fun as you can and you’re sure to write some fantastic Halloween horror stories. Good luck!

Paul Westmoreland is the author of Rudy and the Wolf Cub and Rudy and the Monster at School (Oxford Children’s Books, 5+) published 6 October 2022 with more books to follow.

The Stuck-In Prize for Creative Writing

Amaze us with your brilliance. Tell us what’s on your mind.

The ability to find possibilities, no matter the difficulties, is what Stuck-In is all about. We believe the ability to meet challenge with creativity is a gift young people bring to a world which needs new solutions, now.

Submission Guidelines:

  • The topic of this prize is: Using Creativity for Change
  • You may submit a short story, poem, song, essay, rap or spoken, filmed piece
  • It may not exceed 1000 words
  • We are looking for a response which best reflects the topic.
  • Your submission can be typed, written neatly and scanned or recorded.
  • Do your best with spelling but it doesn’t have to be perfect – we just want to read something inspiring, positive and creative
  • This competition will close after the first 200 entries have been received

The winner will receive:

  • £50
  • Publication on our website and socials
  • 1:1 critique with an Oxford English graduate

There will be one runner-up in this competition. The runner-up will receive:

  • A 1-1 feedback session on their story and have their story published on our website.

The 500 Words initiative

The 500 Words initiative was created by Chris Evans and first launched in 2011, celebrating its 10thanniversary in June this year and boasting an extraordinary legacy with over one million entries submitted to date. The most recent competition was turned around in less than four weeks with the backing of Virgin Radio, many of the UK’s leading publishing houses, Amazon Alexa, and WHSmith, alongside a whole host of celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, sport, music and more.

With ongoing support from Oxford University Press, The Reading Agency, Parents and Teachers, the future of 500 Words is bright, and we look forward to setting a new theme for the competition in 2021. We are excited to continue to provide a creative platform to hear children’s voices.

Make sure you look out for the new edition of the competition, announced in Spring 2021.

Green Jelly Bean Short Story Award, ages 9-11

The Green Jelly Bean prize honours imagination.

Let us publish your work.

4 best friends who were never bored. Each had imagination as their superpower. They played hard, they dreamt big. Two of them (pink & blue) are your judges.

Submission Guidelines:

  • We want you to write your best short story about four friends
  • They can go anywhere and get up to anything so let your imagination run wild!
  • Your story should be between 500 and 750 words
  • You can type it or write it up as neatly as you can and scan it in
  • Do your best with spelling but it doesn’t have to be perfect – we just want to be wowed by your story!
  • This competition will close after 200 entries have been received

The winner will receive:

  • £30 book voucher from your local bookshop
  • Your story published on our website
  • A 1-1 feedback session with an Oxford English graduate on your story.

There will be one runner-up in this competition. The runner-up will receive:

  • a 1-1 feedback session on their story and have their story published on our website.
Alice through the looking glass missing chapter competition
Stretch those creative muscles and commemorate 150 years of the ‘Through the Looking-Glass’! The Lewis Carroll Society is launching a writing competition to celebrate the creativity of the author of the ‘Alice’ books. The award is part of the bequest from Ellis S Hillman. He was the first President of the Lewis Carroll Society in 1969.
The Challenge

Write a ‘missing’ chapter for either Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass. You can create new characters or re-use existing characters; create new scenarios or use an existing scenario and follow on.

Competition Details

There is no charge for entering the competition and the closing date is Saturday, July 3rd, which is Alice’s Day in Oxford this year. The final results are expected to be announced in the first week of August.

The Lewis Carroll Society wish to encourage reading, writing and creativity across all age groups. There are three prizes of £100 each for three separate age groups – up to 16 yrs old, 16-20, over 20 yrs. Entries to be between 500 to 2000 words, depending on age.

There will be additional prizes of Chris Riddell’s new book Through the Looking- Glass and What Alice Found There for the winner and runners-ups.