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This month’s writing competition is ‘scary stories’ and there are fabulous book prizes to be won including 13 on Halloween and Winnemucca by talented US author, Laura Elliott.

We’ve had some entries in already (feel free to revise and send in an updated version if you wish). For those of you who haven’t written your scary story yet, here are some tips:


Use all your senses 

Building up a spooky atmosphere is all about what your character can see, hear, smell and perhaps taste. Sometimes it’s about what your character can’t see. Your character knows that something or someone is there…but can’t see who or what it is…very tense…can be very scary. Your reader needs to be able to see, hear, feel, taste, smell, sense what’s there. What is the spooky thing your character is about to encounter?

Where is your story set?

As well as using sensory detail to create a scary atmosphere, sometimes the setting alone can be scary…a graveyard…and abandoned house…a dark cellar. Think about where you are setting your scary story.

Use your fears

Make a list of the things that frighten you. For example you might have had an encounter with a snake or a spider. Try to think about how this made you feel and act. This could be how your character reacts in your scary story. Did you shiver, cry, get goosebumps, faint, feel sick? If your character feels fear, your reader will too. Remember a scary nightmare you had. You can use these events and feelings in your story.


At least one of your characters needs to be something or someone that your main character has every reason to fear. When you are developing that scary character think of all the things that might make them scary. These could be things like the way they look, the kind of character they are (eg ghost, zombie), where they come from or how they act.

Starting your story

Start your story with a piece of action, something scary, something to make the reader realise straight away that this is going to be a scary story.

The Plot

In a scary story, you need to place your main character in serious trouble. Then it’s up to you to work out how they get out of it. Think of a scary movie you have seen or a book you have read. How do other creators put their characters in jeapordy? Would the method they have used work for your story?


Use strong verbs – make the characters actions and feelings definite. for example your character might scurry or flee rather than walk.

Particularly when you are at a high suspense part in your story, the use of short sentences with strong words can help build impact.

Good luck with your scary story. Here’s how to enter the competition:



US author, Laura Elliott is our featured author this month and she has kindly agreed to donate e-books of her YA novels Winnemucca and 13 on Halloween. As well as these great prizes there will be other books and  manuscript assessments to win!

In keeping with the theme of Laura’sbooks, this month’s competition is Scary Stories of 500 WORDS OR LESS.


There will be three categories in the competition:

  • 8-12 year olds
  • 13-17 years
  • adults

On your covering email, please advise which category your are entering.


  • Manuscript assessment of your 500 word story plus an additional 500 words.
  • Great books including Laura Elliott’s Winnemucca and Thirteen on Halloween


  • FREE: There is no cost to enter this competition


1.Submit a 500 word scary story you have written.

2.You MUST submit it in this format:

  • 12 point type Arial or Times Roman
  • double spaced (spacing between lines)
  • A4 sized page
  • 3cm margins all the way around your page

3. Submit your entry by email to Dee@deescribe.com.au

4.Please put Scary Story Submission in the subject line of your email. In the subject line please also include your name and the name of your story.

5. Competition opens 1st December and closes 31st December (Australian time)

All works must be unpublished. The judges decision is final.

Happy writing and Good Luck!







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One of the book prizes

Thanks to all the wonderful writers of all ages who entered our November Writing Competition! I really enjoyed reading your stories. The winners are announced below. We also encourage you to read the Judge’s Report at the end of this post.


Congratulations to the worthy winners and to everyone who wrote their stories and entered them.

If you didn’t win a prize in this competition, please don’t be disheartened. We’ll be running a competition every month at this blog and providing tips to help you with your entries.

Our winners for November are:

8-12 category

First Place (Winner of Toad’s Revenge and Blood Money – Hazard River books by JE Fison plus 5 page manuscript assessment): Rose Owen for her story, Grimble

Highly Commended: Leah Harvey – untitled story

Highly Commended: Asia J Jewels – Lili

Highly Commended: Willow Metcalf – Mel’s War

Commended:  Nicholas Dimotakis – Bob’s Adventure

Commended:  Matthew Dimotakis – The Mysterious Cube

Commended:  Sarah Black – Fire Attack

Commended:  Celine  Ng – The Vacation

Commended:  Aditya Kerhalker – Fred’s Secret Ability

Commended:  Gus Threlfall – Skate Skills

Commended:  Vanessa McLaren – When Elephants Could Fly

Teen Category

First Place: (Winner of Letters to Leonardo plus 5 page manuscript assessment) Joel Teixeira – Bad Moon Rising


Adult Category

First Place: (Winner of Letters to Leonardo plus 5 page manuscript assessment) Sally Hall – Day 6


Highly Commended: Michaela Sanderson – Kiah

Highly Commended: Kelly McDonald – The Hidden Fey

Highly Commended: Georgie Donaghey – The Story Unfolds

Another book prize in our competition

Commended:  Anisa Scott – Angels of Darkness

Commended: Dimity Powell – PS What About Christmas

Commended:  Dimity Powell – Gone Cruising



We received a large number of entries of a very high standard for our November ‘first page’ writing competition.


  • There were a number of entries that displayed great humour and imagination.
  • Some stories had very strong characters and voices. There was also plenty of great dialogue and tension.
  • Some very original ideas and great world building in these pieces of writing.


1. Always follow submission guidelines. If the competition only asks you to submit one page then don’t submit more than one page. Some competitions will disqualify you if you don’t follow submission guidelines.

2.Try to get into the action quickly. Some entries provided information that the writer needs to know, but the reader doesn’t. Try to introduce your character and their problem/goals as soon as possible in your story.

3.Make sure you identify your character early on by naming them and giving an indication of their age and the kind of person they are. This will help your readers engage with them.

4. Does your piece have enough tension? Does it get your character right into the action straight away?

5.Look at how other writers start their story. What draws you into a story? Try to apply these things to your own writing.

6.Show what’s happening through the character’s actions and reactions. Try to show the reader instead of telling them.

7. Try not to tell the story after it has happened. Let the action unfold for the reader.

8. Try not to complicate the story too much. Make the meaning clear for the reader.

9.Don’t overdo the description.

We hope you have found these tips helpful.

We look forward to reading your entries in future competitions.

Happy writing:)



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