Last year, we launched a writing competition and Exeter-based Lucy Banks’ heart-warming tale Sol the Slug won from a pool of almost 1,000 entries. This festive season, we are looking for a new children’s tale but this time, the story will be a modern-day interpretation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Banks, on the judging panel for the competition this year, offers her advice for authors looking to enter. Some of her top tips include:

1. Write something that’s a little bit different. Kids love unusual characters and settings.
2. Give the ending special attention. Think about how you can incorporate an element of surprise; a twist in the tale that leaves the reader feeling satisfied.
3. Test the book out on kids first. They generally have firm ideas about what they do and don’t like, and they aren’t afraid to give you honest feedback!
4. Always keep your eyes open for inspiration. Sometimes even the most random events can trigger great ideas for stories
5. It’s a good idea to create a personal ‘writing zone’. Whether it’s the spare room, the dining room table or a local café – when you establish a zone, it’s so much easier to get in the right frame of mind to write.

“I’d initially been really hesitant about entering – particularly as my story was about a slug – and it was my sons who convinced me to, so it was doubly shocking to be a winner,” said Banks. “A lot has changed since winning the competition. This time last year, I was a full-time copywriter with aspirations to be an author and now, it feels like it’s finally happening after years of trying, and that’s an exciting feeling.”

To find out more, The competition closes on 7th November and all submissions must be no longer than 1,000 words.