Narrative Essay Examples 500 Words Radio

'Defining Moments’

By Isobel Harwood

Winner, age 10-13 category

'Where art thou, Lady Guinevere?” …

Oh no! I don’t deserve this, do I? I sighed nervously, ragged breaths following, my second week of high school about to implode! As I turned, I saw Peter, missing his old knight costume, but beautifully improvised with a paper crown and branch sword. He was surrounded by a group of smirking teens, shooting names and sarcastic arrows. Peter didn’t notice! Not really! He was too absorbed, possessed by his latest role.

King Arthur’s face lit up. “Guinevere! My lady, I have returned!” I twisted my neck as if on some jarring cog, scanning behind me, praying for escape! …

I was four. Peter and his parents moved into the flat above and straight away, young as I was, I knew something wasn’t quite normal. Maybe it was the way his room was full of astronaut gear. Not your usual Buzz Lightyear plastic stuff; no, this was collector’s dream, real deal Nasa in the room above me! Maybe it was the way he spoke about space, a knowing far-off glimmer in his eye. When we weren’t playing Moon Landings we were building teleporters – only his were always a bit more elaborate than mine, real wires connecting, lighting up. My cereal boxes and three inches of Sellotape security never quite matched up! But we were little; it didn’t matter! Peter was the most fun ever, knowing everything about everything – really!

He didn’t like to be touched. He didn’t like me to move things in his room, not from their places, their carefully catalogued places. But we were little; it didn’t matter. Peter was still the most fun ever.

When we started school, it was fine, but as we got older, some of the kids thought Peter was a bit strange. They didn’t understand him like I did; they didn’t take the time. By Year 2 we had been champions of the Wild West, Leonardo da Vinci’s apprentices and soldiers of the First World War. I closed my eyes and listened to him as he became my talking history book, transporting us to another time and place.

I could almost see the smoke of the teepees, smell the oil on the canvas, hear the guns in my ears. We were the champions of the playground, Peter and I.

Yet the summer marking the end of our primary years saw Peter off to relatives in Ireland. Peter’s parents had set me the task of easing the change and so we had thrown ourselves into Camelot; Peter was to go on a quest across the water, leaving his kingdom and his Guinevere to wait anxiously for his safe return.

He caught chickenpox and was three weeks late!

Guinevere, meanwhile, met Katie and Alice and was on the way to “populardom” before term began. They talked hair, boys, boys… boys…! There was no escape. Smug faces beckoned, sneering, pitying!

Defining, pivotal moment… I knelt. “My Lord!” I grinned! Peter was still the most fun, ever.

'Coming Home’

By Isobel Murray

Winner, under-nine category

I feel odd. There’s no other word for it. My life is changing again. My brother Oscar and I had only just settled into life as evacuees and now we’re going home to a place I can hardly remember. I have heard about the war on Mrs Brisbane’s radio. I know that many of the houses have been bombed and some whole streets have been destroyed. Will I even recognise my home?

Thoughts are spinning round in my mind and I can hardly hear the train whistling. Oscar snuggles up to me and I know he is scared too, but probably in a different way. After all, he is only four.

“Don’t worry,” I whisper, pulling him in close. “Everything’s going to be all right.” I don’t know this for sure but it makes Oscar feel better.

I don’t want to show him how worried I am. The train is in a tunnel and I can’t help shivering. I’m not shivering because it’s dark; I’m shivering because I feel anxious.

Once the train leaves the tunnel, I gaze out of the window as the countryside whizzes past. It looks like a blur of green and blue. Flowers of all kinds are growing in the beautiful meadows, but my thoughts turn to my Mummy back at home. My bag is bulging with all the letters she has written to me and Oscar, but I am worried. What if my Mummy has forgotten what I look like?

I try to shake the thought from my mind but I can’t. I try to picture my Mummy in my mind, but my memories have faded, and all I can see is Mrs Brisbane. I miss Mrs Brisbane. After all, she has been a mother to me for the last two years. In fact, I think Oscar actually thinks she is his real Mummy.

As the train gets closer to London, the view from the window becomes dull and colourless, almost like a lost world. It reminds me of a toy city, which is old and cracked and nobody plays with any more. It looks dirty and poisonous, compared to the fresh countryside we have been used to.

As the train puffs into the station and then skids to a halt, my heart is thumping wildly as though a lever is pulling it in and out. As Oscar and I step off the train, my eyes dart from one end of the platform to the other. When I spot my Mummy’s face in the crowd, I grab Oscar’s hand and run faster than I have ever run in my life. When I reach my Mummy, I fall into her arms, and I feel like I could stay there for ever and ever. I don’t feel odd any more.

All shall have prizes

This year, over 74,000 short stories from children all over the UK were entered in the BCC Radio 2 Breakfast Show’s second 500 WORDS writing competition, launched in Weekend on January 28.

Over 2,000 volunteer teachers and librarians marked every story, then the National Literacy Trust helped the organisers to choose a shortlist.

A month ago, Chris Evans and the 500 WORDS judges Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Andy Stanton and Charlie Higson, and Head Judge David Walliams, met to award gold, silver and bronze medals for each category.

Chris took the Breakfast Show to the Telegraph Hay Festival for the climax of the competition. The six winning stories were read out by star guests, and the winners interviewed.

To listen to the stories see:

It can be argued that it is our imaginations that drive us forward, enabling us to create theories and inventions, new ideas and stories. Our imaginations enable us to perceive our lives as bigger, better or simply different.

Nothing is created without it having been imagined first. And creating stories as children is an excellent way of connecting with and strengthening our imaginations from an early age. Writing helps to fulfil that need we have to reach out, connect and communicate with others.

It was a love of reading that made me want to write my own stories, to create my own worlds. From the age of seven or eight, I started writing stories and poems for my own amusement, but it was only when I was in my 20s and after years of working as a computer programmer that I thought of pursuing writing as a career.

  • Malorie Blackman is a judge in BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition, along with HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon. The competition closes at 7pm on 22 February. Find out how to enter here.

As a child, we had a number of non-fiction books at home, including a full set of encyclopaedias, but my dad thought that I would never learn anything from fiction. Dad was a great believer in a good education and acquiring knowledge, so he was happy for us to have non fiction books, but fiction? “It’s a waste of time, Lori. It’s not real. It’s not true. You need to live in the real world.”

But Dad was wrong. Fiction teaches us empathy, shows us we are not alone, allows us to walk in the shoes of others as well as all that other good stuff about improving vocabulary.

Recent studies have shown that reading widely for pleasure has cross-curriculum benefits for children, enabling them to grasp new concepts and ideas more easily.

As a consequence of my dad’s attitude, practically every Saturday and most holidays found me at my local library. Rain or shine, a packed lunch in hand, I’d head off to the public library to read as many books as I could during the day before taking out enough books to last me until the following week.

I can honestly say that I would never have become an author if it hadn’t been for my local library. The librarians got to know me and would recommend books that I might enjoy. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë were both librarian recommendations when I was 11. To this day I thank them for that.

I devoured so many library books – both contemporary and classical – that I could never have afforded to buy. My reading tastes were eclectic to say the least, ranging from Ancient Greek and Roman stories, Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, Victorian novels, myths and legends and contemporary novels across all genres.

Thousands of books over a number of years and yet not one of them by an author of colour. The Color Purple by Alice Walker was the first book I read by a black author, and that was when I was 21. Even with my active imagination, I never considered becoming an author because I’d never come across any authors of colour before then.

And far more insidious was the belief that though I loved stories, I was not really a part of the world of literature because I never saw myself or my life reflected in any of the books I read. That’s why it is so important to me to do as many school visits as possible, to show all of our children that authors come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and colours.

I remember vividly how certain books unlocked the doors to wider reading and the introduction of new concepts, ideas, visions. Reading Chocky by John Wyndham when I was ten had me devouring all the science fiction books I could get my hands on. In later years, reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry revised my low opinion of westerns.

For me, this is the joy of reading – the immersion into different world views and different ways of thinking and being. Every author I know wanted to write for the same reason – a love of reading.

Radio 2’s 500 Words is a truly wonderful annual competition that I only wish had been around when I was a child. With two story categories, for five-to-nine-year-olds and ten-to-13-year-olds, 500 Words is an open invitation to the nation’s children to dust off their imaginations and write a 500-word story.

In 2017 there were over 130,000 entries. But to any child thinking of entering, don’t let the fact that so many children send in stories put you off. If you never enter, you’ll never win! So what would be my advice to any child or adult who wants to write and who isn’t sure where to start? Enjoy yourself.

If you enjoy writing your story, we’re more likely to enjoy reading it. Don’t copy anyone else’s style. Your style is what will make your own story unique.

Write from the heart as well as the head. Don’t be afraid to write about the subjects that make you laugh, cry, scared or angry.

Don’t just think about what you’re writing, feel it too. That’s what will lift the words off the page. Create characters your readers will care about. Have your characters take us through the story so we can experience their journey with them.

And, most importantly, don’t give up.

Good luck!

By Malorie Blackman

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