Billy Does It Again

Back in 2010 I entered a story in a “cliffhanger” competition organised by the Swindon Festival of Literature in conjunction with the Swindon Speakers’ Club. The idea was that you got four minutes to read your story to an audience, leaving it “cliffhanging”. The author of the one the audience liked the best would then read out its last minute. (You had to keep within the time.) So I wrote and read out Billy’s New Hill, which tells of how Billy Mac takes two other children on an adventure, and I was lucky enough to win the competition. (Admission: okay, there was a field of exactly three. It’s still not bad though.)

Billy’s New Hill was about 750 words long, giving a reading-aloud rate of about 150 words a minute – which seems reasonable.

Now, I’ve been subscribing to and entering competitions in Writing Magazine for a while, so when the latest 750-word-limit competiton was announced in the February 2019 issue, I remembered Billy and his 750 words. The sequel, Billy’s Big Dance, takes place when Billy and his friends are teenagers; and once again, Billy’s story has come up trumps. He didn’t actually win, but the story was shortlisted (you can read the winning entry in the September 2019 issue of WM), and with a much bigger field, I’d call that pretty good.

Both stories are now on the Ten-Minute Tales page, under the awkwardly-titled Five-Minute Tales heading. Yay!

(I should mention that the version of Billy’s Big Dance that I submitted had “I remember the first time I held you” instead of the “second time”, for the simple reason that it’d look silly without the first story to refer to. But you, O lucky reader, get to see it in context.)

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