A TEENAGER'S dark tale of emotional abuse beat competition from more than 500 entrants to win a national short story competition.

Elizabeth Ryder, 17, a pupil at The Cooper School in Bicester, won the third BBC Young Writers' Award with her story The Roses.

Author and judge Holly Bourne described the 1,000-word story as a 'sophisticated, moving and just plain gorgeous piece of prose'.

Elizabeth, studying for A Levels in English literature, psychology, sociology, RE and history, said she was surprised to win after her story was one of five to be shortlisted.

She and her parents Hayley Ryder and Robin Harris attended the award ceremony at Broadcasting House in London on Tuesday.

Elizabeth, from Fringford near Bicester, said: "I really didn't expect to win.

"Of course I haven't actually experienced what I was writing about - short stories tend to feature horror and I have written stories for a horror website before.

"I think my teachers are pleased and my parents are proud.

"I really enjoy books by Terry Pratchett and Frances Hardinge and would like to write a novel at some point.

"You have to make time for writing if possible and then keep going."

Elizabeth, who lives with her parents and younger brothers Edward, 14, and Alexander, 11, is now looking forward to a mentoring session with a top author.

Judge Ms Bourne said: "I finished reading The Roses and promptly burst into tears.

"It was absolutely faultless and all the judges had it marked as a clear favourite from the get-go.

"Elizabeth has taken the complex issue of domestic abuse and somehow woven it into a stunningly dark fairy tale.

"A certain star in the making - I don't often use the phrase 'blown away' but it's completely necessary when it comes to this girl's writing talent."

Radio 1 presenter Alice Levine, chairwoman of the judges, said: "The author displayed everything we hope to find in a YWA story - originality, depth, imagination and maturity.

"None of us can wait to see what Elizabeth writes next - definitely a name for the future.

Elizabeth, who moved from Yorkshire to Oxfordshire two years ago, said the award was the biggest writing accolade she has received so far.

She added: "I came third runner-up in a poetry competition when I was 13 but this is a big national award."

This is the third year of the BBC Young Writers' Award, which invites 14 to 18-year-olds from the UK to submit stories of up to 1,000 words.

The shortlisted stories can be read online at bbc.co.uk/ywa