txtlit.co.uk - The UK's Easiest to Enter Writing Competitions

Example Story
Smash, grab. The hooded thief ran towards the busy high street where he would melt into the crowd. In his haste he didn’t look before crossing. Hit, run.
February 2016 Competition

Your February theme is 'Caught'. Write a 154 character story about some one or thing being caught preceded by the word STORY and a space, then text it to 82085. Cost £1+ 1 network text.

March 2016 Competition

March's competition theme will be announced at the end of February. Come back to see what it will be and to find out who has won January's competition.

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Competition Results

Results are published Below. Make sure you check back regularly to get the latest competiton news and themes.

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Remember, whilst the act of entring the competitions is easy, writing a compelling story in just 154 characters takes some doing, but it's excellent writing practice and makes for good disciplined writing.

All competitions cost £1 per entry plus the cost of a standard text message from your mobile phone service provider.

September Competition: Theme - The Ship Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Their course had taken the battleship far out to sea, away from the others. Suddenly, without warning, the craft was struck by a giant red peg. "Hit!"

Persistence has definitley paid off for Chad Elliot who wins our September competition after a number of Chad Elliotrunner-up places over the last 12 months. Chad describes himself as an American living in England and resides in Bristol. He has had success as a comedy writer, published in Viz Comic, Cracked Magazine and Weekly World News, to name a few. Chad is a big fan of old TV shows, classic films, great books, good gin, long walks for inspiration, and his wonderful wife Anne. Despite his successes, Chad admits to feeling he lives a substitute life, "like most writers/artists." But he also finds Txtlit great fun.

The theme for the September competition was "The Ship". At first this may have appeared a little restrictive, but we were delighted with the effort everybody put in to come up with such wide ranging interpretations as we received. Whilst the response was a little less than we usually expect, the quality of writing was very high. We settled on Chad Elliot's entry as the winner which contained some classic Txtlit story construction. We know everything in the opening sentence. A warship is far out at sea and for some reason has been given a special course which means they alone and separated from the fleet. They should be isolated and undetectable but suddenly there is an attack and the ship is hit. But it's not real. It's just a game of Battleships. The "missile" is a red peg that denotes the hit and we realise it was a tactical move to place the ship away from the others in order to mislead the opposition. A tactic that failed. An uncomplicated story in essence, but one that drew us in entirely and we really couldn't resist such an excellently executed twist.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

There's a chill on the air. Thick fog has already masked me, and my prey. The tall black sails are barely visible in the gloom. My time is now. I strike.

By Natalie Brown   

The ship swamped by wave after huge wave, listed badly. Drenched, the children with arms outstretched, waited for mum to lift them out of the soapy water.

By Angela Greenwood  

They'd said not to touch the control panel but she thought she'd polish it for the astronauts. Pam clung to her mop and pail as she floated off the deck.

By Marianne Paget 


August Competition: Theme - The Other Side Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

They barged past, trip-trapped to where the grass is greener and tucked in. Only it was hemlock. Deadly. I tried to warn them, but who listens to a troll?

Runner-up from last month's competition Laura Bridge goes one better to win August's competition with thisLaura Bridge entry. Laura, 38, lives in Bath with her husband and two young sons. She has been teaching primary children for ten years and in 2012 she completed a Masters degree in Education with Children’s Literature focus.  Laura tells us that she is interested in all children’s fiction from picture books through middle grade to young adult and that recent favourites include Clare Furniss (The Year of the Rat) and R.J Palacio (Wonder).  Accepted as a member of the Golden Egg Academy for 'promising children’s writers', Laura is not teaching this year in order to spend more time with her children and to dedicate more time to writing. Txtlit is the first writing competition Laura has won so taking time out is already paying off.

The theme for August of "the other side" brought out some interesting concepts from you, particularly of where we come across the other side in everyday situations but may not think of it as such. Perhaps predictably we had a number of entries referring to the other side in a spiritual way and also a number that referred to the grass being greener on the other side which was the idea used by this month's winner, Laura Bridge. Although it wasn't an entirely original idea, Laura has managed to put a twist on an established fairy tale and make it entertaining and compelling. We are teased a little early on and given a clue as to what may be when 'they' 'trip-trap'. No mention of a bridge though which maintains the mystery. The proverbial 'grass is always greener' comes into play and to deadly effect as we are told it's actually hemlock they are eating. The final line reveals all brilliantly. Not only do we discover that this is a re-telling of the Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale, but that actually the troll had being trying to stop them crossing the bridge for their own safety. It seems we may have had trolls wrong all along.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

The boy ran away as she looked at the bit of paper he'd given her; a receipt. She threw it in the bin, never seeing the message on the other side, 'help'.

By Rachel Ireland   

When his only son crossed over the grief was unbearable. But time is a healer. Now Tim was used to seeing Ben in the opposite stand, cheering for United.

By Chloe Banks   

And this one made us laugh out loud.

When Derek asked me out on a date after the cricket match, I don't think he quite understood my reluctance when I said I batted for the other side!

By Sharon Dexter  


July Competition: Theme - Mistaken Identity Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

"She really thought I was Tom Cruise! Works all the time. Boy, this chick was wild. Kinky, you know? Woke up with a headache. Oh, and this funny scar..."

Mistaken Identity was the theme for our July competition and it was won with this entry from 29 year old Bret Allen Bret Allen  who lives in Stoke-on-Trent. Bret's favourite genres are fantasy, science fiction and the supernatural. He tells us how he finds something fascinating about the comparisons drawn between real life and the fantastic. Bret's inspirations are drawn mostly from Neil Gaiman, Tolkien and Tad Williams, and he admits also from daydreams, nightmares and flashes of drunken insight. This is Bret's first writing competition win although he does have a self-published novella on Kindle called the Firebird and he's in the process of editing a collection of short stories.

The theme of mistaken identity inspired a superb range of entries from you all. There was some great variety of interpretation and some attempts at very deep plot ideas. A few stories that looked like they had potential unfortunately spilled over the character count. Remember that anything above 160 characters including spaces, punctuation, the identifier word STORY and a space simply does not show in our report meaning entries above the limit will probably not score well because they just don't make sense. We decided that Bret Allen's entry should win because it had great appeal and used some classic techniques brilliantly. Written in the first person we're introduced to who this person is and what he is like very quickly. Using a well known character like Tom Cruise excludes the need for description that might take up precious characters. Vital in a Txtlit story. The line "Works all the time." gives us a clear insight to the type of person this is, making it is easy for us to decide whether or not we want to empathise with him. The chatty style of the following sentences tell us more about this person but at the same time those few words tell us exactly was has gone on between him and his new female acquaintance. We are treated to an excellent double twist at the end. Our storyteller wakes up worse for wear and probably short of a kidney. He thought he'd truly been mistaken for a film star but instead has been played, and it was he who has mistaken somebody with sinister intentions for a  " kinky chick".  More entries like this please.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

I'm quickly ushered along a row of seats. Suddenly I'm next to Obama, the stadium full. Baffled I look at a bewildered official; "Do the sign language!"

By Paul Gledhill   

With hope, I reach out for the woman. She withdraws, fearful eyes full of betrayal. I was mistaken about her. Who is she? I turn from the mirror in shame.

By Laura Bridge   

Nurse Rogers fumbles with the fallen name tags. She hurries from the room as two new mothers are wheeled in to see their baby girls.

By Danielle Alan  


June Competition: Theme - Twisted Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

This is twisted! How could his first breath also be his last? His mother's pleading eyes met mine. I made the cut! His neck finally free from the cord.

Emma Hodges wins our June competition with this entry, the theme for which was 'Twisted'. 35 year old Emma Emma Hodges lives with her husband and two daughters aged 4 and 2 in West Malling, Kent. She works in Financial Services but confesses that her passion has always been writing which is why she is studying part time for an English Literature degree with the Open University. Emma says she doesn't get to write as much as she would like but finds that the Txtlit competitions are a great way to fit writing into a busy life. She hopes one day to have more time to write and even manage to forge a career out of it and tells us that winning the Txtlit competition has definitely spurred her on

Our twisted theme produced quite a narrow range of story plots with a large proportion relating to a warped or twisted mind. We also had few entries that made the connection to the theme through the game of Twister; whilst amusing we felt these were never really fully developed ideas. Our winning entry from Emma Hodges on the other hand is an excellent example of a well written Txtlit story. The opening sentence bluntly and immediately introduces tension. Though an exclamation rather than a question we want to learn more. What is twisted? The second sentence piles on more tension. First breath? This must be a newborn; and his last breath too? So, it' this cruel situation that is twisted. As we read on, the mother is introduced confirming some of our understanding, but no words are exchanged. Just a pleading look. "I made the cut!" What? even more tension. It's becoming unbearable... and then the reveal and we understand. A complication during childbirth that so nearly ends in tragedy, safely averted. All this, fully written and punctuated with characters to spare. Great work.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

Sirens alerted Billy and he drove away. He smiled, watching smoke rise in his rear-view mirror. His wife and daughter were now at peace.

By Danielle Allen   

I twisted and turned the door knob but it was no use. The door was locked from the outside. I turned and looked back at the fire that would engulf me.

By Sabah Babu  

Rustling leaves, my prey is close, my trap closer. Gun raised, I move left. Snap, crunch, agony. My gun falls, the bear emerges. Hunter, now the hunted.

By Robbie Orr  


May Competition: Theme - Buried Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Sparkling eyes stare at me. I'm hypnotised. She's seeing a school and loving ghosts. I let her stay buried in childhood as I cradle her wrinkled hand.

This entry from Tessa Eydman wins our May competition, the theme for which was "Buried". tessa eydmannLondoner Tessa works as a communications officer. A role she finds challenging although she feels lucky to be writing for a living. After some busy years, Tessa explains that her fiction took a back step, but, as she admits, she finds writing exciting and it it keeps her sane. Txtlit was her first step back into writing. She tells us that she has always enjoyed the stories and is fascinated how writers can squeeze a whole slice of life into just a few words. Tessa has even spent more time on one Txtlit story than she has on a two page article. Txtlit has also given Tessa another great bonus. She's been published in erotic magazines in the past, so has always used a pen name for the sake of her day job! This is the first time in years that she's been able to sign her fiction with her own name. 

We had a very positive reponse for this competition. There was clearly something about the theme of buried that inspired you all to write an entry. After nearly seven years of Txtlit we still sometimes can't explain what competition themes will promote a good response. Many of you looked for different ways to use the theme in your story. We had quite a few entries where someone had been buried alive, and like Tessa's entry we had a number of entries where the burying was more abstract. Tessa's story really managed to draw us in. We feel engaged from the outset; each sentence gives a little more away but intrigues us further at the same time. The final few words reveal that we are with an old woman lost in memories, and although it's not a plot twist like some stories we have had, there is an "Aha!" moment when we realise what is going on and everything makes sense. Uncomplicated bur effective.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

My past is buried in layers of deceit and denial; brutally pressing on my putrid soul. I remember the trains, chambers and incinerators. Victims haunt me.

By Mark A. King   

Angela smiled cruelly. She'd told her ex-husband Graham that she wanted to bury the hatchet and she had. Right in his back!

By Chad Elliot  

It took ages last time but I'd found an air pipe in the dark. He said next time he wouldn't be back for me. I've felt every inch now and there is no pipe.

By Teresa Elwell  

Her eyes shut before the story ended. 'Goodnight', I whisper as I kiss her forehead. In a sea of black, the tears flow. Silence falls. The coffin lowers.

By Emma Hodges


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