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

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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.
August 2015 Competition

For August your competition theme is "The Queue".We're sure to have writers queuing up to write a story of 154 characters or less, preceded by the STORY and then sent as a text to 82085. Cost £1

September 2015 Competition

Your September competition theme will be announced at the end of August. Make sure you come back to see what it will be and to find out who has won July'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.

November Competition: Theme - Fire Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Cold is good. The familiar feel of enduring life; as safe as dark and silence. But my foe is a fool. He invites his death with a fragile flicker of flame

Alexander Milne of Edinburgh tells us he was delighted to receive the news that won our November competition, alexander milne the theme for which was 'Fire'.  Alexander has been a runner up on several occasions, and appropriately was in the middle of editing a scene from draft 3 of his Icelandic-set novel when he got the news from us that he'd won.  He enters the Txtlit competition most months and enjoys both the challenge of creating a story within the tight confines of the character limit and thinking hard about the theme and the different ways in which it can be interpreted. One of the things he most enjoy about reading the results page is seeing how other people have interpreted the theme and how they have expressed their own ideas. He admits to often thinking, "that's brilliant, why didn't I think of that!" With his November entry Alexander was trying invert the usual association of fire with life and instead create a story where fire means death for one of the characters and where its opposites of cold and dark were in fact positives.

We think Alexander's story can be interpreted in more than one way; which in itself adds an air of intrigue. We chose to see it as the narrator being a lone sniper, perhaps during the first World War. He is obvioulsy cold, but he welcomes this as it reminds him that he is alive. He aslo extracts an air of safety from it, as he does from the cover of darkness. He also knows that he is safe as long as he remains silent. The invitation of death with the fragile flicker of flame conjurs the idea of the bad luck of "third light" of a cigarette. In the trenches, it's said that the fist light alerted the enemy to your presence, the second light enabled them to take aim and the third light was when they fired their rifle; so third light is deemed as bad luck. The story aside, we also loved the style of Alexender's writing and it's fitting that he has finally won a competition after several runner-up positions. 


Other Shortlisted Entries:

I savour my last smells: stale gunpowder & the sweat of soldiers. And my last sounds: the metallic clicks and the words "Ready. Steady. FIRE!"

By Colette Horsburgh 

She smiled and the boy felt his temperature rise. He was helpless as flames within burned, then consumed, him. But from ashes a man arose and smiled back.

By Chad Elliot

My cottage's thatch was ablaze and no one else thought about the roosting bats. Very soon now the planned extension work can resume. Who'll ever blame me?

By Dave Bourne


October Competition: Theme - Crash Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Today I can drive away and briefly leave behind the trappings of fame. Today I am as fast as the wind. I am an icon. I am indestructible. I am James Dean.

'Crash' was your theme for October's competition which was won with this entry by 43 year old Teresa Elwell Teresa Elwell from Hayle in Cornwall. Teresa currently works as an office manager and tells us that she discovered the joy of writing when she was just 4 years old. She would copy out her Enid Blyton books word for word into exercise books just to experience the pure joy of writing. Ever since Teresa has been old enough, she has written her own short stories, poetry and made rough attempts at novels. This is the first competition that she has ever entered and her story will be the first time anything she has ever written has been read by other people. Teresa thought that the 154 character format would be easy, but admits it took her a while to hone down all the extraneous material to keep within the rules, though she found it a worthwhile exercise in shaving down her writing to the bare bones. Writing a short story in miniature made her think hard about the structure of her sentences.

The interpretation in your entries of the theme 'Crash' for the October competition wasn't as diverse as we expected. With a few exceptions relating to computers, drugs and the stock market, most entries were about car or plane crashes. However, we were not disappointed. The range of storylines and plots arising from those crashes was very wide and gave us plenty to deliberate over. We went for XXX's story in the end for a number of reasons. To start with, it is a beautifully flowing piece of prose. The syllables of the words in each sentence give it rhythmic beat that makes it very easy to read, and each sentence knits with the next seamlessly. The language is uncomplicated but very upbeat and descriptive and the reader is totally immersed in the feelgood sentiment of the story, right down to the feeling of indestructibility. The first person viewpoint adds an air of confidence, as well as being an economical use of characters. Finally, most of us will know who the narrator is as soon as we read is name, and with it, we know the outcome; brilliantly connected to the theme without actually mentioning the word. A great story that can be read over and over.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

As he stepped out of his Manhattan office window, he thought of his family, now poor, and prayed they would forgive his failure, weakness and shame.

By Chad Elliott 

He arrived early to delete the file. No one need ever know. IT were there already. "Epic system fail. Whoever saved that file can kiss their job bye bye."

By Mandii Parton

A driver over the limit, racing to escape their pursuers,with no seat belts they had no chance.  A princess and her lover, two lives tragically cut short.

By Val Fish


September Competition: Theme - Crime Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

"The policeman trusted his killer," the officer said. "Yes, they did," the detective said and drew the familiar weapon from his pocket, "Too much."

September's "Crime" themed competition was won with this effort by Casey Bourne from Casey Bourne Corsham in Wiltshire. Casey is currently studying for her MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her focus is on science fiction realism but she also writes poetry, memoir and short stories. This was Casey's first time submission to Txtlit and she tels us how she struggles to recall the last time (if ever) she wrote crime fiction. She goes on to say how she loves the short form, and found that Txtlit was something to challenge that even further. Casey knew she wanted to write a conversation. but of course the 154 character limit includes speech marks making it very tight for words. She admits it took her several attempts to make sure that the short dialogue and brief actions hinted enough at the murder plot but she finally found a combination that seemed to have worked. Clearly.

Crime is one of the most popular genres for fiction, so we knew we could expect a good response for this month's competition. We weren't dissapointed with the range of ideas either, with many of you trying very hard to interpret the theme in an original way. Casey Bourne's story is more of a traditional crime story and we deceided on this as the winner because Casey manages to set the crime scene, solve the mystery, add a twist and leave the story open ended and begging for a sequal. At the outset we discover a policeman has been murdered another officer is discussing the case with his superior, a detective. Just as we have got to grips with this, the detective immediatley turns out to be the killer who is about to replicate the crime and turn it full circle. Whilst we feel that there was some room for improvement in the language that was used, we felt that the structure and idea of the story made it a worthy winner. 


Other Shortlisted Entries:

Nobody was meant to get hurt, but they got caught in the crossfire.  Poor innocent children. Our only crime was to fall in love.

By Val Fish 

A knife glinted in the moonlight. Cornered by bookcases, I screamed. "Was it Miss Scarlet, with the dagger, in the library?"

By Katharine Breeze

The NaCl had been stolen. In its place his housemate's note said "Elementary!" He shook his head. Chemistry student puns were even worse than bland food.

By Jane Cooper


August Competition: Theme - Black Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

The quiver of excitement as I sense my time is near. Release me with closed eyes. In your darkness I will be there, growing, feeding. I am your nightmare.

Well done to our August competition winner Andrew Mullet-Merrick who takes the prize with this entry. Andrew Andrew Mullet-Marrickworks as a foundry manager near his home in Brightlingsea in Essex, where he also takes care of his elderley mum. Andrew has always loved literature but only dreamt of following it as a career after failing miserably at school where he struggled with dyslexia. Last year however, he started to write a short poem and found it so enjoyable he couldn't stop. He's written a first novel and started the second, but up until now he's not considered that it would ever be good enough to publish. He tells us that thanks to winning our Txtlit competition he's changed his mind, so look out world! Well at least keep an eye out... you never know. In the mean time, Andrew will carry on with his job as a foundry manager. Let's hope Txtlit gets a mention when he makes it big.

Wow! We had an excellent response for the August Txtlit competition in terms of both volume and quality of entries. We deliberated long and hard to come up with the winner and shortlisted entries but there were many more that very nearly made it; so congratulations to everyone who entered for such a high standard all round. We decided on Andrew Mullet-Merrick's story as the winner in the end because of its excellent construction, great use of language and implied sense of sinister suspense. The "quiver of excitement" that the story opens with beautifully captures the sense of expectation that we have probably all experienced when something we relish nears. Those few moments before stepping on to a rollercoaster perhaps or the seconds before the first mouthful of our favourite food. The second sentence is perfect, not only in the words that deliver the message, but in the meter and tempo too. Andrew manages to personalise the drama of the story by referring to "your darkness", impressing upon the reader an air of violation. Use of the words "growing" and "feeding" really get under the skin and add to the menace. The reveal of the narrator being your nightmare makes sense of everything we have read thus far, and though obvious in a way, doesn't diminish the creepy feeling. A great story and well deserved winner.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

"They'll never hold," one said. "They're cheaper," said another. Now my family's incomplete. My father's tomb: a mass grave below a thousand tons of coal.

By Tim Bodicoat 

As I fall into the endless gloom of the black hole, I stare in disbelief at the safety clip in my hands. Thirty years of NASA training. One silly mistake.

By Chris Redfern

Targeted; disliked, unwanted and denied a chance. Stripped bare, singled out and callously discarded. It's awful being the bit of liquorice in the middle.

By Michaela Barry 

It was black and white: break or fail. The brick thought itself tough until it met my fist. It broke. My knuckles merely bruised; as black as my new belt.

By Alexander Milne


July Competition: Theme - Heat Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

The Greek isle lay below me now. I was so high I could kiss the sun. Suddenly there were feathers!!! In the heat of the moment I'd forgotten his warning.

Our congratulations for winning July's Txtlit competition go to Ian Richardson from Carnoustie in Scotland. Ian Rchardson60 year old Ian tells us that news of winning the July competition added an extra glow to his August holiday. He admits to being concerned that the need to strip creative writing to the bone when writing a Txtlit story may have left the reference to Icarus undetectable. Ian has invited all visitors to txtlit.co.uk to read a longer work of his. ‘The Uchronie.’ - is available free at Jukepop Serials - and has, so far, gathered over 500 votes.  Follow this link to find it http://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/105

Ian has used the now, well established technique when entering a Txtlit competition of using a well known character to partly tell the story. Here, Ian has used the character of Icarus, who escaped from imprisonment with the help of wings of wax and feathers made by his father. Interestingly, this is not the first time that Icarus has been the character of a Txtlit story and this was not the only entry for July's competition that used him as a character. It was how Ian gave us just enough clues to be able to make sense of the story that won us over however. The opening sentence gives us a location, but being high enough to kiss the sun could have a number of different meanings and so urges us to read on to discover more. The third sentence tells us so much in just a few words and changes the mood dramatically. Now we are beginning to understand who we are talking about and what is happening and finally all is confirmed when we realise that our character is Icarus and has forgotten his father's warning not to fly too close to the sun as the heat would melt the wax in his wings. The use of the word 'heat' in the final sentence in a different connotation to the storyline also adds an extra dimension. NB. In awarding this entry the win, we chose to forgive the excessive use of screamers; "!!!".


(PS. We received an e-mail from a Txtlit fan who informs us that the use of the three exclamation marks are synonymous with the symbol for The Prince of Wales feathers. A nuance of Ian Richardson's story we clearly missed and about whch we are delighted to be educated.)


Other Shortlisted Entries:

Her flesh began to burn as the radiation penetrated her skin. Her body lay naked and abused; a victim of her own addiction. What a price to pay for a tan!

By Emma Hodges

I broke into my son's room, but he was gone. The fit had left just a twisted corpse, a thing bereft of fear and joy but for life's heat fading from flesh.

By Alexander Milne


Polyester catches so quickly. I felt the heat of it as I backed into the shadows. The door opened and I heard him swearing as he ran over. This was fun.

By Siobhan Kielty 


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