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.
October 2015 Competition

The Discovery is your October theme. Write a story to this theme in just 154 characters which should be preceded by the word STORY and a space and then text to 82085. Cost £1+ 1 network text.

November 2015 Competition

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

March 2015: Theme - Crime Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

I watch them throw away good food, feeling anger at this crime against the world's starving. I am shamed and labelled thief for taking it from the bin.

Our March competition was won with this entry from Ian Johnston of Manchester. With the theme of crime, Ian JohnstonIan tells us that he mulled over the theme of crime as he was turning over his allotment, "like a proper Northerner". Pondering on how everyone should have access to some growing space his thoughts led him the imbalance of basic needs on our shared planet. Ian enters various short story competitions and is building up to longer writings, although he managed to complete NaNoWrimo last November which he describes as a marathon for him but most enjoyable. Ian enjoys Txtlit as he finds the restrictive nature teaches editing skills and brevity.

Writing a really good Txtlit story is tough. We make it even harder by running competitions which mean you are up against other writers in order to win recognition, and of course £50. Our March competition was made more difficult still by using a popular genre like crime, which we have used more than once previously, and asking you to be original whilst maintaining a clear link to the theme. Although we had a good response in terms of numbers of entries, for many, either the link to the theme was too tenuous or entries over-ran the character limit. The winning entry from Ian Johnston  however ticks all the boxes. Our protagonist sees good food being discarded and is incensed that this is happening when so many people in the world are starving. In his eyes such wastefulness is a crime and there is the link to the theme. However, for retrieving the food from the bin he is accused of theft and, unjust as it seems, here is where the real crime is committed. We don't know for sure but assume that the food is taken for his own consumption and he counts himself in the number of the world's starving. This makes his labelling of thief even more unjust.


Just one shortlisted entry this month:

DC Kay picked up the last evidence from the scene, put it in a bag, then his pocket. Getting home he threw it in the bin; then let out a sigh of relief!

By Paul Gledhill 

February 2015: Theme - Last Chance Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

The money had run out: they had no more to sell. Another failure meant the end of the road. Anxiously, they waited. Finally: a heartbeat. Success.

This entry from Clare Suter wins or February competition, the theme for which was "Last Chance". Clare Clare Suter moved from London to Norfolk recently and admits that the thrill of overtaking tractors hasn't worn off yet. Clare has always loved writing, perticularly non fiction. Her favourite book is We Need To Talk About Kevin. Although she thinks it a bit of a strange choice, she loves the fact it really makes you think and almost blurs the lines between fiction and reality. Clare also enjoys trying new writing challenges - for example ghost writing or writing for a particular audience too. However Clare doesn't get much time to write at the moment as a result of running around after her cheeky toddler, hence why Txtlit is ideal for her.

Despite the potential for a lot of similarly themed stories, we had some excellent and diverse entries for this competition. Clearly the theme of Last Chance got your creative juices flowing and you really looked outside the box for what the last chance would relate to in your stories. This story from Clare Suter was selected as winner because of some excellent construction and timing. Knowing what the theme is, the opening line tells us that that the last chance in this case is related to money, which is exhausted. We are taken further still, there is nothing left to sell so we really have reached desperation. Still the tension builds. Another failure. Failure at or of what? The end of the road. Are we talking about a life or death situation? More tension as our protagonists wait anxiously and for the first time we know we are talking about two people; a couple. Finally the reveal. There is a heartbeat and we understand, after a moment's reflection, that this is the heartbeat of a child in the womb and this was the last chance to concieve via IVF for a childless couple. Clare chooses not to add an exclamation mark to the final word success, maybe because it depicts relief rather than excitement. A great story touchingly written.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

Shrunken. Frail. Wasting. Could he hear me? Did he know I was there? I had 8 years of words to say; not enough time. Only four mattered, "I love you dad."

By Lucy Brighton 

Behind the bars I'd heard them say this was my last chance. But now I feel the strap clip around my neck, my heart leaps. Today I run in the park again.

Awaiting Author's details 

Billionaire Edward Chance dies age 92 leaving no heirs to his fortune.  Ted clasped his birth certificate and grinned. Wrong!  There is one last Chance!

By Valerie Griffin 


And a clever one that made us smile...

I panic. Mere seconds left and no second chance. Devoid of inspiration; what to write? An idea hits me and I start to text 82805 and type "STORY I panic."

By Judgement Dave


January 2015 Competition: Theme - Broken Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

The spell was well and truly broken, the truth revealed and the handsome prince she'd been kissing all these years exposed for the frog he really is.

Our first competition for 2015 is won by Aileen Shirra. This is the second win for Txtlit regular Aileen, Aileen Shirra who lives in central Scotland and works as a literacies development worker within a community learning and development team where she supports adults in developing their basic skills. Especially reading and writing. Aileen enjoys reading and all forms of writing, especially poetry and has had some of her work published. Her first collection ‘The Tumbrel of Time’ was published in 2013 by Thynks Publications and her first children’s collection will be published later this year. Aileen tells us that she finds Txtlit a lot of fun and that taking part can be done in any spare moment, which is great for busy people like her.

We gave you "broken" as the theme for the January competition and it resulted in some very deep  and dark entries. Stories about broken hearts featured highly and we also had a number of entries that were based upon breaking in a horse. All acceptable of course. We decided upon Aileen's story as the winner because we thought that the use of metaphor was an intriguing way to tell much of the story. We have often commented in the past how, when writing a story as restricted in length as a Txtlit story, much can be told through using a known character or event that does much of the telling in itself. Aileen has taken this a step further by using the story of the frog that turns into a prince. She has cleverly twisted it however and we can see that our main character has had a realisation that the man who she looked upon as her prince was nothing more than a lowly frog. Perhaps he had been unfaithful or had shown himself to be some rogue or other undesirable character. The breaking of the spell which is the illusion that our protagonist had been living under for years and which had kept her enchanted ties the whole story up into something that can possibly be described as an anti-fairytale. Clever.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

When the flood came they prayed he had broken out safely. Soon they glimpsed him. The fresh air tingled in his nose. Their newborn baby bawled.

By Josephine Eaton  

My resolve breaks when I see you. I promised myself last night that I'd end this poisonous thing but then you say the words I crave and my soul is yours.

By Rachel Williams 

Well - hadn't he promised her that was the last time ever? She grimaced as she pushed him off the cliff. A promise was a promise. She had kept hers.

By Patricia Cooney 


And we liked this one...

'Damn, it's not turning on.' Jenny shakes her phone, praying for some sign of life. 'How am I going to send off my January txtlit entries now?'

By Danielle Allen


December Competition: Theme - Best Friends Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

I wait to sink into nothingness. I cannot betray him, it wasn't me but I have to take a bullet for him. Blood brothers in life and death.

Jeffrey Rowlands wins December's competition with this entry, and he also makes the runners up list with Jeffrey Rowlands a second entry.  This is Jeffrey's second win. His first came nearly 2 years ago. Jeffrey tells us he was surprised but pleased to hear that he had won the Txltit competiton for December. Since winning in 2013 he has been concentrating on shorter, short stories and he's hoping this is a sign of improvement that has certainly given him encouragement.

"Best Friends" was your competition theme for December and we had a good range of interesting entries. We were quite surprised however that many of you chose to use the concept of a best friendship ending as the premise for your stories. Not that there is anything wrong with that in particular, but perhaps the dark winter nights have influenced you to think in a more negative way. It could be said that the winning entry from Jeff Rowlands has an edge of darkness to it, with death playing a major part. The opening sentence sets a dark scene. We are clearly set to anticipate something bad and Jeff makes great use of character count here, saying so much in just a few words. Use of the first person saves more characters and keeps the story in the present, adding tension. As we read on, we learn that our protagonist is in quite a dilemma. He's not to blame for whatever has put him there but he is unable to betray "him". Blood brothers describes a deep friendship and this is one so strong it has endured the ultimate sacrifice.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

We held each other up. The one I relied on. Arm round my shoulder, a warm flush, my vision swam. Slurring, she cried, "Drinks! What you having, bezzie?"

By Emma Kirkby 

I never thought I would commit murder, but you were asking for it. I have no regret, no remorse. I would do it again. My best friend, now free from pain.

By Karen Francis 

My heart is warmed by you. My body sings, delights at your touch. Looking at your oh so familiar label, I know that we'll be together until the end.

Also by Jeff Rowlands  


November Competition: Theme - The Source Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Docs say it's a blood disorder; a virus from the Carpathians. Asleep all day, awake at night. Did I fall and chip a tooth? Its sharp edge catches my lip.

Our November competition theme was "The Source" and Rob Martin wins for the second time with this entry. Rob Martin Since winning Txtlit in November 2012, Rob has changed professions and now works for the pharmacy department in a local hospital in Plymouth. The kid's novel that he was working on two years ago is finally finished and undergoing some polishing in order to get agents and publishers to read it. Rob has a new novel starting to take shape too, although he admits he needs to work on his procrastination problem! Rob tells us how he really enjoyed this month's competition, and looked deep for an interesting take on  the theme of "the source." After writing elaborate prose in his novel for so long, he found that writing evocatively with so few words was a great challenge.

We received quite a low number of entries for our November competition. Either you were all busy Christmas shopping, or you weren't inspired enough by the theme of "The Source". Quite a high proportion of entries deliberately confused the word source with sauce as the premise behind their stories, and the best example of this can be seen in the runners up entries. Rob Martin, however clearly found inspiration for his winning entry. To fully understand the story, you have to know who the Carpathians were, or are.  A quick internet search will lead you to descriptions of a fictional race who survive by drinking the blood of humans. Our protagonist is unwell and has consulted doctors; the source of his illness is a virus of Carpathian origin. The virus makes him sleep all day and keeps him awake at night. And why has his tooth developed a sharp edge upon which he catches his lip? If you don't get it, we won't spoil it for you. Having to do your own research about the Carpathians treat you with an aha! moment to embellish the pleasure from this most subtle of Txtlit stories. Excellent work Rob, a real masterclass in subtlety.


Other Shortlisted Entries:

The shiny gaze of money, hypnotizing all who look at it, is in truth, as much the source of evil as good. Like a gun it depends who is holding it?

By Julie-Ann Dunbar 

Miles Danish, owner and editor of The Source magazine, has announced that he and his staff are baffled as to where the allegations have come from.

By Valerie Griffin  

As the Research Centre fell and the pandemic claimed its final victims, Ned looked at his stockpile of PiriPiri and realised his damning misunderstanding.

By Dave Harris  


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