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

Example Story
She denied stealing the shoes, though witnesses had seen her attempt to secrete the red, shiny stilettos. A victim of fashion, the evidence was patent.
 
July 2014 Competition

Your July theme is Mistaken Identity. Who is mistaken and what are the consequences? Write a story in 154 characters or less, precede it with the word STORY and a space and text it to 82085

August 2014 Competition

We'll reveal the competition theme for August at the end of July. Come back to find out what it will be and to see the results for June. In the meantime, get writing your entries for July.

 

 

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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.



January 2014 Competition: Theme - Hello Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

He was so frail; less than a shadow. The wasted years hung between us like broken promises. This hello was more painful than any goodbye I had ever known.


Our first competition of 2014 is won with this entry from Alison V King of Cardiff.  Twenty-eight yearAlison V King old Alison has been writing for as long as she can remember. After discovering Txtlit.co.uk in December she was really proud to be a runner up with her first attempt. She goes on to tell us how Micro-fiction fascinates her and whilst a lot of people dismiss it, she admits that it's actually very difficult to tell a complete story in so few characters. "You want a beginning, a middle and an end, you want your reader to be emotionally invested, you want characters people will care about and you want every word to matter." Well put Alison! Despite the frustration it brings, Alison finds herself constantly compelled to try.


The theme for January's competition was 'Hello', and whilst the meaning of the word was applied similalry amonst the vast majority of entries, we saw a good range of diversity in the plots and storylines. Alison's story idea wasn't unique; quite a few of you used the idea of a reunion as the basis of your story, where perhaps "hello" doesn't seem to be the most appropriate greeting. However we felt Alison's story conjured the most emotion and excercised the best use of language. The introductory phrase speaks volumes and immediatey draws us in to discover more. "less than a shadow" is so thoroughly descriptive of both the subject's physical condition and his persona. The middle sentence, referencing the wasted years tells us just enough to undertsand the situation and Alison uses a technique we have seen before in Txtlit stories where the description, here 'like broken promises', is used to double effect. To illustrate the situation and tell the story. We can deduce that the narrator is trying to reconcile with his or her father, who, now near death, has never fulfilled his role. Finally, we understand the tension as the meeting is compared to a parting, something we naturally expect to be emotionally charged and also tinged with sadness. The comparison of something totally opposite adds to the gravity. A great story.

 

Other Shortlisted Entries:


She smoothed the black dress over her hips, auburn hair gleaming, red nails and lips. Time to celebrate the transition. Goodbye to John, hello to Jocelyn.

By Rosemary Gemmel of Langbank, Scotland 


Lying in the road, used and thrown away. Lucy would never know what that first shy 'Hello' through a strange car window had cost her.

By Danielle Allen


She stares out at me from the screen, daring me. I hate this online dating thing. It's degrading. Yet my fingers type of their own accord. "Hello..."

By Jess Dixon 



 

 
December Competition: Theme - Don't look down Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Leave it. Turn away, up here away from the chaos; away from the hurt. Take my hand; come on, you can do it. There, you're safe now. Safe in heaven.


The December 2013 competition was won with this entry by previous runner-up Michaela Barry from Michaela BarryBurnley in Lancashire. Michaela first discovered Txtlit early last year and particularly likes the concept as it "really makes you think!" She has entered the competitions a handful of times and been short listed twice but was understandably delighted to hear of her first win. Michaela has always loved writing but, with the exception of a small number of short stories, this has always been informal. Now she is spurred on to do more and to work on developing her style. Michaela admints that this interpretation was a little out of the ordinary for her as she usually leans more towards humour. Well, we're not complaining.

 
When we set the December competition theme we thought that we were being quite prescriptive and that the theme of "Don't look down" would limit the range of the stories we received. We couldn't have been more wrong. December competitions historically receive fewer entries, but despite following this trend, the diversity of stories and plots was exceptional. We decided upon Michaela Barry's entry as the winner for a number of reasons. The story itself builds beautifully; the narrator clearly encouraging somebody to leave something behind and this encouragement seems to crescendo until safety is reached. The story is neatly punctuated too with excellent use of full stops, commas and semi-colons to create a tempo and beat that makes it easy to read. Then there's the story itself. We, or someone, is being told to leave behind something or somewhere. This begins as a command, but then quickly turns to persuasion as what is being left behind is simply chaos and hurt. The "Take my hand" line feeds us a feeling of security, although at this stage we are still unsure if the person doing the encouraging is to be trusted. The reveal tells us we have died and gone to heaven. Whilst there is a feeling of relief that we are safe, this is mixed with the knowledge that to get here we have died. Finally, as we reflect on the whole story, we can see the subtle connection to the competition theme, tingeing it all with a little sadness.

 

Other Shortlisted Entries:


Ruthlessly he climbed the ladder of success. It was only in nightmares that he saw the faces of colleagues he'd stepped on and the girl he'd left behind.

By Chad Elliot 


Green creeps up my leg. I don't look but I feel the change. Skin to stem, blood to water, lash to leaf. Tears won't save me. My name fades to a whisper.

By Alison V King


"You're wrong, Officer. Zak couldn't have been involved - he's been in his room all night." Zak nodded, hoping they wouldn't notice the ash on his shoes.

By Chloe Banks


And one that will stir memories for many...

'The first time's the worst' she encouraged 'just don't look down! Nose in the air-you'll be fine.' 'Ok,' he gasped and bent to change the poopy nappy.

By Aileen Shirra


 

 
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.
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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



 

 
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