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

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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.
 
February 2015 Competition

February's competition theme is Last Chance. To enter, text the word STORY &  space and then your last chance story of 154 characters or less (giving 160 total) to 82085.

March 2015 Competition

We'll announce March's competition theme at the end of February. Come back to see what it will be and to check out the results for 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.

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February 2012 Competition: Theme - Taken Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

He rolled over, lit a cigarette. I smiled awkwardly, staggered to the bathroom. I muttered sadly at my dishevelled reflection. "Huh. Not what I expected."



Congratulations to Jen Lawson from Oxford who wins our February Txtlit competition. Jen works Jen Lawsonat a mental health hospital in research and development, where she co-ordinates clinical trials of potential new medications for depression, schizophrenia and other mental health problems. She is also studying MSc Cognitive Neuroscience, part time at Oxford Brookes. When she's not doing all of that however, she is an avid reader of as many genres as she can get her hands on. Jen used to love writing stories as a child, but fell out of the habit as she got older, possibly lacking confidence in her own writing ability. Instead she prefered to offer constructive advice to friends who had the confidence, discipline and drive to do some serious writing. She tells us that winning the Txtlit competition has given her an enormous confidence boost and shell definitely try and spend some time writing short stories and seeing where she can go from there.

 

'Taken' was the theme for the February competition and we were absolutely overwhelmed by the diversity of the entries. You all really put your imaginations to work and came up with a great range of stories, some with more tenuous links to the theme than others, but all of great quality. The diversity of interpretations is noticeable in the runners up. The number of entries was also exceptionally high; clearly we’ll have to come up with more themes like this one as it certainly seemed to get you all motivated. We eventually chose this entry by Jen Lawson as the winner because it coupled an original take on the theme with many many classic elements, not least the fact the theme isn't actually mentioned. With a little thought however, we are able to work out the link. The reveal at the end is brilliantly timed, and being delivered in dialogue, adds to the poignancy. Some nice use of cliché too as in the lighting of the cigarette, although the relevance is nicely kept unclear until the final reveal. Good job!


Other Shortlisted Entries:


He was the most gorgeous man I'd ever seen. Such style peering back at me through the cafe window. Forget traditionalism. "Excuse me, is this seat taken?"

By Claire Logan  


Her babies were gone. She tore her home apart, her brown body fat and trembling. Gone. Indoors, I removed a brown feather and cracked an egg into the pan.

By Lorna Wilkinson 


He fell, screaming. The man in black gave his verdict. The crowd fell silent, watching the executioner take his place. The penalty was taken. One-nil!

By Susanna Lewis 

 

My empty stomach; no kicks, so still. The pram with sleeping baby waiting outside the chip shop. I had to do it. Sssh little angel, Mummy's here now.

By Laura Huntley 

 



 

 
January Competition: Theme - Safe at Last Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Through monsoons and hurricanes, the chosen ones bore their cherished charge until, safe at last, it flared in the cauldron. The 2012 Olympics were born.



Congratulations to Aileen Shirra of Cumbernauld, who wins or first competition of 2012. Aileen works asAileenshirra 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 has always had an interest in writing and has been exploring various means of encouraging her learners to engage with writing and enjoy it, which in turn helps them to overcome their fear of writing and see it as a potentially enjoyable pastime. Several of them have taken part in competitions and really enjoy the challenge and this helps to make functional writing less threatening. Aileen tells us she has a particular love of writing poetry, in particular humorous children's poetry.

 

Safe at Last was your theme for January and although this was reasonably prescriptive, we were very pleased with the range of stories that we received. More than a few of you opted for the play on words with a confused burglar finally finding the physical safe. In choosing the winner it's probably fair to say that we were a little influenced by the timely subject matter, with the London Olympics due to commence later this year, but it was a solid construction and twisted ending the truly won us over. A little embellishment exists as we're told of travelling through monsoons and hurricanes but we particularly like the use of language to draw us in, such as the 'chosen ones' and the 'cherished charge'. Indeed, ensuring the Olympic Flame reaches its destination is a concern for many and we can almost feel relief as the cauldron is lit. Cleverly, there is no actual mention of the flame although we know it is what the story is about immediately we read the final sentence.


Other Shortlisted Entries:


It was a beacon of light after the dark uncertainty of the wood. They were safe. Walking towards the cottage Hanzel took his sister's hand.

By Laura Kenny  


The Mayans were right and the world ended in 2012. The human race was made extinct. Mother Nature sighed, "Ah, safe at last."

By Jonathan Hall  


She heard his footsteps and shouting. With one last look, she stepped off the ledge. Safe at last.

By Sue Mitchell  

 



 

 
December Competition: Theme - Seasons Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

She lay still felled by the fatal blow. Rusty leaves covered her, then a shroud of snow. Spring speeded her decay but her acorn sprouted by Midsummer Day.



Well done Clare Marsh, winner of the December 2011 Txtlit competition. Clare lives in Kent whereClare Marsh she prepares reports for a living. She started creative writing two years ago and is now completely addicted. She has since studied with the Open University and attends the Tonbridge Writers’ Circle.  Recently Clare had a piece published in a national anthology of memoirs written by WI members: ‘Crocodiles, Cakes and the Queen’s Petticoats’. Clare admits that her entry started out as a story and then began to rhyme, giving it a poetic angle. She doesn't ‘do’ poetry but sometimes a piece of writing just takes on a life of its own.

 

December's theme was "seasons" and we gave you the option to tell a story that involved one, some or all of the four seasons. So, plenty of scope which led to some very interesting entries. We chose Clare Marsh's story as the winner because, despite the limitations of a Txtlit story, this really has the feeling of a much bigger tale. There is some excellent use of language and the description of 'rusty leaves' to describe the effects of autumn and the 'shroud of snow' for winter enables the reader to conjure up a very vivid image. Let's also not overlook the classic story construction that treats us to a twist at the end. By describing the tree as 'she' at the outset we are drawn to believe that the story is about a person, but when we learn of the acorn in the final few words we are hit with the realisation that we are reading the fate of an oak tree. You will also note that Clare has cleverly crafted her story to rhyme, however please note that as this was not a poetry competition the judging was not influenced by this at all. Ignoring the rhyming, this was still a clear winner.


Other Shortlisted Entries:


Summer passed.  As the longer nights crept in, so too did death in their shadow. The table was laid, his place was set. No-one would ask his name.

By Juliet Thorne  


The snowman under the tree knows daffodils are a death sentence. His stone eyes drip at the thought of never seeing summer.

By David Salisbury  


I hate winter. Simply because of that Christmas madness I get pulled into. Call me a miser, but I'm not doing it again...if I can talk Mrs Claus round!

By Delphine Richards of Dryslwyn, Carmarthen 

 



 

 
November Competition: Theme - Luck Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

As the last ball appeared, Jim couldn't believe his luck. £6.2 million? If only he'd bought the damn syndicate ticket. He winced as the phone rang.



November winner Andrew Clarke was a little late sending us his details but his photo shows us the reason why. Andrew Clarke with HeidiHis daughter Heidi was born shortly before Christmas, so he clearly had his hands full with more pressing issues. With a busy job and now a second child filling his time, (Heidi has a 16 month old brother) Andrew finds himself drawn mostly to reading and writing short stories. He has written a few stories over the last 10 years but had never previously had the confidence to enter any competitions or try to get published. Apart from being a great challenge Andrew finds Txtlit is something you can do in any spare minute you have,like sitting on the bus. Andrew's win here might just spur him on to have a proper go again in 2012.

 

We had lower than average entries for November but that didn't effect the standard and we were treated to some excellent micro stories. With the theme of Luck, storylines were pretty evenly split between good luck and bad luck. A few tried to combine good and bad luck but we think our winner did the best job of this. We are immediatley able to grasp that the situation is about a lottery draw and we are led to believe that Jim has just landed himself a big win. Then we realise that in fact this is a stroke of bad luck for Jim as he has failed to buy his syndicate's ticket. Where others may have finished the story here, we are given a final line that leads us to contemplate the consequences of Jim's misdemeanour, wether it be deliberate or a mistake. We were wincing as much as Jim is when he hears the phone ring.


Other Shortlisted Entries:


He watched the women walking by and tossed a coin. "Heads. Lucky." He tossed the coin again. "Tails." He followed the next  woman. "Not your lucky day."

By Andy Brown of East Lothian 


The wishbone wedged in her windpipe. She gagged, tears trickling, as they slid the stretcher into the ambulance. She was comatose when the collision came.

By Katie Gelbart  


The balls roll in: 12 11 52, 07 04 55. The day we met, the day we married. It means nothing without you, love. I'll donate the lot to cancer research.

By Catriona Mackay from London

 



 

 
October Competition: Theme - Empty Print E-mail

Winning Entry:

Today I shall conquer my enemy. The cursor blinks mockingly as time passes quickly by. Still the page remains empty. Procrastination defeats me again.



October's competition has been won by Andrea Hayward of Bury St Edmunds. This is the second win from Andrea HaywardAndrea who has also had a number of runner up places. Andrea has had a career change since her last Txtlit win and has been busy setting up her own business as a freelance beauty therapist, meaning she's unfortunately not been able to spend much time writing. However, she tells us that she is delighted to have won a second time it's iven her the boost she needed to make her determined that that empty page will be a thing of the past. Clearly the ease of the Txtlit competition format has played its part in re-igniting Andrea's interest in writing.

 

We felt that the theme of 'Empty' would give you all plenty of scope for your creativity, and we were certainly impressed by the diversity of the entries for October. One or two ideas were favoured by a number of you, in particular 'empty promises', but otherwise we were treated to a wide range of plots. We liked Andrea Hayward's story because, as writers, we can all relate to the foreboding of an empty page (Or empty mobile phone screen for Txtlit writers). By setting out with a declaration to 'conquer my enemy' we are drawn in and want to learn more about who this potential hero is. Quickly we understand the scenario and by the third sentence we can almost sense the depression. Finally our enemy, procrastination, is the victor, and the fact that it is not the first time it has triumphed adds to the despair we now share with the writer. Nicely done and an excellent tempo.


Other Shortlisted Entries:


Vainly she hurriedly closed the box, but it was almost empty. It left her only hope to cling to, for all else was gone. Bowing her head, Pandora wept.

By Loretta Hegarty 


Edith saw the man blush as she shook his hand and felt her faith in human nature restored. It was only later she realised her purse was already empty...

By Lynne Arnot of Edingburgh 


In the darkness I probed the empty pack. 'No smokes?' asked Tommy, lighting his own. CRACK! Sniper! 'May as well have yours' I said, closing his eyes.

ByLesley Shaw

 



 

 
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