‘Random Word’ Writing Competition (with NEW WRITER* category!)

Right, here’s the competition, as promised, which is free to enter and open to all. Hurrah!

As people seemed to like the format last time, it’s another ‘random word’ story competition.

But, to give everyone a more equal chance, this time the competition will be judged in two categories:‘Open’ and ‘New Writer’.*

Please state in the header of your email if you’re a ‘New Writer’. Otherwise, I’ll assume you’re not a ‘newbie’ and include you in the Open judging.

* What do I mean by ‘New Writer’?

Well, if you’ve never had a paid article or story published in a magazine, newspaper or on-line and if you’ve never won a competition or been runner-up (regardless of whether it was published or not).

I will still count you as a ‘New Writer’ if you’ve done none of the above but you’ve written (or posted work on) a blog; had letters published in a magazine or if you’ve written for a non-profit making publication and not been paid (eg: an article for the local parish magazine or a school magazine).

If you’re in any doubt, email me or leave a comment and I’ll tell you whether you qualify as a ‘New Writer’. If you think you might be ‘borderline’ (it could happen!), then please avoid the ‘New Writer’ category, to save any tears (yours) or heartache (mine). I don’t want to see any ‘New Writers’ ‘outed’; neither do I want to have to wrestle the prize from anyone’s hot sticky hands.

Talking of prizes…..


First prize in each category (so, two winners), is a sparkling brand new copy of Iain Pattison’s excellent book, ‘Cracking The Short Story Market’, kindly donated by those lovely people at The Writers Bureau.

And, because I am feeling especially kind, there’s an additional prize for the New Writer category only. If the winner sends me one of their longer short stories (up to 2000) words, I’ll send them a critique and some pointers on where they might send the story.

And now, a little word about our sponsor. The Writers Bureau, as I’m sure many of you know, offer a range of home study/distance learning courses on writing. They’ve been going since 1989 and I’ve mentioned them before on here because they run open free monthly writing competitions and because I’m one of their (poetry) tutors!

If you want to know more about their courses and services for writers, have a look at their website or their Facebook page.

How to Enter:

Write a story (max 250 words) and email it to flashfiction12@yahoo.co.uk in the body of the email (no attachments). Your story MUST include the following 4 random words:

Reluctant; plague; magazine; sleep

You can use the words anywhere in the story (including the title), or in any way – as long as it makes sense and is ‘proper English’!

You can, in the interests of creativity, ADD to the words but you can’t take any letters off. Eg: sleeping is fine (or asleep or oversleep) and plagued is OK, but plaguing is not, because the ‘e’ drops off. As a test, ask yourself, if I did a search on Word for each of the words in your story, would they appear? If you’ve included all the letters as above, they would.

How were the words chosen? Well, I picked a book at random from the shelf – ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ – and put my finger in a page, randomly, four times. Just be grateful, dear reader, that you didn’t get ‘coffee’ 4 times because Stieg Larsson was obsessed with the stuff – as I wrote once here.

Names and email addresses will NOT be passed on to any third parties. All entries will be deleted after judging has taken place.

I will be shortlisting but the final judging will be done by another ‘person who writes’ (she doesn’t know yet, I’m going to ask her tonight) – and anonymously.


1. Send your entry in the body of the email (not as an attachment), to: flashfiction12@yahoo.co.uk – please add your name too.
2. It’s FREE to enter and open to anyone, regardless of where you live.
3. You can enter as many times as you like.
4. The winner and up to 4 runners-up, in each of the 2 categories, will be published on the blog.
5. Your entry must be your own original work and must not plagiarize. (as if I really need to say that…!)
6. Copyright remains with the writer.
7. Maximum length: 250 words (but less is OK).
8. Your story’s title is in addition to the 250 words
9. Your story must not have won or been placed in another competition.
10. Deadline for entries is midnight Tuesday 18th September 2012. The results will be announced on here 1 week later, on Tuesday 25th September 2012.

Good luck!

This entry was posted in Competitions, random word competition, Short Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to ‘Random Word’ Writing Competition (with NEW WRITER* category!)

  1. Debbie W says:

    Thanks for the competition, Helen. A great follow on from your post “Short Stories and Stuff”

    I’ve mentioned it at Writers’ News Talkback forum http://talkback.writers-online.co.uk/ as writers of all abilities meet there and I’m sure many will be interested.

    Best wishes,

  2. Jackie Sayle (Brown) says:

    Well, I’m definitely not a new writer, so that’s one hurdle overcome. I’ve been looking forward to your new competition because I do like having prompt words. I once set a writing competition that was supposed to be ongoing and done on a daily basis. It required people to write stories of varying lengths that included quite a number of prompt words, It was called ‘the crossword story’, as the prompt words were the answers to the quick crossword from my daily newspaper. We got some very interesting stories, but most of the people (non-writers) seemed to have trouble sticking to the simple rules and then got upset when they were ruled out.

  3. Eve says:

    Hello : ) I love reading your blog, I get the updates sent to my email ^.^

    I was wondering which email address I should sent my entry/ies to?

    Many thanks.

  4. Eve says:

    I am appalled at myself for typing ‘sent’ and not ‘send’. Apologies.

  5. Tracy Fells says:

    What a great competition Helen. I love these random word stories – really gets the creative juices flowing. And a lovely idea to have a new writer prize too. Right I’d better get thinking on this one…

  6. Geez … discipline to weave a story into 250, thanks for the challenge, have sent it!

  7. Pingback: Sonnet or Not Competition 2012 « Sally Jenkins – Writer

  8. Julia says:

    Great little comp. I’m trying to write in a style I wouldn’t normally do (just to make it even harder for myself!).

  9. Mine’s nearly ready for sending – think I’ll sleep on it for one more night – thanks for the comp Helen, I’ve enjoyed writing for it:-)

  10. Pingback: Am I still a New Writer? | Maurice Sketchley

  11. Carol says:

    Thanks for the competition. I was just about to enter it when I got word a few days ago that I have been successful at placing a short story…my first success! I understand that this disqualifies me from entering, so good luck to everyone else.

  12. Hmmm – I must learn to read the rules properly. After struggling and failing to come up with something I came back to check how much time I had left – and noticed the word I thought was plaque was plague. That makes a difference.

  13. Lynette Noel says:

    Helen,I know the competition is over ,but I am not seeing the winners yet. Lynette

  14. P Douglas Hammond says:

    Hello Helen.

    Are you planning to run another flash fiction competition?


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