Creative writing retreats, workshops, critiques and competitions

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Creative Writing Retreats

Up your word count and learn with great authors on residential writing retreats.


Online Creative Writing Courses

Get writing with the online courses.


Get your work read by top literary agents, win cash prizes and get published in the creative writing competitions.


Discover great new authors and read great stories with Retreat West Books.

Fire Themed Flash shortlist

May 20, 2019
Many thanks to all the writers on the longlist for your patience while we re-read the stories to decide on the shortlist. Congratulations again for being longlisted. It’s a tough decision once we get to this stage. The following stories have now been shortlisted – readings are still anonymous until I’ve chosen the winners so please don’t let us know which is your story if it appears on this list!   Fire Themed Flash shortlist A Fire in Drimnagh Diversity Each Visit Goes Like This In the Backyard Fire Hazard Searching Warm Hands The Future Will Wait We Lit Fires Yia Yia Burns Olive Leaves To Ward Off The Evil Eye Final results will be announced soon and the winning three stories will get cash prizes and published on the website. In the meantime, get writing for the June deadline with the theme of WIND. Enter your stories here. Plus, watch out for our new monthly micro comp opening soon where we want stories of just 100 words. The prompt will be posted on 3rd June and you’ll have until the 9th June to send us your stories… And, if you can write quickly on the theme of REBELLION – there are four more days to enter the free comp running on Lucy Writers Platform to win a free place on our Fantastic Flashing group online course starting on 3rd June. Get all the info here.  

2019 First Chapter Competition Winners

May 16, 2019
2019 Retreat West First Chapter Competition Winners Many thanks to Sarah Hornsley at The Bent Agency for being our 2019 judge. She has now chosen the two winners, saying: “It was a really tough decision. The standard was really high, I was very impressed.” So well done to everyone on the shortlist and massive congratulations to our two winners who get their submission package reviewed. The first place winners will get their feedback from Sarah and the second place winner from Amanda Saint, commissioning editor and publisher at Retreat West Books. Sarah has also provided short feedback on all the ten shortlisted chapters below. First place: Cold Harbour by Marian Smith Sarah said: COLD HARBOUR is smoothly written with a real sense of intrigue. Impressively, the author manages to establish where the novel sits in the market quickly, whilst also offering the reader a fresh voice and a character who I feel confident would keep the reader guessing at every turn. I was also impressed by how the author establishes the hook early on and then manages to build the intrigue as the chapter progresses, ending on a fantastic hook that left me wanting to keep turning the pages. Second place: Violet by Zoe Cook Sarah said: VIOLET demonstrates some really excellent writing with a compelling set-up, posing many questions for the reader with a smoothness and subtlety I really admired. I was also impressed by how the author manages to capture the intrigue surrounding the backstory but not at the expense of the current present plot, and I thought this showed the potential for a really layered and complex story. Well done to Marian and Zoe! And to our shortlisted writers… A Pair of Blue Butterflies by Claire Whatley Sarah said: You create a really strong interesting dynamic here between Rachel and Martin with a clear backstory that has a lot of scope to it. I’d be careful of using dialogue as a vehicle to disguise exposition and work a little more on showing not telling – less is more and often just from the action we can deduct the subtext without needing it reinforced by the narrator. Behold The Stars by Imogen Harris Sarah said: The writing here is excellent and I really enjoyed the material, you draw us right into the audition room with the narrator. I did want to get a better sense of what I was reading – what genre is it, what could I expect from the rest of the novel, but I think this is a really strong start and I’d love to read more. Caught Kissing Adam Faith by Neil Taylor Sarah said: The voice here is wonderful and I really enjoyed the subtle very natural humour peppered throughout. I was definitely interested to read more and I think you started and ended the chapter in exactly the right place, which makes me feel that you’re a really competent storyteller. My Name Is Ten by Colleen McMahon Sarah said: There is lots of really good writing here and I think the world you’ve created is