Micro Fiction Course Competition Shortlist

Many thanks to all that entered the competition to win a place on our Micro Fiction Month online course, which is focused on generating new work and gives you lots of ideas for different ways to find, and write, stories.

We’re still reading anonymously at this stage so if your story is listed below please don’t announce which one it is!

The shortlisted stories are:

  • Dark and Light
  • Ghost Blocker
  • Hide and Seek
  • I Hate You: I Miss You
  • Obstinate Remnants
  • Paleantology
  • Pteridomania
  • Self-Sufficient
  • Symmetry in Two Halves
  • The Quickening
  • The Risks of Reading
  • The Too Much Shade
  • When the Father We Shared Left Us

We’ll be announcing the winners in September. Good luck for the next round!

Micro fiction competition: August winners

Thank you to everyone who entered this month’s Micro Fiction Competition — and huge congratulations to our two winners! First place takes home £111, and second place wins £76. Both winning stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website, too.

Winner: Longitudinal by Jordan Harrison-Twist

Jordan Harrison-Twist is a writer and editor based in Manchester, UK. His essays have appeared in 3:AM Magazine, The Double Negative, iiii Magazine, and Corridor8. He has been twice longlisted in Retreat West’s micro fiction competition, and once longlisted in the Reflex Press flash fiction competition. His story, Plethora, will appear in an anthology published by Comma Press later this year.

Second place: A Serious Threat to Life by Denny Jace

Denny Jace has been writing since June 2019. She writes Flash Fiction and Short Stories and is building up to her first novel. She lives in Shropshire with her husband and two (grown up) children. Most of her days are spent reading her stories to Maude and Stanley, her two faithful dogs.

Her stories have been highly commended, Winner of Retreat West Micro Flash Fiction 2020, runner up in Lightbox Originals and published in Ellipsis Zine, Capsule Stories and Cabinet of Heed.

Twitter: @dennyjace

Writing a story for audio recording

We’re delighted to welcome actor and voice artist, Holly Joyce, to the blog today with her advice on what makes a story work well for a professional audio recording. Holly is providing the first place prize in our new 1000-Word Story competition – an audio recording of the winning story.


Narrating any well written story is a treat for an actor. It gives us a rare opportunity to bring to life an endless range of characters and voices regardless of our age and appearance – from mythical beasts to modern mums, from historical heroes to horses and hippos!

There are various elements of a writer’s work that can make it more enjoyable to record, and easier for the actor to bring the story to life in a recording, while doing justice to the words written on the page. For example, reading flowing passages of descriptive text where the writer uses vibrant poetic language, creating strong and colourful imagery can be particularly rewarding. 

Possibly the most the important factor in creating a story that is ideal for audio recording is to make sure it is written with a clearly identifiable voice. 

Stories written in the first person are great! But even those written in the third person are a thrill to narrate if it’s clear whose point of view the story is being told from. If a story is well written then the main character’s unique traits, background, tastes, age, etc. will jump off the page and into the actor’s mouth without the need for exposition or explanation.

There is also great joy to be found in voicing the secondary characters in the story not just as the actor perceives them but as the protagonist perceives them, with their thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards the secondary character influencing how I might instinctively choose to play and voice them.

Amanda Saint’s short story, Six O Clock Watch, which I recorded at the start of Lockdown, is a great example of this. The narrative and the information within the story itself tell us all we need to know about the protagonist – she is an older woman with a feisty attitude who has clear opinions about the people in her life.  Her spoken memories reveal a lot about her past and how that’s shaped her. You can listen to this story here.

I’m really looking forward to recording the winning short story. Good luck! 


Many thanks Holly for this great advice.

Get all the info on the competition and see the photo prompt here.

Micro Fiction Competition: July Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered this month’s Micro Fiction Competition — and massive congratulations to our two winners! First place takes home £157, and second place wins £104. Both winning stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website, too.

Winner: Lest We Perish, by Kathryn Alridge-Morris

Kathryn Aldridge-Morris is a freelance writer in the field of educational publishing. Her creative writing appears in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2020, the Bath Flash Fiction anthology (TBP 2020), Retreat West, Paris Lit Up, and the anthology ‘From Syria with Love’ (Indie Books).


Second place: Flesh and Blood, by Lyndsay Croal

Lyndsey is a Scottish writer living in Edinburgh. She received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for 2020 and is working on her debut SFF novel. She enjoys writing speculative short fiction, and has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies. Find her on Twitter as @writerlynds or via her website www.lyndseycroal.co.uk.


Head over to our Flash Fiction section to read their pieces.

The next themed flash deadline is 9th August; you can find all the info on this year’s comps and judges here.

May 2020 Micro Fiction: Results

The results are in for May’s Micro Fiction Competition… Thank you to everyone who entered and voted; this month, we received a total of 414 votes!

Winner: 17 Albert Street by Kathryn Aldridge-Morris

Kathryn Aldridge-Morris is a freelance writer in the field of educational publishing. Her creative writing appears in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2020, the Bath Flash Fiction anthology (TBP 2020), Retreat West, Paris Lit Up, and the anthology ‘From Syria with Love’ (Indie Books).

Kathryn shared: ‘I’d like to dedicate my win to my lovely mum who died on Sunday, and will be donating the prize money to a cancer charity in her memory.’ What a wonderful idea; we’re thinking of you and your family, Kathryn.

Second place: Walls by Amy O’Neil

Amy O’Neil is an emerging writer living in Brighton with her partner and two children, currently working on her first novel. Her stories have been shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize, highly commended in Glimmer Train’s Family Matters competition, recommended in LISP flash fiction competition, won Curtis Brown’s #WriteCBC flash competition, and shortlisted for Retreat West’s ‘Fire’ themed competition and won Mslexia’s Little Ms microfiction competition.
Congratulations to our winners!
Head over to our Flash Fiction section to read their pieces. Plus: next month’s Micro Fiction Competition launches on 1st June, so head over to our Competitions page then to get involved.

May 2020 Micro Fiction: shortlist

We received so many great stories this month, so well done to everyone whose story was longlisted. And an extra congratulations to you if you made the final ten!

Thanks to Emma Finlayson-Palmer, Amy Barnes and Joanna Campbell for helping to read and choose the lists – as ever, it wasn’t easy to narrow the longlist

We received 125 entries, so this month’s cash prize is £250 plus a free entry to the annual Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize. The runner-up will get a free entry too, plus both stories will be published in the Flash Fiction section of our website.

Voting is anonymous, so please don’t tell anyone what your story is called.

Voting is now open until 23:59 on Monday 25th May.

Enjoy these great micro fiction stories and then vote for your favourite in the poll at the end of the post.

His Guardian Angel

He doesn’t notice when I show him fresh lemons; altocumulus clouds like ploughed fields; dew on cobwebs. This is my last resort. 

We find the fortune-teller’s door: Knock Loudly And Wait, it demands.

Tea-leaf spider-legs dot her cup as he tells her of his misfortune.

‘Then you must make your own luck,’ we answer, in unison.

But he shakes his head – determined, I think, to ignore dandelions; resilient mint tufts between stones.

I can do no more. She rings her bell and I am lifted, soaring away – swooping into altocumulus, across ploughed fields – to take my own advice.

If Opportunity Knocks

Marjorie had intended to put it all behind her when she moved to the village; she knew she wasn’t getting any younger, but there was something in the way the window cleaner had looked at her that first week, and it did provide her with a bit extra, something for a few treats like a decent bottle of gin.

She’d put the note in the porch after the unfortunate misunderstanding with the vicar; it gave her time to check from the bedroom window. She did wonder afterwards though whether she hadn’t seen a small flicker of disappointment cross his face.

Couples Counselling

I’m standing at our back door reading the hastily penned note. The curtains to our living room twitch. They are dark and geometric, symbolic of our mood after that day shopping for them. Symbolic of our marriage pre-lockdown.

We are already socially distant; already separated.

As per his text message, I place my deckchair facing the window. This week it’s my turn. This week it’s all about my needs.

A frisson of excitement bubbles in my gut, old forgotten sensations simmer. He always was a good dancer.

I knock loudly and wait.

Oh God, I hope he wears the Stetson.

17 Albert Street

I used to imagine revenge tasting like a Zoom lolly. Or the icing peeled off a bun in one go. Like a big plaster. But it doesn’t. It tastes of gum chewed too long and gone hard.

Knock and wait. My arms want to stretch out. Straight. Where he can see them. But I’ve learnt habits can break just as easy as bones.

He opens the door. I see the belt, restrained in denim loops, his ring binder knuckles, the blood in my eyes, the grain of his desk.

‘Volunteer buddy,’ I smile. He hesitates, steps back.

Lets me in.

Sterile

Bobby Raven tattoos people in the basement of his house. Gemma knocks and waits. It’s dodgy as hell but he’s cheap and she’s heard good things, like how he doesn’t speak much.

There isn’t a part of him that isn’t inked and as he hands her the binder, she’s drawn to a tattoo on his wrist. Tiny cherub wings.

‘Those. Right here,’ she says, showing him her bare palm. This way she’ll get to hold what she cannot have.

He blinks slowly and takes her hand, as if he understands, as if her story is already written on her skin.

Knock Loudly And Wait

We marry in 1979, the week ‘Ring My Bell’ tops the radio and lifts the discotheque. It’s all shimmer and flashing lights at first. Even when I bake the bird dry, there is always something fresh between us – the pop of a cork.

The fizzle.

Two kids and three stone later, I check your collars for cliches; find a number in your pocket.

‘Repairman,’ you say. Dishwasher, toaster, table leg…

A broken litany lies between us.

About my bell? This old thing hasn’t been rung in ages. Doorbell’s still broken too. I reckon one’s an easier fix than the other.

Kursk

In the utter darkness, Captain-Lieutenant Kolesnikov had lost track of time since the explosion. He banged a spanner on the bulkhead of Compartment 9, no longer expecting an answer.

‘Just us, lads.’

Laboured breathing from the dark was the only reply.

Kolesnikov knocked on the hull at what he reckoned were hourly intervals. Three dots, three dashes, three dots – who would save their souls?

They called their names, their voices weak and hoarse. He wrote them by feel and pressed the note into a high point in the last air pocket.

Kolesnikov knocked again and waited. Then there was silence.

Stay Inside

His problem with dancing was that he was never in his whole body at once. His focus would concentrate into, say, his left arm. His right, left to its own devices, would get up to God knows what.

His cats suffered similarly. Watching the birds, all their energy concentrated into their licking tongues. Their distracting tails thumped unconsciously beneath the windowsill.

He developed a meditative exercise: pretending the thumps were various people deliberately knocking at the door. This helped. His mind knocked at his escaping right arm, and it let him in, and said he could stay inside, for now.

The Disciple

Waking sleep-fuddled each morning, she knew he’d made his daily pilgrimage.

First the drifting scent of disturbed chamomile when she opened her window.

Then a gentle after-trembling of the earth, birds alarm-calling in the shuddering willows, vague flattened grass shapes of to and fro feet.

Ridged doorstep clay boot droppings crumbling in early beaming sun, scarlet flakes, finger scratched from the door’s peeling paint, floating over the white roses.

Swirling whorls from a stranger’s cautious fingerprint on cracked glass, tapped reverberations setting her dreamcatchers a-sway.

Always the doorstep offerings.

Resistance worn away; she scrawled her note.

Lay morning silent…waiting.

Walls

I press an ear to the protruding wall in my bathroom and listen for a bird, a cough, anything.

Once I heard an old man singing. Another time, a mother read bedtime stories.

I heard New Year celebrations in spring, chatter from an Italian barber shop, the whirring machines of a commercial gym.

For weeks now the little wall has been silent.

I knock loudly and wait.

Then, I recognise her raspy chuckle.

‘BabiÄka?’

It’s been years since I heard the voice of my Czech grandmother, telling me not to worry. It would all be over soon.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these stories as much as we did. Vote for your favourite by using the form below or by following this link: https://form.responster.com/AEz73l