Quarterly Themed Flash Competition

For 2021, we have guest judges for each quarter again who have also chosen their own themes. Plus we have added a new prize! The winner and two runners-up receive cash prizes, have their stories published in the flash fiction journal on our website and will also have a professional reading of the story from actor and voice artist, Holly Joyce. These readings will be published on our YouTube channel and the winning writers will receive a copy to use for themselves too.


Winner Prize: £200 cash, story published online, professional recording of story

Runner-Up Prize  x 2: £100 cash, story published online, professional recording of story

Word limit: 500

Entry Fee

  • £8 for 1 entry
  • £43 for 1 entry plus detailed feedback on the story submitted

March Competition

Theme: A circus

Deadline: 28th March 2021

Judge: Sherry Morris

Originally from America’s Heartland, Sherry Morris writes prize-winning flash fiction and short stories from a farm in the Scottish Highlands where she watches clouds, pets cows and scribbles words. In February 2020, she joined the BBC Scottish Voices writer development programme and is working on a film script. She is a Northwords Now board member and reads for the wonderfully wacky Taco Bell Quarterly. Her first published short story was about her Peace Corps experience in Ukraine. She posts her work on www.uksherka.com and Twitter: @Uksherka

June Competition

Theme: The Uncanny

Deadline: 27th June 2021

Judge: Ross Jeffrey

Ross Jeffery is the writer of ‘Juniper’, ‘Tome’ and the novella-in-flash ‘Tethered’. His debut novella Juniper has been praised by many readers as well as writers such as Sarah Lotz, Priya Sharma, Lucie McKnight Hardy, Naomi Booth, Michael Clark, Adam Lock and Daniel James, all have added their high praise to this fear inducing nightmare of a book. Ross’ fiction has appeared in several print anthologies; his short stories and flash fiction can also be found in a whole host of fabulous online magazines. Ross lives in Bristol with his wife (Anna) and two children (Eva and Sophie). You can follow him on Twitter here @Ross1982

September Competition

Theme: Echo

Deadline: 26th September 2021

Judge: Vanessa Gebbie

Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist, short story writer and poet. ‘Words from a Glass Bubble’ is a collection of her award winning fiction from prizes including Bridport and the Daily Telegraph. She is contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story and contributor to The Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction.

December Competition

Theme: After

Deadline: 30th December 2021

Judge: Shaun Levin

Shaun Levin is the author of Seven Sweet Things, A Year of Two Summers, and Snapshots of The Boy, amongst other books. His short stories have been anthologised alongside Nadine Gordimer, Ali Smith, and Edmund White. He has been teaching creative writing for over twenty years, and devised the series of guides, The Writing Notebooks, for writers taking on book-length projects. Visit shaunlevin.com and writingmaps.com

Competition Rules

  • Submit stories written in English through Submittable using the button below by 23.59 GMT on the deadline date (sorry late entries will not be included).
  • Please include a word count on the story document
  • Maximum word count is 500 (excluding title) but there is no minimum. Please do not submit stories above this word count as they will be automatically disqualified. Sorry!
  • Do not include your name on the story or the submission title but provide a short bio in the Submittable cover letter section – sorry but stories where we can see the writer’s name will automatically be disqualified as all entries are judged anonymously.
  • Stories must be your own original work and not have been published online or in print.
  • By entering the competition you agree to your story being published on the Retreat West website.
  • If you enter the story elsewhere and it is accepted for publication before judging takes place then you will have to withdraw it and no entry fees will be refundable.
  • Stories can be in any genre apart from children’s fiction.
  • You can enter multiple stories but the £8 entry fee is payable each time and each story must be submitted separately.
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Cash prize payments will be made through PayPal or by BACS.
  • There is no alternative prize.

If you join our friendly and lively Writing Community, you can get entries to this competition included in one of the packages. Get info here.