Monthly Micro Fiction Competition

Our monthly micro fiction writing competition has great prompts and prizes.

All reading and voting is done anonymously so no putting your name on your story or telling people which is yours if you’re shortlisted. We’ve recently had an issue with a shortlisted writer ignoring this rule and revealing her story title and lobbying for votes, which is why we have now changed the prizes and judging structure. Any writers found doing this in the future will be banned from taking part in all of the Retreat West competitions. Please honour the spirit of the competition and your fellow writers.

How does it work?

On the first Monday of each month (apart from August and December when we have time off) we post the prompt and you get a week to write and submit a story based on it. Four days after submissions close we announce the longlist and on the third Monday of the month we publish a shortlist of 10 stories in a blog.

Winners of the cash prize are decided by our panel of judges and the shortlist of 10 goes to public vote to win the People’s Prize. Voting remains open for one week and then the writer with the most votes wins the mystery prize, which will change each month and be announced at the same time as the results.

The prompts will be posted here each month.  We’re hoping to see some different takes on the prompts so don’t always go for the first thing it brings to mind…

Word count: 100 words exactly – the title is not included in the word count. We use MS Word to count for us and will give leeway of a word or two each way. Hyphenated words are counted as one but don’t use loads to increase the words available to you!

Entry fee: £5 or £25 with detailed feedback on the story you submit (if you book feedback and your story then wins a prize you can send a different micro story in for our editor to look at)

1st Prize: 30% of the entry fees received for the competition, one free entry to our annual Flash Fiction Prize (top prize £350) and your story published in our Flash Fiction area of the website.

2nd Prize: 20% of the entry fees received for the competition, one free entry to our annual Flash Fiction Prize and your story published in our Flash Fiction area of the website.

People’s Prize: It’s a secret! This will change each month and be revealed with the results.

Shortlisted (but don’t win one of the 3 main prizes): Free entry to the next Monthly Micro Fiction Competition.

All winning and shortlisted stories are also published individually in the Flash Fiction area of our website.

Once the deadline for the competition closes, we’ll confirm how many entries we received and what the cash prize will be.

Please read all the competition rules at the bottom of the page before you submit. We get messaged with a lot of questions about this competition and the answers to all of them are already detailed in the rules section below.

January 2022 Micro Fiction Competition

Opens: 3rd January

Deadline: 23.59 UK time 9th January

Longlist published: 13th January

Shortlist published and voting begins: 17th January

Voting closes: 24th January

Winners announced: 25th January

This month’s prompt comes from Retreat West community member, Katherine Heltzel, who is ‘the short author who tells tall tales’. To date she has published two short story collections for younger readers, and five middle grade fantasy adventure novels with Dragonfeather Books.

Her short stories have been longlisted twice and shortlisted once in the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize, and been published in around a dozen anthologies. Cirque de la Vie was a runner up in Retreat West’s Quarterly Flash Competition March 2021. She blogs about life and writing at Squidge’s Scribbles, runs a writing group called NIBS, and is a volunteer librarian at a primary school. She lives in the heart of the UK with Mr Squidge and has two grown up Squidgelings.

Prompt: Katherine’s prompt is:


We love this prompt word as it can be used in so many ways!

Will your bottle be an actual bottle holding some form of liquid, or maybe a message that’s travelled the seas? Or maybe it will be someone bottling out or feeding a baby. Or something entirely different!

Looking forward to reading this month’s submissions. Go write!

Competition Rules

  • The competition is open to writers worldwide but stories must be written in English.
  • Submit stories through Submittable using the button above (only shows when submissions are open) by 23.59 GMT on the deadline date. You will have to create a free Submittable account to enter. No email entries will be accepted.
  • Do not include your name on the story or submission title but provide a short bio in the body of the message in Submittable as we can’t see this until shortlists are chosen. All stories are read anonymously so any showing the author’s name will be automatically disqualified.
  • Stories must be your own original work and not have been published online or in print, or have won any other competitions (longlisted and shortlisted places in other competitions is fine).
  • Simultaneous submissions are fine but if your story is accepted elsewhere you must withdraw it from this competition and your entry fee will be forfeited.
  • By entering the competition you agree to your story being published on the website.
  • Stories can be in any genre apart from children’s fiction. Please no racism, sexism, or any kind of hate.
  • You can enter as many times as you like but all entries must be made separately and the entry fee paid each time.
  • The judge’s decision is final.
  • Cash prize payments will be made through PayPal or BACS. Submittable payments are made in the following month for the previous month so winner’s payments will be paid once we receive the funds are received from Submittable.
  • In the case of a draw for first or second place, the writers will share the prize.
  • In the case of a draw for the People’s Prize, both writers will receive the prize.
  • There is no alternative to the cash prizes or the People’s Prize.