The Retreat West Novelette-in-Flash Prize 2020


The words of Christopher Marlowe aptly sum up the genre of Flash Fiction: ‘Infinite riches in a little room’.

Compression and brevity make these small narratives sharp, intense snapshots of time that are as comfortable with the surreal and poetic as they are crossing genre boundaries and pushing out into experimental modes of writing. This flexibility has meant that the short-short has been able to embrace a variety of hybrid forms including the graphic, the lyric essay, and has also expanded to create larger formats like the novella-in-flash.

Here at Retreat West we are big fans of all these genres but we think that there is still room, a micro-gap, that could be filled – we are calling it the Novelette-in-Flash.

The novelette has not always had great press. In times gone by it was a term coined to mean a novel with trivial and sentimental themes, so we think it’s time to take it back…but with a twist. We believe the novelette-in-flash is the perfect medium to straddle the intensity of the short story and the emotional sustenance of the novella.

With this in mind, the maximum word count for this competition is 8000 words. The narrative arc should be made up of standalone flash fiction chapters of up to 500 words each.

We hope you find there is enough space to play, experiment and investigate character and themes and yet enough constraint to deliver on Marlowe’s vision.

We’re delighted to welcome Sophie Van Llewyn as our first judge of this new competition and can’t wait to read your novelettes-in-flash!


Sophie van Llewyn loves reading and writing prose in all its forms, from flash fiction to full-length novels. Her debut ‘Bottled Goods’ has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019. She is co-editing the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology in 2020. Sophie was born in Romania, but currently lives in Germany.


31st May 2020 – EXTENDED TO 14TH JUNE


  • First Prize: 8 month mentoring package with Mary-Jane Holmes to write new novelette, novella-in-flash or flash collection
  • Second Prize: Retreat West Gold Flash Membership
  • Third Prize: Feedback report from Mary-Jane Holmes on the novelette submitted
  • Shortlisted: Feedback on one story from the novelette submitted – this will be from either Amanda Saint or Mary-Jane Holmes

Entry fee


Word count

3000 to 8000 words for Novelette-in-Flash

Up to 500 words for each flash within (no minimum)


Enter here


Competition Rules

  • Submit novelettes written in English through Submittable by 23.59 GMT on the deadline date (sorry late entries will not be included). Creating a Submittable account to make entries is free.
  • Email entries are not accepted.
  • Please include a word count on the story document
  • Please do not submit stories above or below the 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 body of the covering letter as we can’t see this until stories are shortlisted – sorry but stories where we can see the writer’s name on the document or in the title will automatically be disqualified as all entries are judged anonymously.
  • Novelettes must be your own original work and not have been published online or in print. Individual flash stories within the novelette can be published as long as you retain full rights to re-publish them.
  • If you enter the novelette 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. Please no racism, sexism, bigotry or hate of any kind.
  • You can enter multiple novelettes but the £10 entry fee is payable each time and each novelette must be submitted separately.
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • There are no alternative prizes available.