2018 RW Short Story and RW Flash Fiction Prize Winners

2018 RW Short Story Prize and RW Flash Fiction Results

We are delighted to be able to reveal the winners of the 2018 RW Short Story Prize and RW Flash Fiction Prize. Our thanks go to the judges, Paul McVeigh, for choosing the short story winners and Kathy Fish for choosing the flash fiction. Huge congratulations to our winners and to all of the shortlisted writers who made the top 10 in each category out of hundreds of entries. You’ll be able to read the winning stories in the annual anthology later this year.

2018 RW Short Story Prize Winners

1st Prize: Will You Go Out Tonight? by Joanna Campbell

Judge’s notes: Clearly an accomplished writer here; knows how to draw us in, how to create believable characters, how to tackle difficult subject matters, knowing what to hold back while still packing a punch. They also achieve that most difficult of tasks, emotionally engaging the reader. A writer we will not doubt hear much more from in the future.

2nd Prize: Between The Times by Richard Buxton

Judge’s notes: Beautifully written. Transports us to another time and place, which is a great achievement, and has that too often elusive of things, a great ending.

3rd Prize: Satellite Presence by A.C. Koch

Judge’s notes: Quirky and funny. I especially enjoyed the sci-fi-fantasy mystery of it which reminded me of The Twilight Zone shows I loved and learned so much from.


2018 Flash Fiction Prize Winners

1st Prize: A Beige Spot by Manisha Khemka

Judge’s notes: From the most deceptively simple title and opening image possible, unfolds a breathless and breathtaking paragraph wholly made up of a list of modified nouns. Here the form serves the content and the reader is given a felt experience not unlike that of a steady, pounding heartbeat.  What Manisha Khemka does with so few words (and not a single complete sentence) is both impressive and deeply affecting. The last two lines are devastating. This is daring, but more importantly, very emotionally compelling flash fiction. I am in awe of this work.

2nd Prize: Old Woman Cooking Eggs, Diego Velázquez 1618 by Fiona J. Mackintosh

Judge’s notes: Inspired by the famous painting by Velázquez, Fiona J Mackintosh’s beautifully imagined story is told from two points of view: the “old” woman’s (old for her time) and her grandson’s. With lush prose, cinematic imagery, and a narrative scope that belies its brevity, this is accomplished and deeply moving flash fiction writing.

3rd Prize: Sticking Point by Sherry Morris

Judge’s notes: I fell in love with this family and the young boy narrating this story, as they sit together watching their favorite TV show, Magnum P.I. The writing here is so full of precise, evocative details and I was drawn in by the storytelling voice: “We are all bound by sweat, blood, love and the crucified Christ who watches over us from the wall behind our heads.” Morris made my heart ache for this boy, and hope more than anything that his version of Heaven, both for himself and for his family, is realized.

Highly Commended: Connor and His Amazing Ejector Boots by James Ellis

Judge’s notes: A tender, deeply moving story with a gorgeous ending. Pow!



The 2019 Prizes are now open for submissions.

Get info on the 2019 Short Story Prize here

Get info on the 2018 Flash Fiction Prize here


Writing tips from Paul McVeigh

Writing tips from Paul McVeigh

Very happy to welcome Paul McVeigh to the blog today. Paul previously taught short story writing on a Retreat with Amanda and his debut novel The Good Son won the Polari Prize and the McCrea Literary Award. Paul is judging the 2018 RW Short Story Prize and Amanda got to ask him what he loves about the short story form.

What’s the best advice you can give to writers looking to master the short form?

Read. Read the authors they love. Read like a writer – how did they make me tense, sad, surprised? Read authors you don’t like – what am I not seeing that others do? What can I learn for this?

What kinds of stories do you hope to see when reading the shortlist for the RW Short Story Prize?

I like to feel something when I read. I like to laugh too. Neither of these reactions are easy to achieve. Too often attempts are cringe-making – too bald or inorganic. Get it right and they win prizes. Though a fab of raw hyper-realism, I also like unusual stories and unnerving mysteries and sci-fi.

What short story do you wish you’d written and why?

I don’t think like that but I’ll play along and choose one of my favourite short stories – Foster by Claire Keegan. So moving and yet not sentimental at all – in fact it’s often brutal. It gets me every time.

Which short story writers writing today do you admire and why?

Claire Keegan for her class and skill and Carmen Maria Machado for her imagination.


Thanks so much, Paul.

You can follow Paul on Twitter and find out more about him via his website.

Now… Short story writers get writing and submitting your stories for Paul to read. The deadline is 28th October 2018. There is £820 in cash prizes available, and all winning and shortlisted stories will be published in the annual anthology by Retreat West Books.

You can find the previous anthologies What Was Left and (forthcoming) Impermanent Facts on Amazon. They’ll give you a great idea what we’re looking for and perhaps a little inspiration!

Join our author community and get lots of great stuff, including free copies of Retreat West Books as they are published. Join here.


Short story retreat long and shortlists

Thanks to everyone that entered the competition to win a place at the short story retreat at a thatched cottage on Chesil Beach. I have really enjoyed reading all of the entries and I’m so impressed by the standard. There were more than 70 stories submitted in total and it has been a tough job coming up with these long and shortlists. The winner of the retreat will be announced on Friday 22nd April. Choosing the final winner is proving to be a very hard choice!

Longlist (A-Z by story title)

  1. A Marriage in Winter by Sarah Baxter
  2. An Extra Ordinary Pilgrimage by F.E. Clark
  3. An Expedition by Sara Roberts
  4. Another Beach by Rebecca Russell
  5. At the beach with Bill and Chrissie by Jude Higgins
  6. Away from Home by Anne O’Leary
  7. Beached by Downith Monaghan
  8. Between the Waves by Caroline Sutherland
  9. Blackout by Carys Puleston
  10. Boats Against the Current by Chris Thomas
  11. Brothers by Ingrid Casey
  12. Caveat Emptor by Carol Caffrey
  13. Chesiled by Marie Gethins
  14. Dead Rain by Cheryl Behr
  15. Doolally Tap by Sarah Edghill
  16. Ebb and Flow by Eimear O’Callaghan
  17. Endangered by Christopher Stanley
  18. Fog by Julie Noble
  19. Forty two by Rose Stevens
  20. Hold Your Breath and Count to Ten by Jan Kaneen
  21. In Plain Sight by LV Hay
  22. Jimmy Choo Shoes by Shannon Savvas
  23. Last Judgement by Rose McGinty
  24. Monsoon by Erika Cule
  25. Nomada by Tina Freeth
  26. Sea Path by Isobel Brown
  27. Selkie Song by Marianne Paget
  28. Shelby Cove by Ann O’Keife
  29. Slip by Lisa Derrick
  30. The Arc of Lust by Marie O’Halloran
  31. The Boat Trip by Dan Purdue
  32. The Freedom of the Sea by Hannah Persaud
  33. The Rift by Elinor Perry-Smith
  34. Throwing the Bones by Sarah Baxter
  35. To Be The Beach by Mandy Huggins


Shortlist (A-Z by story title)

  1. An Extra Ordinary Pilgrimage by F.E. Clark
  2. An Expedition by Sara Roberts
  3. Brothers by Ingrid Casey
  4. Caveat Emptor by Carol Caffrey
  5. Chesiled by Marie Gethins
  6. Fog by Julie Noble
  7. Forty two by Rose Stevens
  8. Jimmy Choo Shoes by Shannon Savvas
  9. Last Judgement by Rose McGinty
  10. Selkie Song by Marianne Paget
  11. The Freedom of the Sea by Hannah Persaud
  12. The Rift by Elinor Perry-Smith
  13. Throwing the Bones by Sarah Baxter
  14. To Be The Beach by Mandy Huggins

Competition: Win a place at the Short Story Retreat

From June 17th to 21st, Paul McVeigh and I will be teaching short story writing at this amazing location on Chesil Beach, also home to the stunning cliffs pictured above.

There are just 6 spaces to join us at the Short Story Retreat and you could win one of them by entering this competition.

What does the prize include?

You get your own room for four nights, all food and drink, and three masterclasses during the retreat. The rest of the time you get to write, read, chat with other writers, walk on the beach, sleep, whatever you want to do! Travel isn’t included and it’s up to you to sort that out. Get the full info on the Short Story Retreat here.

How can you win it?

By writing a short story of course! A very short one. Write a flash fiction story up to 500 words starting with the sentence: “It wasn’t really great weather for the beach…

I look forward to reading your stories and maybe to retreating with you to the beach…

Competition T&Cs

  • £10 to enter
  • Everyone that enters will also get a discount of £15.00 on the booking fee if their story doesn’t win the competition and they still want to come
  • Stories must be written in English, your own original work and unpublished online and in print
  • You can enter as many times as you like as long as you pay the fee each time
  • Submit your stories through Submittable by 10pm (BST) on 10th April 2016
  • Winner will be announced on 22nd April 2016
  • The judge’s decision is final
  • By entering the competition you agree to attend the Short Story Retreat and have your story published on the Retreat West website
  • The writer of the winning story gets a free place at the Short Story Retreat and the prize is not transferable