“There was more room to think,” wrote novelist David Gaffney on becoming a flash fiction convert, “more space for the original idea to resonate, fewer unnecessary words to wade through.” Stories of the sudden/skinny/mini/micro variety pack the best parts of fiction into brimming, half-pint packages. Celebrate the art of concision this month, dear writers, and write a story in 99 words or less.
Who is Eligible?
- DON’T SWEAT THE WORD COUNT (AT FIRST). Write with abandon, letting your story unfurl and wander as necessary. Then start the editing process. Clip a sentence here, prune a paragraph there, shaping your story down to its essence.
- NARROW YOUR VIEWFINDER. With just 99 words, flash fiction that focuses on a specific event/experience/memory is often most captivating. Let “depth over breadth” be your mantra. Rather than including multiple scenes, for instance, give your attention to one dazzling vignette.
- DIVE INTO ACTION. You don’t have time to wax poetic for a paragraph before getting to the heart of your story, so jump into the juicy stuff in your opening lines, sketching in the backstory later if necessary.
- LEAVE BREATHING ROOM. Like an iceberg, flash fiction only reveals part of the story. Celebrate the power of suggestion. As you write, ask yourself: What thought or question or feeling will this sentence leave the reader with? How can I open a door without revealing everything on the other side?
- MAGNIFY MOOD. A small space doesn’t lend itself to elaborate plots or a cast of characters. But you can create mood. As your narrative develops, step back and consider what feeling you want the story to elicit in your reader, and then choose your words carefully to help conjure that mood or atmosphere.
- WORK THE WORD COUNT. Your submission must, in its final form, be under 100 words (99 words or less!). Cutting down a long draft might sound like an arduous task, but concision will help you hone in on what’s most important and find the most essential story.
Young writers ages 13-18
99 words (or less)
Guest Judge: Janelle Milanes - YA Author
Janelle Milanes is originally from Miami, FL and received her BA in English Literature from Davidson College. A lifelong YA addict, she moved to New York for her first job as a children’s literature associate at Simon and Schuster.
For the past five years, Janelle has worked as a teacher and librarian throughout the New York City area. Her first novel reflects many of her own experiences growing up as a second-generation Latina in America.
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
- Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
- Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
- Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday, August 9, and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
WtW Camps and Workshops!
- August 2: Competition Opens
- August 9: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
- August 13: Reviews returned to Writers
- August 17: Final Submissions Due
- August 27: Winners Announced
Take your writing skills to the next level by participating in Write the World's virtual writing camps taught by professional authors, editors, and educators—including our Guest Judge, Janelle Milanes! This month, Janelle will be teaching Micro Memoir: Exploring Personal Narrative
. Include the code MicroMemoir15 to receive a 15% discount off the price of this workshop. Learn more and register here.
Our Film / TV Series Review Competition opens Monday, September 6th.
Stay tuned for more details!
Is previously published work eligible?
Our monthly competitions are designed to get you writing across a range of genres throughout the year, so we encourage you to write a new work for each competition, but we will also accept work that has been previously shared with a small, local audience (for instance, a piece that was published in a school journal).
How to Enter
- If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account for Write the World as a young writer here
- Hit the “Start Writing” button above!
- Draft your entry! Hit “Save” to return to it later.
- The first 100 people to submit a draft will receive an in-depth review from one of our Expert Reviewers—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals—that you can use to revise your final entry. The “Submit for Expert Review” button will be clickable if slots are still available—click it to have your draft reviewed. (Note: you can still enter the competition if you haven’t received or don’t want to receive an Expert Review!)
- When you are ready to submit your entry, hit the "Submit as Final" button (You can revise, re-publish, and mark any version as your "final submission" until the deadline.)
- Only one entry per person, please.
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All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.