Judging for the last flash competition is currently in progress

We’re taking a break from flash quarterly but keep an eye out for 2020 competition news

Writerpeople! Your words are needed. By us. We want your words, is what we’re saying. We crave them. And if we don’t get them in regular, let’s say three-monthly doses, we will shrivel and perish.

Welcome, friends, to our quarterly flash fiction competition.

In the years we’ve been running writers’ retreats and writing courses, we’ve come across a whole load of amazing stories written by our amazing students. “Holy fuckballs!” we cried, “Those stories should be published and read the whole internet over!” And then we realised that we in fact have a website and are a writing organisation of growing recognition and means and actually what the hell is stopping us from running our own competition and publishing those stories ourselves? Nothing. That’s what.

So here we are. We’re doing it. Send us your stories. You don’t have to be a WHQ member (though we’d love you to join us), there’s no entry fee, and our requirements are very simple. PLUS, if you win you’ll get a bunch of Writers’ HQ stuff that will make your literary brain extremely happy.

Everything you need to know is on this page but here’s the tl;dr in handy bullet point form:

  • The competition runs quarterly, with deadlines on 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December.
  • Word limit is 500 words of prose. It’s a flash thing, y’all. Short and punchy, right in the feels, please.
  • There’s no theme. No restriction on genre or style. We just want your best words.
  • However: please note that this is a flash fiction competition. Please don’t send us poetry, scripts, essays, or stories longer than 500 words. They will all be automatically rejected. Sorry. Them’s the breaks.
  • To get an idea of what we’re looking for, check out the previous winners and shortlisted stories here.
  • FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SHINY READ THE GUIDELINES BELOW (if you ignore them and send us something that’s over the word limit or has your name on it, you will be disqualified)
  • Prizes include a wee handful of cash + full Writers’ HQ membership (which gives you access to £1000+ in writing courses) and tickets to UK writing retreats.
  • Winners and shortlisters will be published on the Writers’ HQ site and in an annual print anthology.
  • We’re so excited. Are you excited? We’re excited. Let’s go.


£100 + 12 months Writers’ HQ membership, 3 free retreats*, a massive gold star and a pat on the head

£50 + 6 months Writers’ HQ membership and 3 free retreats*, a medium gold star and a pat on the back

£25 + 3 months Writers’ HQ membership and 3 free retreats*, a small gold star and a kick up the bum

[*Note: we currently only run writing retreats in the UK, but if you’re not a UKer we’d be happy to switch up the retreat aspect of the prize for a critique instead]


  • Send us up to 500 words of flash fiction (not including title)
  • Rolling deadlines: 31st March 2019, 30th June 2019, 30th September, 31st December (all deadlines end at midnight GMT)
  • Open theme/subject but anything misogynist/homophobic/racist/abusive etc is gonna get deleted superfastthankyougoodbye
  • This competition is for FLASH FICTION only – poems, scripts, essays and children’s book manuscripts (yes, we’ve received all of these) will be rejected, sorry
  • Entry is FREE (because yay inclusivity!) but if you have the means to do so you are very welcome and actively encouraged to make an optional donation to our bursary scheme to fund places on our courses and retreats for low income and minority writers.
  • Maximum of 3 entries per author
  • We’d prefer unpublished stories but posting on your personal blog is fine
  • Simultaneous subs are fine (just let us know if your story has been accepted elsewhere)
  • Judging is blind so please do not put any identifying details (your name, email etc) on your story document
  • Please use a boring, easy-to-read font of around 12pt size.
  • Submit your entry using the form down below as a doc, docx or pdf attachment. (Any questions or general chat please email to [email protected] but please don’t send your stories via email or they will be immediately disqualified!)
  • The judges’ decision is final but we’re totally here for the flailing because IT’S SO UNFAIR if you don’t win
  • The author retains all rights at all times but by entering the competition you are giving us permission to publish your story on our website and in a print anthology should you win.
  • 1st prize: £100 + 12 months Writers’ HQ membership and 3 free retreats
  • 2nd prize: £50 + 6 months Writers’ HQ membership and 3 free retreats
  • 3rd prize: £25 + 3 months Writers’ HQ membership and 3 free retreats
  • Writing retreats are currently only available in the UK. If you’re not in a retreat region you can donate your retreats to a local writer who otherwise can’t afford to attend (we’ll figure out the logistics of that at a later date…) OR we can offer you a critique of up to 1,000 words.
  • Please note travel expenses are not included.
  • By entering this competition you are agreeing to be added onto our newsletter list which is full of good stuff but you can unsubscribe at any time obvs.
  • You also agree that you’ve read our privacy shiz and said yeah whatever.


Hello. We’re not being dicks about this but if we have 300 entries and they’re all called ‘whq-comp.pdf’ and written in wingings we’re a bit fucked. Follow these simple instructions and you’ll be fine:

  1. Do not include your name ANYWHERE on your story.
  2. Use page numbers.
  3. Use your story title as your file name, eg: my-amazing-story.pdf (or .doc, or .docx). This is very simple to do. Please do not ignore this instruction. And DO NOT put your name in the title (see point 1 above). Just to be clear, if your story is called Feather On A Millpond and it’s a PDF, you name your file feather-on-a-millpond.pdf. If your story is called The Blindness Of Mauve and it’s a docx, you call your file the-blindness-of-mauve.docx
  4. Triple check your name isn’t anywhere in your document (are you seeing a pattern here?).
  5. Send us your motherflapping story.


We want your best writing. And it just so happens we have a bunch of advice on how to write good shit. Just sayin’. You might wanna take a look. Such as:


Please make sure your name IS NOT anywhere on this doc and you have followed our naming convention, above. All misnamed files will be disqualified. Soz McGoz.

We only accept PDF, docx or doc files. No more than 2MB. Image files are not allowed