“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)
YA Author Janelle Milanes
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 & Schuster.
For the past five years, Janelle has worked as a teacher and librarian throughout the New York City area. Her novels reflect 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 10 and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
- August 3: Competition Opens
- August 10: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
- August 14: Reviews returned to Writers
- August 18: Final Submissions Due
- August 28: Winners Announced
Our Historical Fiction Competition opens Monday, September 7th.
Stay tuned for more details!
The power of our writing goes hand in hand with responsibility. Make sure that you’re supporting other people through your writing rather than pulling them down. The types of content that will be removed from the site include, but are not limited to:
- Anything that may be deemed hurtful, defamatory or discriminatory in nature.
- Anything deemed explicit or gratuitously violent.
- Anything referencing self-harm.
- Any commercial posts and/or spam.
- Plagiarism (see more at our Writing Guidelines page).
- Personal contact information—including usernames on social media or other platforms. This is to protect the privacy of our members.
- Links to any external websites, with the exception of links to citations as part of an essay, or including links to illustrations or audio as part of a Write the World competition or prompt.
If a writer posts content that violates our terms or goes against our guidelines, we will remove the post and contact the writer when necessary. Please refer to our Writing Guidelines
and site’s terms
for further information.