Our quarterly themed competition has a 500-word limit. You can send prose, script or poetry; fiction or non-fiction; a complete story or an extract of a longer work.

Submissions will be read anonymously, and the Reader’s favourites published on this site. Want to be a Reader for a future theme? Get in touch via didcotwriters@gmail.com.

We will aim to announce the winning pieces as soon as possible after the close of the competition, but please bear with us – it can take our Reader time if there have been a lot of entries! A single winner and a handful of other ‘Reader’s Choice’ pieces will be published on this site shortly thereafter – usually a few weeks after the competition closes. Read work selected as ‘Reader’s Choice’ in previous competitions here.

Our theme for Oct-Dec is: a man with a gun

You may be familiar with writing advice from Chekhov, Chandler and others (and if you’re not, read a summary here) about how to add action and pace to your work. But for this quarter we want you to take it literally. Your piece need not be a spy thriller, we’d like to see how you incorporate a man with a gun into your story:

Perhaps he’s in a painting in a gallery, or in the background on TV – or maybe your protagonist is a witness to a bank robbery. It might be that the man with the gun is a soldier or police officer and the gun is not used in the story at all but merely a tool he carries. Or maybe your characters are protesting gun violence, and the gun the man holds is a water pistol used to make a political point.

Deadline for submissions: 31st December 2021

Submission guidelines:

  1. Submit your entry via the google form linked under ‘How to Submit’ below. Please note the entry fee for those who are not participants at our free online events.
  2. Respond to the theme/challenge/prompt. If you’ve got the perfect piece of work but it doesn’t fit the current challenge, get in touch to suggest a theme for next time!
  3. There is no lower word limit. The upper word limit (not including title) is 500 words.
  4. There are no strict formatting requirements, but nothing too weird please.
  5. Please title your document with your entry title, and also put the title at the top of the work. Do not include your name in the document as entries will be read anonymously. Full credit will be given to the author if the work is published.
  6. No really bad swear words or explicit content, please.
  7. Submissions are welcomed from around the world, but must be in English.
  8. We don’t mind simultaneous submissions, or if your entry has been published elsewhere in the past, but please make sure your work is copyright cleared for it to be published online if chosen. (For example, if you need to include the line ‘first published in…’ to comply with a former publisher’s terms, let us know.)
  9. If your work is selected as winner or ‘Reader’s Choice’ it will be published on our website. We reserve the right to make minor edits. We would like to leave your work on our site indefinitely, but if you would like it removed after a minimum of 12 months online please get in touch.
  10. There will be no monetary payments to authors for work accepted as this is a non-profit competition run by volunteers; there is a possibility your work may be included in a printed/ebook anthology in future – we will get in touch if we want to include your work.
  11. We will keep your data in accordance with GDPR, and use your email address only to contact you to announce the competition winners and let you know of new competition opportunities (maximum one email a month after the announcement of winners). You can unsubscribe at any time, just email didcotwriters@gmail.com.

How to submit:

If you have not attended one of our events (online or otherwise) in the last 12 months you will need to pay a fee of £4 per entry. If you are unable to pay this fee, all you have to do to receive a free entry is attend one of our events (they’re all free and currently online – see bit.ly/didcotwriters-calendar for dates, and email didcotwriters@gmail.com for the links).

Pay the competition entry fee here.

For multiple entries: even for event participants only your first entry is free, no matter how many events you have attended. So for second and subsequent entries to the same competition please pay the £4 fee using the link above. If you want to pay for multiple entries to the same competition you can do it as one transaction.

Submit your entry via the google form here (you will need to sign in).

Please make your document title the same as the title of your entry, and include your title in your document (it’s not counted in the word count). All this saves us a headache later.

Want feedback on your work?

If you would like feedback on your work (that is, a ‘track changes’ version to give corrections, comments and suggestions) one of our team can provide this for an £8 fee. Just send your work to didcotwriters@gmail.com and we will send a Paypal money request. Once this has been paid we will send you feedback on your work.

We cannot guarantee that feedback will be given before the competition closes (please allow two weeks after payment is received), and we cannot guarantee that your story will be chosen as winner or ‘Reader’s Choice’ as a result of our feedback.