Women’s Short Story Competition 2016

The competition is now closed.

It’s that time of year again when our Women’s Short Story Competition is open for business! As always, the 2016 competition welcomes writers of all levels of experience, writing stories on any subject – in any style. Up for grabs is a sumptuous £2,000 first prize, publication in the June 2016 issue of Mslexia and the fantastic exposure that this competition gives its finalists. So if you’ve got a story – or an idea – that could fit into our 2,200 word limit, we’d love to see your work.

1st prize: £2,000

Plus two optional extras: a week’s writing retreat at Anam Cara, and a day with an editor at Virago Press.

2nd prize is £500, 3rd prize £250. Three other finalists will each receive £100. All six winning stories will be published in the June issue of Mslexia.

Entry fee: £10 per story

Judge: Michèle Roberts

Please read the competition rules below before entering. If you have any questions please email [email protected] or call us on 0191 204 8860.

‘It was Debbie Taylor and when she said I’d won I couldn’t quite get my head around it. Honestly, afterwards I thought I’d dreamt the whole thing.’
Cherise Saywell, winner of the Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition 2015.


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The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait – an unsentimental, devastating, beautiful and important novel.

Shoot the Damn Dog by Sally Brompton – a painfully honest memoir which sums up everything many with depression have wanted to say but haven’t found the words for.

Marya Hornbacher's book 'Madness: A Bipolar Life' – chronicles being diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years after her life and health had already been irreparably been affected by it (those years are covered in Wasted).

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig – you've probably heard of this one, and there's a reason: it's very, very good. A raw, honest and genuinely funny look at depression and its effects.

Any collection by the wonderfully raw surreal and magical poet Selima Hill, but especially Bunny (bloodaxe Books), which is partly about Hill's experiences in mental hospital, but also about sexuality and her ebullient take on the natural world. No-one can match her concise funny and vivid metaphors for human experience. Her description of sexual desire involves a dog in car on a hot day...

And when we took to Twitter in search of some gems, here's what you came up with:

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell handled grief, compulsion, addiction and stress with extraordinary skill. (@betamother)

I Had a Black Dog '& Living With a Black Dog, both by Matthew Johnstone. Excellent pictorial articulations of how it feels. Rereading now! (@debspenspot)

The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway and the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (@cherryberryx)

Poppy Shakespeare by Clare Allen – fantastically highlights the often illogical failings of the mental healthcare system (@Louise_Ayre)

What are your favourite books exploring mental health? Care to share?
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