War of the Words is a microfiction/flash-fiction competition that takes place at all Open Pen events. To enter, write a piece at no more than 250 words that you are willing to read out live at an Open Pen event. Each piece of microfiction read live will be judged by a panel (usually a guest panel) who will be especially interested in originality, individuality of voice, and crowd reaction. Winners will usually receive a bookish prize of some sort, and more importantly, find their winning piece in Open Pen Magazine.

To find out when the next War of the Words competition takes place, take a look at our events page

Writers can sign up by contacting info@openpen.co.uk


What if my piece is more than 250 words?

That’s cheating! But if we’re talking a couple of extra words, then we’ll probably let it in.

I’m shy. What if I don’t want to read my piece out?

Hmmm. I guess we can read it out for you, we’ve done that before. 

I’m quiet. What if people can’t hear me?

We have a microphone.

Is poetry/verse allowed?


Can I decide on the night whether I want to perform?

Yes. We’d prefer you to sign up beforehand, but understand if you’re not sure whether you can make it till the last minute.

Does it cost anything?

Your ticket to the event get you a spot in the competition. You can buy your ticket beforehand online, or you can pay on the door. Tickets are usually priced at about £5

Is swearing allowed?

Aloud swearing is allowed.  We’re no prigs.

Does it have to be funny?

Nope. A lot of people veer toward comedy when it comes to short fiction. It’s understandable. But you can grab us with something completely devoid of humour, if it’s sincere.

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