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Quick links on this page:

about 81words - 81words writing challenge rules & how to submit - read 81word stories

The History of 81words

How 81words Started was a flash fiction website started by Adam Rubinstein. He's a self-professed educational basket-case from the 70’s who says he finds his sense of meaning and well-being through creativity.

Adam Rubinstein

Adam Rubinstein, founder of

Adam said:

"A long time ago, a few years after wasting most of my time at school, I entered a competition to write a story in 50 words. There were options for five different genres and each had a different paragraph given as the starting point. I didn't win but really enjoyed the challenge of carefully crafting words to create a beautiful jewel. Something perfect and complete in itself.

"The experience stayed with me and I thought it might be something lots of us could enjoy. An opportunity to be creative in an accessible way that isn’t too demanding on our time. So 81 words was born."

Why 81words Is Now Part of

I first became aware of 81words when Adam contacted me in January 2015 asking if his website could be added to my lists of short story and flash fiction competitions.

After creating the listing, I decided to have a go at the 81word challenge and submitted a story. It was called 'Love is Difficult for Zombies'.

Love Is Difficult For Zombies by Christopher Fielden on

Screenshot of Love is Difficult for Zombies from the website

I then wrote about 81words in my book, How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money. I'd decided to investigate including some advice about flash fiction in the book after liaising with authors that said they struggle to find the time to write due to long working hours.

How to Write a Short Story

The 81 word story only took me about half-an-hour to write. I submitted it straight away and it was published within 10 minutes. I used this as a case study, to illustrate how quickly you could become a published writer by using flash fiction sites like 81words - achievable, even if you're the busiest person on the planet.

In April 2017 Adam contacted me again. He was developing a new project called Fretmeister, which was working really well. This meant he didn't have time to give 81words the attention it needed.

While Adam didn't have time to run 81words, he thought it would be a shame if it just disappeared as it had a lot of active users. He asked me if I'd like to take it on. I agreed.

There were 2 options of how to proceed:

  1. PLAN A: run 81words in its current form - it was largely automated, so I was hoping it wouldn't take up much time
  2. PLAN B: create a landing page on my site that continued what Adam had started

A few users from my email list expressed an interest in getting involved with helping me run the wesite, which was very much appreciated. Big thanks to them.

In the end, I went for PLAN B. 81words had a lot of users (about 2,500) but it didn't receive very much traffic (only around 10 visits a day).

If the traffic levels were high enough, I planned to monetise the site using Google AdSense, so the ongoing running-costs (d0main, hosting, updates etc.) were covered. That would mean users could carry on enjoying the site for free.

Unfortunately, with low traffic levels, this option wasn't financially viable, so I redirected the website onto this page and opened the 81word Writing Challenge. That meant users could still try the 81 word flash fiction writing challenge out for free and see their work published. However, I had to abandon the user voting system as the cost of installing it onto my site wasn't practical.

So, this is the new home of 81words. You can read and submit stories further down the page.

81words on Social Media

Here are links to the 81words social media profiles:

I've kept the social media profiles for 81words live. I'm not sure how much they'll get used in the future, but I thought it would be nice to keep them for the sake of history.

81words Email Addresses

81words used to have 2 active emails associated with it. They were:


These emails are no longer checked and have permanent autoresponders on them. If you want to contact me about 81words, please visit my contact page.

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81words Writing Challenge - Rules & How To Submit

The submission criteria are nice and simple:

  • Stories must be EXACTLY 81 words in length
  • please include a title for your story (not included in the word count)
  • entry is FREE
  • anyone can submit
  • 1 entry per person
  • no profanity please - all the writing challenges on this website are shared with children
  • your 81word stories will be published on this page
  • at some point in the future, the stories MIGHT be published in an anthology - this will depend on time and other commitments
  • by submitting, you accept the terms and conditions
  • IF any anthologies are published, you will be involved in the book launch process
  • submit your story using the comments form below

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81word Stories

Below you will find all the 81word stories submitted to the 81word Writing Challenge. I hope you enjoy reading them.

The stories are published in the order they were received.

The first story, by me,appeared on the 81word website in January 2015 and is featured in the screenshot further up the page.

Story 001

Love is Difficult for Zombies

by Christopher Fielden


"No, Edward."

"Want brains. Now."

"No one wants to give you their brains. You're certainly not having mine."

"Must have brains."

"Edward, stop it."

"Sweet, spicy brains."

"I have a headache."

"Want your juicy brains."

"I told you to go to A&E when that thing bit you. You never listen to me."


"Eating brains isn't socially acceptable. There are still more people than zombies."

"Hungry. Want lovely brains."

"I can't take this, Edward. I'm leaving."

"Need brains."

"Goodbye, Edward."

Story 002


by Michael Rumsey

I do not like dogs, never have. Daniel should have consulted me before bringing that crazy stray home. One pet in the house is enough.

Typically, Bruno turned out to be loud, boisterous and charges around like the proverbial bull in a china shop. But he does have one redeeming attribute.

I take a nap every afternoon. Bruno ensures no other strays enter our garden allowing me to sit up in our apple tree and purr away to my heart's content.

Story 003

The Tragically Unforeseen Consequences of a Hopeful Request

by Jerry Wilson

Once upon a time there was a little doorknob. All day long, he sighed, "Oh, how I wish I were a mirror. Then people would look at me and smile."

The Good Doorknob Fairy had heard about enough. Grabbing her magic wand and her tiara, she flew on down.

"What, Dude?"

"Oh, Good Doorknob Fairy, please turn me into a mirror."

"No probs."

Poof. The little doorknob became a bright, shiny mirror.

And no one could get the damned door open.

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