Quick links on this page:
81words.net 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, founder of 81words.net
"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."
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'.
Screenshot of Love is Difficult for Zombies from the 81words.net 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.
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:
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.
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 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.
The submission criteria are nice and simple:
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.
Love is Difficult for Zombies
by Christopher Fielden
"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."
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.
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.
"Oh, Good Doorknob Fairy, please turn me into a mirror."
Poof. The little doorknob became a bright, shiny mirror.
And no one could get the damned door open.