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Sand Texture

2024 Writing Competition

Poetry and Flash Fiction

Together with local publishers Dithering Chaps and Arts University Bournemouth, the Bournemouth Writing Festival is looking for poetry and flash fiction submissions for its first publication!

The competition’s theme is “Lines in the Sand”, and winners will be published in the resulting anthology.

There are two categories of entries:

  • Poetry with a maximum of 30 lines (excluding the title)

  • Flash fiction under 400 words (excluding the title)

The cost for entering the competition is £5 per entry.

We are supporting the Boscombe-based charity Vita Nova by providing free entry to their writers who are vulnerable, recovering or need financial support. Your optional donation (via the payment portal) will help disadvantaged writers express themselves through writing.

The deadline for entries is midnight on 29th February 2024 and entries must be sent to



There will be up to 40 winners and the prize has a number of elements.

Each winning author/poet will:

  • have their submitted work published in an anthology of flash fiction and poetry.  The anthology will be produced by Dithering Chaps and will be launched during the Bournemouth Writing Festival in April 2024

  • be invited to the official celebratory publication launch at The Pavilion Dance in Bournemouth on Sunday 28th April 2024

  • receive a copy of the anthology and be able to purchase further copies at a discounted price

  • receive two complimentary tickets to a BWF event of their choice and

  • have the opportunity to submit a collection of their work for consideration for publication by Dithering Chaps.

Beach Sand

The Competition's Theme

We have chosen a theme that you are free to interpret literally: a simple walk along the beach and you suddenly feel the lines rising within you; looking down from Bournemouth pier, and you imagine your character dragging their heel through the sand, saying, “This far and no further!”

But, of course, you might prefer to come at our theme slantwise: Neanderthal footprints exposed at high tide; imaginary rail-tracks that head out to sea; camels strung out on the crest of a dune; love lyrics slipping away through your fingers.

Whether your words come to you in a flash or from the slow rhythms of your poetic muse – please let us hear them, before wind and sea wash them away.

Submission Guidelines

The process for submitting an entry is as follows:


Prepare your submission

  • Prepare your piece in Word or include it in the body of your email, if you do not have access to Word.

  • Ensure that your submission conforms to the competition instruction and rules, for example in terms of length, theme, content and date of submission.

  • Please do not include your name, either in the document or the file name.  The competition organisers will send anonymised submissions to the judges, but will ensure that your work and contact details are recorded, so that you can be informed of the outcome of the competition.  Your contact details will only be used for this purpose and storage will conform to the Data Protection Act 2018.


Submission process and payment

  • Go to the Bournemouth Writing Festvial payment portal through our ticketing partner Trybooking.

  • Complete the submission form.

  • Pay the submission fee, adding a donation if you like.

  • Ensure that you receive confirmation of payment.

  • If you do not receive the confirmation email, or cannot see it, please email us at



Once you have received the confirmation email, please complete the following steps:

  • In the email subject, please use the format BWF Competition – Your nameFlash Fiction or Poetry entry substituting your details for the words in italics.

  • In the body of the email, please indicate:

    • The title of your submission

    • The category in which you would like your work to be considered (poetry or flash fiction)

    • The date shown on your receipt

  • Attach your submission as a Word document, or add it in the body of the email.

  • Send your submission to
  • Please state if you would like to be added on to Dithering Chaps’ mailing list to hear about future competitions, submission windows, forthcoming publications.

The Judges

Two lecturers from Arts University Bournemouth will be judging the long-list of entries.

Dithering Chaps Bournemouth Writing Festival competition.png

About Dithering Chaps

We have to admit it - we at Dithering Chaps have found our dream job!  We love to read and, as publishers, we can spend all day doing just that.  We are a small, indie publishing house and get our satisfaction from bringing undiscovered writers to the public's attention. 


Transport us wherever you like - we want to come on the journey with you!   If you'd like to know more about us, please visit our website where you can also sign up to receive news of our forthcoming publications, submissions windows and competitions

What the Judges are looking for

Flash Fiction

A story with a complete plot. A flash fiction is indeed a story with a beginning, middle and end. A sense of movement is important.


A story with strong imagery. The story needs to have vivid, evocative language and sensory details which build emotional resonance.


A story where every word is used resourcefully. 


A powerful title. With so few words, titles can be vital.


Originality and coherence in use of voice and imagery. I'm always interested to see poems which have been carefully placed on the page, so that form and structure play a part in bringing the subject-matter to life. In this way, poems can dance on the page! Hybridity and experimentation are welcomed. I'm hoping to be surprised and challenged in the poems I read: stereotypes challenged, empathy shown in unlikely situations, seeing beauty in the everyday... If a poem speaks to my heart and head in equal measure then it's likely to leave a lasting impression on me.

Terms and Conditions

Bournemouth Writing Festival Competition 2024 - Terms and Conditions of Entry


  • The theme for this writing competition is Lines in the Sand. Each submission should reflect the competition’s theme in some way.

  • The competition is open to both flash fiction and poetry.

  • There will be up to 40 winners.

  • Each flash fiction piece is to be a maximum of 400 words (excluding the title).

  • Each poem is to be a maximum of 30 lines (excluding the title).

  • The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over, at the time of entering.

  • International entries are welcome but all entries must be in English.

  • The competition begins on 23rd January 2024.

  • The closing date for the competition will be midnight (UK time), 29th February 2024, which is when the payment portal will close.

  • Winners will be notified by 31st March 2024.

  • All entries will be anonymised on receipt, before the judges see them, and therefore will be judged on their merits alone.

  • The publisher’s editors may suggest alterations to a winning entry, for example, to correct or amend grammar, formatting or spelling. Writers will be given a one-week window in March to approve the proposed changes before publication.

  • Your work will be submitted as an attachment to an email. The attachment should only contain the submitted piece and its title. Please do not identify yourself, either in the submission or in the file name of your document.

  • Every validated entry will be read and considered.

  • The judges’ decision is final and they will not enter into any correspondence.

  • No one connected with the organisation of the competition will be eligible to enter.

  • Entries must be the entrant’s original work.

  • Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on a website or made public on social media, broadcast or featured among the winners in another competition before 28th April 2024.

  • The process for submitting an entry is described fully above.

  • Validation of entries will be carried out by the competition organisers and their decision is final.

  • There is no limit to the number of entries a single entrant can make, but each submission is a seperate £5 fee. Booking fees, processing fees and tax are included in the price.

  • All entrants will receive an email letting them know that their work has been received.

  • The judging panel will comprise Natalie Scott (Poetry) and Charlotte Fodor (Flash Fiction) from Arts University Bournemouth.

  • The competition organisers reserve the right to change the judging panel without notice.

  • There will be up to 40 prize-winners and all aspects of the prize are described in full above. The prizes are non-transferable and non-exchangeable for cash and may be subject to availability.

  • The copyright of each work remains with the author/poet. However, creators of the winning poems or flash fiction, by entering this competition, grant the Bournemouth Writing Festival the right in perpetuity to publish and/or broadcast their flash fiction/poem. Use of the poems elsewhere for one year from April 2024 is subject to permission from the Bournemouth Writing Festival.

  • If you decide to publish or broadcast your work after April 2024, please credit Bournemouth Writing Festival and Dithering Chaps for the initial publication.

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