Penned Micro-fiction Writing Competition: A story, in exactly 50 words

Why ‘Penned’? We love a play on words, and ‘penned’ has a lovely double-meaning for our purposes. Penned means both ‘to have written’ (‘I penned this short fiction’), and to be limited, or ‘penned in’.  

Read about our 2024 judges here.

Skip to past winners here.

2024 rules and conditions:

  • To enter, click and complete this form:
  • Please read these rules and conditions carefully. They are designed to answer your questions and to make the jobs of our volunteer admin and judges easier
  • If you do not comply with these rules and conditions, your entry will not be considered and no correspondence will be entered into
  • Competition opens on Saturday 7 June 2024 and closes at 11.59pm, Saturday 21 September 2024
  • Winners of the judges’ vote will be announced on social media and the QLF newsletter on 12 October 2024
  • All winners will be notified by email
  • One entry per person
  • Three sections:
    • Open-age 
    • Secondary school 
    • Primary school 
  • Penned entries should be a story
  • Your Penned micro-fiction piece does not have to have a title
  • If your entry has a title, it is not included in the 50-word limit
  • Judges will not see your personal details, only your entry
  • Penned entries must be fifty (50) words exactly; contractions are acceptable; incorrect hyphen use is not (a hyphenated word is one word). Refer to Macquarie Dictionary if in doubt
  • Email addresses of Open section entratnts will be added to Queenscliffe Literary Festival’s subscription list (you may unsubscribe easily later, but we’d love you to stay)
  • Entries may be used by QLF in social media, website, and/or print media
  • Open only to Australian residents
  • The administrator of the Penned Micro-fiction Writing Competition holds a current WWC card.


  • Your students can enter individually via the link above,


  • if you'd prefer to collate entries for your class or group you can do so via an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Please identify the individual entries and provide the following information about each in your email:
    • Story identifier (for example with a title or a number)
    • Given name of student
    • Contact number and name the teacher 
    • Postcode of the student
    • Section that you are entering (eg Primary or Secondary school)
    • Your school’s name.


Open section: 

  • $100 bookshop voucher to one winner as judged by our QLF judges

Secondary school section: 

  • $80 bookshop voucher to one winner as judged by our QLF judges

Primary school section: 

  • $50 bookshop voucher to one winner as judged by our QLF judges.


Meet our 2024 judges:

The 2024 Penned judges are authors Jock Serong, Mark Smith and Favel Parrett. 

Open section judge: Jock Serong, award-winning author of Quota, The Rules of Backyard Cricket, On the Java Ridge, Preservation, The Burning Island, The Settlement, and the forthcoming Cherrywood.

Secondary school section judge: Mark Smith, best-selling author of the Winter Trilogy (The Road to Winter, Wilder Country and Land of Fences) and If Not Us for young adults.

Primary school section judge: Favel Parrett, award-winning author of Past the Shallows, When the Night Comes, There Was Still Love, Wandi and Kimmi. 













2022 Lilly B 2022 Lilly B
2022 AllisonM 2022 LucyB





2021 KatharineMolloy 2021 SusanValenta
2021 Maya 2021 Charlotte


JUDGES’ CHOICE Top three stories

2020 DaniNetherclift 2020 Joe Novella
2020 ChristineGordon