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6-Word Story Contest: The Shortlisters & Winner

Dan Micklethwaite - Author and winner of the Magic Oxygen 6-Word Story ContestWe recently ran the Magic Oxygen 6-Word Story Contest and received an absolutely splendid response.

As mentioned in our previous post, we had 1,722 entries from 38 countries and we sat and read each and every one.

We whittled them down to a shortlist of 9 and are now delighted to let you know that Dan Micklethwaite has won the £100 prize money with:

“I’m a hero!”  “Was…” corrected Death.

We loved it – congratulations Dan!

It ticked the box of our criteria with its enigmatic twists of possibility and it was certainly a complete story in its brevity.

However, it was a tricky decision to nail to the wall because our shortlist of 9 was packed full of great entries – congratulations to each and every one of you.

Here they are:

Steven Callaghan:    She clutched her heart. Autopsy abandoned.

Steven writes ghost stories, young adult and historical fiction. He has lived in Wales all his life. In recent years, he wrote history articles for a community magazine. Steve’s literary heroes and heroines range from Oscar Wilde to Hilary Mantel. He has a passion for past times and this is reflected in his writing.

Twitter: @SPCalla

Gary Duncan:    “Let’s get shitfaced!” “Maybe later, Gran.

Gary is a freelance writer and editor. His short stories have appeared online and in print, in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Shotgun Honey and Near to the Knuckle, among others. He has worked in Hong Kong, Brussels and Milan, and currently lives in Northumberland.

He also edits the Spelk flash fiction website. This is his first stab at a six-word story, and he’s discovered it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Twitter: @garyjohnduncan
Twitter: @SpelkFiction

James Fent:    His dreamgirl became his wife’s nightmare.

James lives “in the miserable shadow of Manchester UK”. At the moment he’s working as a labourer; although, he considers himself a full time writer and poet. His greatest joy in life is sitting down at his desk with his records spinning like black vinyl whirlpools, (usually Classical or ’60s psychedelic music) and writing into the night.

He is heavily inspired by the Beat Generation and many writers/poets from the same era. Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson etc. He is also a big reader of English writers, especially fellow Mancunian, Anthony Burgess. He prides himself on being fluant in ‘Nadsat’. Along with his poems, he is also currently writing his first novel and a book of short stories.

Twitter @JimmyFent

Tessa Foley:    “I’m home, Darling. That’s MY dress!”

Tessa Foley is a writer living on the south coast and working at the University of Portsmouth where she formerly gained her Masters in Creative Writing.

A former winner of the Live Canon poetry competition, she has been published in such literary magazines as Antiphon and Sentinel Quarterly, is a finalist in the Poetry Rivals competition and was recently long listed in the National Poetry Competition.

Putting off finishing her novel about alcoholism, she is most often inspired to write about the darker side of life with occasional breaks in to observational poetry about the history student and two naughty cats with whom she shares her home.

Twitter @Unhelpable

Janet Gogerty:    “I am starting again” said God.

Janet Gogerty has been writing seriously for nearly eight years. She loves writing short stories and novels; she has won prizes and had stories published on paper, on line and in audio.

During that time she has also joined the new world of ‘Indie Authors’ and has six books published on Amazon Kindle, the latest novel completes her ‘Brief Encounters Trilogy’.

As part of her foray into the ether she has a website which has taken on a life of its own and she is also a member on where she writes a regular blog – Sandscript.


Helen MacKinven:    Cash withdrawn. Profile selected. Sperm deposited.

Helen writes contemporary Scottish fiction, with a particular interest in exploring themes such as social class and identity, using black comedy and featuring Scots dialect. She graduated with merit from Stirling University with an MLitt in Creative Writing in 2012.

Helen’s short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and literary journals, such as Gutter magazine and one of her novels was shortlisted in a UK-wide competition by Hookline Books. Her debut novel, Talk of the Toun, will be published by ThunderPoint in October 2015.

Twitter: @HelenMacKinven

Erin Potter:    Her reflection smiled; she did not.

Erin Potter is a university student currently studying a dual degree. She has a passion for literature and biology which is fundamentally how she decided on my Journalism/Nutrition Science degree; she finds it very rewarding being able to explore both passions equally.

She has always had a fascination with the written word and how just a few of them can invoke fear, joy, sadness, or any number of emotions from the reader. She wanted to test her ability to awaken these emotions with nothing more than six well chosen words as her weapons of choice.

Rafael S.W:    I gave everything. You kept it.

Rafael S.W is a 25 year old RMIT Graduate living in Melbourne where he writes short stories and poetry and is a founding member of ‘Dead Poets’ Fight Club’. He’s been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, The Sleepers Almanac, and Award Winning Australian Writing.

This year he is a regular contributor to Going Down Swinging online where he’s exploring the evolution of language. He is currently working on a few collections of short stories, and compilation anthologies although he still makes time for the occasional poetry slam or giant-sized chess game.


Dan is a freelance writer and artist based in Yorkshire who draws great inspiration from the landscape and history of the North-east, and at present is fascinated by the ways in which that history is preserved in, and even rewritten by, local folktales.

He occasionally ventures further afield (the villages and vineyards of Provence being a favourite former haunt) his short fiction has travelled much more widely, featuring in a range of publications from Australia to America and points in between. His début novel is due for publication in 2016.

Dan submitted a few 6-word stories (entrants could enter up to 10) and told us, “There isn’t any great backstory to the pieces I submitted; they were more just ideas I’d had floating around for a while, which had been waiting for the right form in which to give them expression. Your 6-word story competition was apparently just what I needed to focus my mind.”

If you’d like to find out more about Dan Micklethwaite, why not follow him on Twitter @Dan_M_writer.

We’ll also be planting a tree in the Magic Oxygen Word Forest in celebration of Dan’s achievement and his winning entry and bio will feature in our next anthology which will be packed with pieces from the winners from the next Magic Oxygen Literary Prize – fondly known as MOLP2 – which we’ll be running later this summer.

Incidentally, if you’d like to have a tree in our Word Forest and be part of our amazing reforestation and new classroom build scheme in Bore, Kenya please take a peek here – thank you.

We’re looking forward to running our next writing competition – details will be revealed here soon!

The Team

9 thoughts on “6-Word Story Contest: The Shortlisters & Winner

  1. Very fun, challenging. Loved the winning entries! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Mary, keep an eye open for the next competition.

      The Team

  2. […] Appropriately, ‘The Winner Takes it All’ by ABBA was played just before the result was announced. Hubby and I paused unpacking the shopping to hear that Dan Micklethwaite’s very clever story scooped the £100 prize. You can read Dan’s winning story and the others shortlisted here. […]

  3. Very well done, everyone! And thanks to Simon & Tracey for the fun contest. 🙂

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thank you for your kind comments and it really was a great deal of fun to judge too – if a bit of hard work with so many to read.

      Well done on your placement in the final 9!

      The Team

  4. Well done, everyone!
    A fun competition that I also found useful as a way of brainstorming ideas for longer stories. Perhaps I’ll expand one of my 6-worders for your next competition. 🙂

  5. We look forward to receiving an entry from you in a future contest Linda!

    The Team

  6. Are you guys going to run one of these again? I use this as a warm up to writing with my year 8s here in NZ. Thought you’d like to know.

    1. Hi Toni,

      The MiniMOLPs were fun last year but we are focusing on MOLP, which is now open to entrants globally aged 16 or over (see for details)

      Hope you can spread the word down in NZ!

      Kind regards
      The Team

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