‘Write 10, Win 10’ 2021

A huge thank you to everyone who submitted to our inaugural micro competition. We received 116 entries and thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them. Entries were read anonymously by a panel of four judges.

We were treated to an inspiring mix of discoveries: everything from witches, treasure hunters, weddings, gods and new books to space, presents, mirrors, moons and murderers.

After many hours of deliberation, we are delighted to reveal that the winner is Rebecca Kinnarney. Rebecca’s story stood out for its humour, clever construction and inventive take on the theme.

The following writers made the shortlist: Laura Besley, Mandira Pattnaik, William Davis, Jessica Klimesh, Ruth Callaghan do Valle, Susy Churchill, Linda Sejung Park, Rita Lazaro and Gunnar De Winter. They all managed to tell a full story in ten words, hiding layers of meaning beneath the surface.

You can read our 10 selected stories below.


WINNER (£10)

10th January. One mince pie left. It must be love.

Rebecca Kinnarney


SHORTLIST

Letters unearthed. “Dad’s dead, you said.” “Sorry, love” Mum whispered.

Laura Besley


Childhood friend. Shared bed, dreams. Got married. Discovered a stranger.

Mandira Pattnaik


we sailed amongst the unnamed latitudes trading words for home

William Davis


Fumble for glasses, lamp. Open door to crickets singing summer.

Jessica Klimesh


Explorar: Explore / Exploit – An isthmus in ink – In Brazil landlessness

Ruth Callaghan do Valle


He emptied drawers, dispatched belongings. Every space revealed her face.

Susy Churchill


In bulging bags of homemade food, I found her heart.

Linda Sejung Park


Blue Light. Human gone. Empty bowl. Cat affronted. Now alone.

Rita Lazaro


“Look,” said grandfather, “endless worlds await.” He opened the book.

Gunnar De Winter


Judges’ notes:

  • The quality was exceptionally high. From our longlist of 30, we had a hard time getting down to a shortlist of 10.
  • The winner and shortlisted entries all told a story. It didn’t matter whether this was a grand tale of adventure or a tiny snapshot of a moment; each one narrated a full story in 10 words.
  • The best stories adhered closely to the theme, but perhaps approached ‘discovery’ from a less obvious angle.
  • It was important not to waste any words. Some promising stories that made the longlist were dropped on the basis of a single word that felt forced or out of place.
  • Clever use of punctuation made some stories stand out. Breaking up the 10 words allowed them to go further.

‘The Burning Chambers’ by Kate Mosse


Gripping plot. Fast-paced action. Lifelike characters. So what’s missing?

The Burning Chambers is an epic adventure that takes the reader to the heart of sixteenth-century France, a country in turmoil amidst the bloody Wars of Religion. Set primarily across three southern cities — Carcassonne, Toulouse and Puivert — the historical backdrop is painted vividly, showcasing the author’s extensive historical research and interest in her subject.

Mosse manages to convey the fear and uncertainty of a country ravaged by years of infighting by creating believable characters that bring the history to life. Particularly strong are her portraits of Vidal, a power-hungry Catholic priest, and his deranged mistress, Lady Bruyère.

At times, however, these characters can tip over into types. The formulaic, rather predictable plot is constructed along starkly divided oppositional lines and each character is included to fill a particular role. Moreover, in the closing scenes, Mosse relies a little too readily on unlikely coincidences to advance the plot to its dramatic denouement. This diminishes some of the vraisemblance she had earlier developed.

If I may allow myself to offer a piece of writing advice to an international bestselling author whose novels have been translated into thirty-seven languages, it is that she often overuses rhetorical questions. This becomes more noticeable as the story progresses. Presumably, Mosse’s intention in doing so is to increase the suspense, but this is not the effect: the constant questions frustrate the reader and slow our progress.

It is this sort of contrived technique that raises our awareness of the book’s formulaic structure and ultimately stops the reader from fully engaging with the text. Of course, all books are artificially constructed, but the best ones are those that are able to hide this and make you forget you are reading. The Burning Chambers doesn’t achieve this because the plot follows a predictable pattern and is engineered to progress through a series of unbelievable coincidences.

Despite these minor grievances, The Burning Chambers is a lively and addictive historical novel. It won’t be your book of the year, but is well worth a read.

Submit to Briefly Zine

Briefly Zine is a literary journal seeking bold, succinct writing. We publish writers from the UK and around the world.

We read submissions all year round and publish quarterly. Upcoming issues will be released in June, September and December 2021.

We’re looking for:

Writing that blurs genres (prose poems, poetic prose, etc.) is welcome.


BRIEFLY RIGHT:

  1. Submit up to three pieces of your best brief writing
  2. Paste your work into the body of an email and send it to submissions@brieflywrite.com
  3. Include a short third-person bio (under 50 words). Please don’t feel under any pressure with this – we select submissions for their literary merit, not the publication history of the author!
  4. Please only submit previously unpublished work, i.e. nothing that has appeared in print or online (including on a personal website or social media)
  5. Simultaneous submissions are okay, but do make sure you let us know if your work is accepted elsewhere
  6. Please wait for our reply before sending us more work. If we publish your writing, please wait at least one issue before submitting again!

BRIEFLY WRONG:

  1. We will not publish writing that is sexist, racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist
  2. We are unlikely to be interested in gratuitous sex or violence

Our response time can be anywhere up to two months. If you haven’t heard back after six weeks, feel free to send us a gentle nudge to check we received your submission.

There is no submission fee. There will never be a submission fee. Stories belong to everyone and financial barriers should not stop people sharing theirs.

That said, there are costs involved in running a literary journal. If you would like to support our work, please consider supporting our work.

By submitting to Briefly Zine, you are granting us first electronic rights. Copyright reverts to the author upon publication.


NEW: Expedited Response

For the price of two coffees, we will reply within three days and provide brief comments on your poems or stories. See more here.


NEW: Photography Submissions

We are now seeking photography submissions for Issue 6.

Please send up to 3 images (attached as JPEG files) in an email to submissions@brieflywrite.com

All work must be your own. We are looking for original and unpublished photographs only.

We want creative, thoughtful and thought-provoking images. Photos of people or pets are unlikely to be accepted. Any images that discriminate against a particular group will not be considered.

In the body of your email, please include a short third-person bio. You can also add links to your website/social media, which we would be happy to promote.

We respond to photography submissions within two months, probably sooner. If you haven’t heard back after this time, please contact us to check your email hasn’t gone astray.

Unfortunately, we cannot pay contributors at this time. We will, however, promote you and your work through social media.

You retain the rights to your image(s).

Photo by Marcelo Moreira

‘The House at the End of Hope Street’ by Menna van Praag


Living rent-free in Cambridge for 99 days really would be magical.

Menna van Praag’s debut novel is an easy read: a heart-warming story about three dejected women who find hope in a magical house.

But the plot is far more nuanced than it might first seem. The various narrative strands are intricate and are interwoven effectively through regularly shifting viewpoints. Moreover, the characters are all vivid and complex, which makes their actions and reactions believable.

The fantastical elements are successfully integrated into the story. This is particularly the case with Alba’s ability to see the colours of words, a lovely idea that allows van Praag to paint some beautiful dialogue scenes.

Peggy, the “Fairy Godmother” of Hope Street, is an interesting character. Her personal intrigue highlights how those who devote their lives to others are at times the ones most in need of a helping hand.

The only thing that tempered my enjoyment of the novel was the number of typographical errors it contained. For a book that celebrates the beauty of writing, I found that the style didn’t always live up to these high aspirations. In fairness, this became less of an issue as the story progressed, which is testament to the powerful narratives.

This charming tale is surprisingly compelling. A much-needed distraction in dark times.