I don't live in America or the U.K. Can I still submit a story?

Of course! As long as your story is written in English, we’re not fussy about where you live.

Can I submit poetry inspired by the keywords, or a story in verse?

No. This is a prose fiction competition, and our jury is made up of prose fiction writers and editors, but we are thrilled that our keywords inspired some verse.

Can I submit an English translation of a story originally written in another language?

Yes, as long as: 1) you are either the author or the translator of the story, 2) both author and translator are in agreement over submission, shared credits, and anything resulting from the submission. It is advised to draw up a contract agreement between the author and the translator of a story, e.g. to agree on how to split the winnings should the story be selected as the winner. To ensure correct practice, we may ask to see a copy of such a contract before agreeing to publish the story on the website, should it be shortlisted.

Can I submit more than one story per quarter? What about simultaneous submissions?

Unless you are a member of Mash Club, you may only submit one story per quarter. “Simultaneous submissions” means that you can send your story to as many publications other than Mash Stories as you wish, but if it gets accepted elsewhere, please withdraw it. We cannot publish work that has been published someplace else. Members of the Mash Club can submit up to three stories per quarter.

May I use a pen name?

Yes you may. If your story is accepted, please let us know if the name you wish to display with your story is different than the name on your Submittable account.

Is it okay to use slang, or creative spellings to convey a dialect in dialog?

Of course! Our judges are writers, too, and they can tell the difference between errors and dialects. Feel free to let your characters speak.

Can a story submitted to Mash have more than one author?

Except for in cases where an author and a translator have worked in tandem (as mentioned in the FAQ above) and have both agreed to be named on the story, we feel it’s best to avoid stories with multiple authors. Issues with copyright, contracts and trust, not to mention publication and potential winnings of monetary value, make it all too complicated. So, no. We prefer submitted stories to be written by a sole author.

Under which conditions do you disqualify submissions?

We hate disqualifying stories because we know how hard it is to come up with them. That’s why we made the rules for Mash Competition as simple as possible.

  • Use all three keywords correctly in the body of the story.
  • Do not exceed 500 words – there’s no minimum.
  • Only submit one story per quarter (three for Mash Club members).

Please be sure to comply with these requirements, because they are the only things that will lead to the elimination of your submission before it’s read.

Using the Keywords

Do the keywords have to be used in the same sentence, or can they be used throughout my story?

Keywords can be used in any place in your story – whether within the same sentence or dispersed throughout. As long as they are used in exactly the form we’ve shown them, and are used logically and make good grammatical sense, you can use them however and wherever you wish.

Do the keywords have to be in the order that they appear on your website?

No. The order of the keywords is irrelevant.

Can I use suffixes and/or prefixes on a given keyword?

Unfortunately not. No variations of the keywords are accepted. Everything should remain the same, including plurals or tense suffixes. Please make sure that you use the words exactly as they are, as failure to do so will cause you to be disqualified.

If I use one or more keywords in the title of my story, does that count?

No. Your title can feature one or more keywords if you wish, but they must also appear in the story – if they don’t, your story will be disqualified.

Is it acceptable to capitalize a given keyword?

Yes, you can capitalize a keyword as long as you do not alter it. For example, if the keyword is ‘monkey,’ and you want to use it at the beginning of a sentence, or as a name, it’s absolutely fine.

Is it okay to use a given keyword in lower case?

Yes. If the keyword for that quarter is given as Bitcoin, and you want to use it as a currency (e.g. Here is a bitcoin for you.) then it should be lower case. However, if you need to use it as a technology (e.g. As a technology, Bitcoin is very new.), then it should start with an upper case letter.

What about if I just got one of the keywords wrong or missed one out?

Again, since this is only one of two rules that we hold strictly to, we’re afraid this is non-negotiable. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to read through your story to check the keywords are all present and correct – in fact, a read-through is recommended anyway!

500-word Limit

In the 500-word limit, are hyphenated words counted as separate words?

Hyphen usage can be tricky, and you should always refer to a good dictionary for guidance if necessary. Depending on your word processing software, hyphenated words may or may not be counted as one (MS Word counts all hyphenated words as one word). In the majority of cases, in a 500-word story you won’t have too many hyphens to worry about, but in the event your story is very close to the word limit, this is a valid question. Mash’s basic guideline is: where a hyphen joins a prefix to a word (e.g. ‘pre-eminent’), the words will count as one. In all other situations – apart from numbers (see below) – hyphenated words will count as two or more.

Are numbers counted as separate words?

No. Since most style guides will tell you to ‘write out in full numbers from one to ten, but after that, use numerals,’ whether you need to include the number 15, 150, or 1500, it will count as one word. Similarly, if you write numbers out in full and choose to hyphenate – e.g. ‘twenty-two’ – that will count as one word.


I submitted a story and in my Submittable account I see it as 'In Progress'. What does that mean?

“In Progress” means that your story has been assigned to our judges and it is being considered. Our judges do their best to address their stories quickly while doing justice to the work that went into creating them.

My story was disqualified. Can I fix the problem and resubmit?

No, but please send us something new next quarter. br />

The Shortlist

What is the shortlisting procedure like?

It’s very simple. Because we receive hundreds of submissions, all new stories are divided evenly between several teams of judges, all professional writers and editors. The judges read and consider your story carefully, and vote YES or NO. If you get a majority of YES votes, you get shortlisted. If not, don’t worry, you can try again next term!

What happens if I get shortlisted?

Being shortlisted means getting published on our website. This allows our writers to get exposure, be read, receive comments, and collect votes.

Am I at a disadvantage from being listed on the site later than others?

Not really. As we mentioned in the voting procedure the number of votes received alone is not enough to grant a story the winning position. It’s important to remember that the stories we shortlist earlier end up lower on our Shortlist page, as the new stories automatically get added on top. This system more or less evens things out. Besides, the date of submission is taken into account by the jury to ensure fairness. We reckon the only disadvantage you’ll end up having from being listed later is missing out on exposure. The earlier you send us a story, the earlier you can get shortlisted and take your place on the Mash website. This evidently means more readers, more votes, and more comments—which are taken in consideration by our jury—but none of these elements are sufficient to determine the winner by themselves.

What shall I write for my bio?

All biographies:

  • must be written in third person.
  • must be about you, not the story you submitted to us.
  • must not exceed 5 sentences.

All author photos must be headshots. Because they will be displayed as a thumbnail, we cannot fit full-length photos or family pictures in the space. Please browse our currently shortlisted writers to get an idea of what to write in your bio.

Live on Mash

How can I get notified when someone comments on my story?

Writers are strongly encouraged to interact with their readers and reply to comments. Anyone can sign up to receive email notifications when they receive a comment on their story, or get a reply to their comment anywhere on our website. In order to sign up for comments, follow these instructions:

  • scroll down the page/story you’re interested in receiving comments for,
  • find the Disqus discussion board,
  • click the Subscribe button at the bottom of the comment box only once and put in your email address. If you click twice you’ll automatically un-enroll.

Subscribe to comments and replies

I’m in the Mash Club and my story was shortlisted. How do I know when my story will be added to Mash podcast?

You don’t. To keep the tension high shortlisted stories are broadcast in the Mash podcast in random order. You’ll just have to keep your ears open for our podcast. A new story gets broadcast every Sunday.

Choosing the Winner

What sort of things do the jury members take into consideration when choosing the winner?

When it comes to selecting the winner, the members of the jury examine each shortlisted story closely and evaluate the author’s skills in depth. Each judge scores each story on each of four criteria: plot, character/voice, language, and theme. All voting is anonymous. The story with the highest overall score wins. Overall, the Mash jury aims to invest in promising writers as well as skillfully crafted stories.

Can I see how the winner was chosen?

Sure. We’re an open democracy here. We are happy to provide any information that would help you to improve your writing skills and be the next winner! Click here to see how our previous winning stories were selected out of all shortlisted stories.

Workings of Mash

How does Mash Stories work?

Mash Stories is a new flash fiction competition with a community soul. We’re here to spot new talents, support them and encourage them to make their voices heard. We like innovative ideas, but we are not keen on too many rules. It runs 4 times a year and it never closes. When one quarter ends, another starts the same day. Our shortlisted stories do not only aim at random readers, they also set the standards of our competition and stand as a model for prospective writers who are considering submitting a story to Mash. The stories we shortlist can tell you what we’re all about.

Why does Mash Stories work on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis?

There are several reasons:

  1. Exposure. As a community addicted to short stories, our first goal is to promote gifted writers. Talent should be read, admired, respected; not locked up in computer files. When we shortlist a well-written story, we want everyone visiting our website to read it and tell their friends about it.
  2. Enthusiasm. Mash Stories is a quarterly competition which never ends. As soon as we close one term, the next one begins the same day. So, we read stories all year round. And we want to share this pleasure with our visitors. Why should our visitors and your readers wait months and then get bombarded with numerous stories in one go? Instead, we offer bite-sized pleasure as and when we find great stories.
  3. Impatience. Let’s put it this way: if you are a brilliant writer who submitted a dazzling story the day after a new quarter begins, how fair would it be if we asked you to wait months just so that we can read all the other submissions—especially when we’ve read, loved, and decided to shortlist your story. If you think this is fair, then Mash Stories is not for you! We’re a rather impatient bunch here. We love getting things done. We love moving fast.

Why am I asked to provide so much information when I submit my story?

Because at Mash, we’re headhunting. We are not after creating a quarterly shortlist – what purpose would that serve? We’re after talent. We want to discover the next JK, and get promising writers published! We want to be the first place that a writer at the beginning of his or her career comes to. This is the direction Mash Stories will go. In the future we will have publishing partners, which will consider Mash writers, as we’ll be known for picking up the best of the best. Therefore, we require a short bio of around 100 words, detailing: – a little general information about you as a writer, – your motivation for writing, – a short description of your writing experience and development, – your future goals and ambitions. Where applicable, you can also include the following information: – previous publications, – prizes, – associations with journals or other competitions, – your website or blog, – any social media accounts, – all memberships to book groups or writers’ groups.

How does the voting mechanism work?

Mash Stories was influenced by the political set-up of Switzerland, where citizens vote dozens of times each year, directly sharing their personal opinions on local and national issues. It’s the same sense of ‘distribution of power’ that made Mash Stories get involved with Bitcoin—a digital currency which is not run by any government, not associated with a nation, yet still can be converted to any other currency such as dollars, euros, pounds, etc. The Mash team hates authority, and deeply believes in collaboration. That’s why each submission gets shortlisted only if it has the majority of votes. It is for this same reason that we’d like to see what our—or, your—readers say about your story. This is why we monitor votes. Although our jury takes the number of votes received by each story into consideration when choosing the winning story, the number of votes alone does not designate the winner.

votes ≠ winning
  It’s okay to ask your friends and family to vote for you. You’re encouraged to spread the word about your shortlisted story and ask for support. But asking someone—or hiring a person—to vote for you from different computers is a no-no. We value reader opinions, not innovative cheating methods. We monitor our website closely and any such attempts are guaranteed to disqualify writers, cause us to remove their submissions from our website and other correlated publications. We also maintain the right to withdraw any monetary award if such methods are discovered to be at play.