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Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest

2021 Winners

This was the first time we've hosted this contest separately from the Tadpole Press Writing Retreat. Because we weren't quite ready to host an in-person retreat this year due to the pandemic, we opened up this fun little writing competition to everyone.

And what an amazing turnout we had! We received over 500 entries from 33 different countries.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who participated! Do you know what you just did? You created magic. You used finite resources—a mere 100 words—to make abundance, to show us "a World in a Grain of Sand," to make us feel like anything is possible. What a beautiful gift. We are honored.


Because we received so many extraordinary entries, the judging process was much harder than we'd expected. However, we are delighted to have selected the following entries as winners of this year's contest:

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First Place: $1,000 USD goes to Benedetta Bambagioni from the Netherlands.


Today is Edna’s birthday. There are two things she always does on her birthday: bake apple pie and dance. 

However, at the local market, someone buys the last apples just before her eyes. “Enjoy the apples, Fred!” shouts the vendor. 

Driving back home, singing along to Dean Martin, Edna’s tire goes flat. “My lucky day!” she rejoices. 

With the radio still singing, she pulls over to encourage the deflated tire. 

A man approaches. One hand extended, and in the other, a bag of apples. “Care to dance, miss?” 

Edna smiles, beaming at those apples. “Certainly, Fred.” 


So they dance.

Second Place: $450 writing coaching package goes to Ryan McIntyre from New Zealand.


You’ll laugh, but I swore I’d never have kids. 


Jack was born a perfect, hairless little potato, with tiny fingers like inquisitive worms and eyes like deep lakes. 


He offered a second chance; to be surprised, and delighted, and inspired by the infinite weirdness of life. 


The eye-squinting, face-crunching sourness of lemon. 


The fuzziness of moss on the neighbour's crooked wooden fence. 


The deep, feel-it-in-your-belly rumble of thunder. 


The earthy smell of dirt after spring rain. 


Bootprints in snow, footprints in sand. 


Bare toes skimming freshly clipped grass, and kicking fallen leaves. 


I saw the world for the first time.


Third Place: $250 developmental or diversity editing package goes to Lauren Johnson from Scotland.


On Friday, my favourite patient died. Old Bill Wyatt succumbed at last to cancer.


As wind whistled past lead-paned windows, I’d held the wizened hand that rested on the counterpane.


His final words-

“Follow the blackbirds.”


I cycled home through descending twilight, dashing away tears.


Atop the crossroads sign, a blackbird sat twinkling black eyes at me. Unthinking, I followed. Through darkening woods until …


Leaves crunched underfoot. Enormous blackberries, elderberries and scarlet rosehips. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, an abundance of rowan and holly. Triumphant white bindweed, the scent of honeysuckle and woodsmoke. I pirouetted, rich indeed.


The blackbird began to sing.


Congratulations, Benedetta, Ryan, and Lauren! And congratulations to everyone who dared to dream and created a little bit of abundance in this world. You matter. Your dreams matter. Keep writing.

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Curious how you can create a winning entry? Request feedback on your entry and we'll tell you what we love about your piece as well as ways to make it even better.

You get tips right from the source custom-tailored to meet our judges' expectations, help you hone your craft, and create the kind of entry that's selected as a winner in the Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest.

Thank You

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has dared to dream and share your words, story, and heart with us. You matter. Your dreams matter. Keep writing.

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