The History of 81 Words Flash Fiction Anthology

81words.net was a flash fiction website started by Adam Rubinstein, a self-professed “educational basket-case from the 70s” who says he finds his sense of meaning and well-being through creativity.

In Adam’s own words:

“A long time ago, a few years after wasting most of my time at school, I entered a competition to write a story in fifty words. There were options for five different genres and each had a different paragraph given as the starting point. I didn’t win but really enjoyed the challenge of carefully crafting words to create a beautiful jewel. Something perfect and complete in itself. The experience stayed with me and I thought it might be something lots of us could enjoy. An opportunity to be creative in an accessible way that isn’t too demanding on our timw. So 81words was born.”

Adam Rubinstein, founder of 81words.net

Why 81words Is now part of www.christopherfielden.com

Chris Fielden first became aware of 81words when Adam contacted him in January 2015 asking if his website could be added to Chris’s lists of short story and flash fiction competitions.

After creating the listing, Chris decided to have a go at the 81word challenge himself and submitted a story. It was called Love is Difficult for Zombies.

The 81 word story only took him about thirty minutes to write. He submitted it straight away and it was published within ten minutes. He used this as a case study, to illustrate how quickly you could become a published writer by using flash fiction sites like 81words – achievable, even if you were the busiest person on the planet.

In April 2017 Adam contacted Chris again. He was developing a new project called Fretmeister, which was working really well. This meant he didn’t have time to give 81words the attention it needed. However, although Adam didn’t have time to run 81words, he thought it would be a shame if it just disappeared as it had a lot of active users. He asked Chris if he’d like to take it on. He agreed.

If the traffic levels were high enough, Chris planned to monetise the site using Google AdSense, so the ongoing running costs (domain, hosting, updates etc) were covered. That would mean users could carry on enjoying the site for free.

Unfortunately, with low traffic levels, this option wasn’t financially viable, so Chris made the decision to redirect the site to his own webpage, and https://www.christopherfielden.com/ became 81words’ new home. Chris then opened the 81words Writing Challenge, which meant users could still try the writing challenge out for free and see their work published

Eventually, 81words grew so large that it was decided that a book should be produced. Not just any old anthology though, this was would be an unofficial world record-breaker.

1,000 Stories by 1,000 Authors

Profits from sales of this book go to the Arkbound Foundation a charity that aims to widen access to literature and improve diversity within publishing by running projects that empower people from disadvantaged backgrounds and deprived communities to get their voices heard.

The 81 Words Flash Fiction Anthology contains 1,000 stories written by 1,000 authors who submitted their work to the 81 Words Writing Challenge run on Chris Fielden’s website. Each story is exactly 81 words in length.

Christopher Fielden, author.

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