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Can YOU write a better story than Jeffrey Archer?  

When it comes to writing stories, Jeffrey Archer knows a thing or two – he’s produced a string of novels that have sold an astonishing 300 million copies around the world.

And now he has issued a remarkable challenge to Mail on Sunday readers – to beat him at his own game. The author has published a new collection of short stories, Tell Tale, which includes a tale of just 100 words – and he wants readers to equal or beat his effort.

The writer of the best entry, which will be selected by Lord Archer, will receive £250 in book tokens. And the top ten best entries will be published in The Mail on Sunday.

Jeffery Archer will decide on the best entry in this competition where the winner will receive £250 in book tokens for their 100-word story

Lord Archer, whose first novel, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, was published in 1976, hopes the competition will appeal to anyone who considers themselves a budding writer.

He said: ‘Many people think they can write a book. Many would like to write a book. I am saying write a 100-word story and see if you can beat me. I think it is true that if you can do a 100-word story you can do more.’



Paris, March 14th, 1921. The collector relit his cigar, picked up the magnifying glass and studied the triangular 1874 Cape of Good Hope.

‘I did warn you there were two,’ said the dealer, ‘so yours is not unique.’

‘How much?’

‘Ten thousand francs.’

The collector wrote out a cheque, before taking a puff on his cigar, but it was no longer alight. He picked up a match, struck it, and set light to the stamp.

The dealer stared in disbelief as the stamp went up in smoke.

The collector smiled. ‘You were wrong, my friend,’ he said, ‘mine is unique.’

Archer warned that the task is not as simple as it seems. But he offered some tips for readers after the experience of writing his own 100-word story, called Unique.

He said: ‘It took three or four hours to think of the idea of my story with its beginning, middle and end.’

After hitting on the basic idea Archer then turned his attention to the title. He said: ‘That is vital. If you have the correct title you are telling the reader something immediately.’

The next step was to keep continually reworking the piece until he ended up with exactly 100 words.

‘I got up at six at the morning and started work. The first draft was 116 words. The second was 104. The third was 98 words. Then I had to work out which two words to put back in.

‘However long your first draft is, you have to start pruning.

‘Economy of language is vital and every single word counts. You have got to get rid of words that are not needed.

‘I wrestled with it and I had it double spaced so I could look at each and every word.’


TO ENTER, send your work to or write to 100-Word Short Story, The Mail on Sunday, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS. Entries must be received by midnight on Friday, November 17. Entries must run to exactly 100 words, excluding the title. The top ten stories will be published in The Mail on Sunday and the winner will receive £250 in book tokens.