Tag Archives: three minute fiction

NPR and NPI- Tiny words.


I let a small opportunity slip through my fingers yesterday. I have mixed feelings about it.

On Valentine’s Day, National Public Radio announced their third annual Three Minute Fiction contest. Simple concept, really. Write a piece of fiction that can be read in three minutes or less. It seems like a cool idea, and well formatted for radio broadcast, where anything longer than three minutes is either a talk show or a classical music piece.

Basically, three minutes computes to about 600 words, according to their rules. Yesterday was the last day entries were being accepted, up until midnight. This gave all serious literary types two weeks to puzzle out a 600 word masterpiece, and shoot it off to NPR.

Now, I don’t listen to NPR. I have a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that listening to the news tends to make me angry. cranky and depressed; and I prefer listening to audio books when I’m in the car. I’m not the kind of person who needs noise filling up my space while at home, either, so it’s never left on a radio around my abode. I lived with someone once who did that.

I like silence.

My lack of listening to NPR meant that I had no idea this contest even existed until Friday, when a well-meaning client came in and told me she’d thought of me when she heard the broadcast about it. Aw, sweet, right? Yeah, it’s the thought that counts.

For this particular ’round’ of the contest, NPR decided to employ a visual prompt for its aspiring writers.

Oh! I thought, as soon as I saw the photo. That…might be…interesting…

And then my brain died.

Because, really? I think that is one of the least stimulating photographs I have ever seen. It looks like a weekly rag, left on a table by someone so bored by the content they didn’t even get to the end, in a nondescript coffee shop, in a nondescript city.

Still, I tried.

First, I started a story about a man who goes into the coffee shop, starts reading the paper, and finds an ad for a prostitute service with his daughter’s phone number on it.

Gag. I don’t want to write about that.

Then I started a story about a man who finds a memorial picture of himself in the paper, and meets Death, or maybe Satan. It felt like slogging through ankle-deep wet newspaper trying to write that, so I never got far enough to find out who the old man really was.

At that point I changed screens to work on my novel, swearing to myself I would get back to it on Sunday.

Which, obviously, I never did. I took a long walk, instead, and planned out three weeks worth of meals.

Much more satisfying.

On another note- This month starts the Novel Push Initiative, hosted this year by Nick Enlowe. A month-long challenge to get your manuscript out of a drawer and into your thoughts. Plus writing! 250+ words per day.

This is a great challenge for me, because, while I can easily pound out over 1,000 words on my off days, I have trouble getting anything written on the days I have full shifts. It always makes me feel really fulfilled when I get off my butt and DO it, though.

There are grace days, which you can earn by writing more than a thousand words on any given day, but I am going to make it a goal not to use any such laxness.




Like a pro.