June 21, 2009

Call for Submissions: NPR Three-Minute Fiction Contest

NPR is running a flash fiction contest for the summer. The maximum length is 600 words — a story that can be read aloud in at most three minutes. You do sign over perpetual (non-exclusive) rights to your work, which I know will be a deal-killer for some. Must be 18 or over to enter.

The challenge: send in an original short story “that can be read in three minutes or less”

Entry fee: none

Prize: check the website for details, but the prize includes an autographed copy of James Wood’s How Fiction Works and major writing cred

Deadline: 7/18/2009



March 16, 2009

Writing Exercise: Flashprompt: “Dot”

The exercise: use a random word as the prompt for a prose piece from 100-300 words long. The word for this exercise: “dot.”

The story (if one can call it that) below is completely fictional.


I’d assumed it was short for Dorothy; I was wrong. She had two brothers, Bob and Bill. Not Robert and William.

Dot wrote in the George Bernard Shaw way, using no apostrophes in her contractions: didnt, youre. She wasn’t a bookworm, and didn’t know who Shaw was until I told her. She read half of Man and Superman, then gave him up. If she was going to read, she preferred nonfiction.

On our fifth date, she invited me to her apartment for coffee. Her home was tidily cluttered, if you know what I mean; there was too much stuff, but everything had its place and a reason to be there.

As she was grinding the coffee beans, I kissed her from behind and tried to slip a hand under her blouse. She gently pushed it away.

“People think they want sex,” she said, “when they really want intimacy. It takes time to know someone.”

I cut the visit short, and the relationship, but we remained friends. I introduced her to my cousin Richard (not Rich, or Rick, or Dick), an English professor who wrote his thesis on Shaw’s language reforms. I was best man at their wedding, and now they’re expecting their first child.

The argument over baby names threatens to end their marriage.

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