Last week, National Public Radio commenced a monthlong microfiction contest, seeking out prose that, in the words of judge James Wood, "strikes at the very heart of the short story as a project, which is to get something going rapidly." Writers are asked to submit original fictional stories that can be read in less than three minutes, with a length limit of six hundred words.
While no monetary prize is offered, Wood, a literary critic for the New Yorker and author of numerous essays on fiction, will read his favorite works on air throughout the summer, and one writer will be interviewed on a weekend edition of All Things Considered. The winning selections will also be posted on the NPR Web site.
Pointing to authors such as Anton Chekov and Lydia Davis as masters of the form, Wood offers some words of advice to writers of tiny tales: "One of the most effective ways to get a very short story vivid is to think in terms of voice," he says on the NPR Web site. "I'm going to be looking at a writer's ability to suggest a world, rather than to fill it in and dot every i."
Works can be submitted via the NPR Web site until July 18. As of Sunday, the contest had received thirteen hundred entries.