Editors’ Blog

Call for Submissions: NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction Contest

Friday, June 26th, 2009

By Chris Teja

While we usually aim to post calls for submissions for non-fiction stories from the everyday lives of our readers (…it’s kind of our thing), we sometimes have to show some love to the fiction writers out there reading SMITHNational Public Radio is currently accepting stories for their annual Three-Minute Fiction Contest. Up until 11:59pm in July 18th, NPR will be accepting original fictional stories of up to 600 words.

One winner will have their story read on-air during Weekend All Things Considered where they will also be interviewed. And as an added bonus they’ll get an autographed copy of “How Fiction Works” -a must have for any aspiring fiction writer. The complete detailed contest rules are available on npr.org.

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2 responses

  1. Stephen Eric Berry says:

    Re: “Three-Minute Fiction” Contest

    Visitors to this site may be interested in reading my letter about the “Three-Minute Fiction” contest, sponsored by NPR and judged by James Wood. This letter was submitted to the ombudsman at NPR this morning (June 26, 2009).

    Dear NPR:

    Recently I considered submitting my work to your “Three Minute Fiction” contest. I thought you might like to hear the reasons why my attorney strongly advised me against doing so.

    First, submission of work to the contest vacates the heart of the rights I currently enjoy under copyright law for work that is registered at the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. In fact, no parts of the agreement (”Three-Minute Fiction Contest Official Rules”) are salvageable or negotiable, since the core of the release is to agree that your firm may create work that is “identical” to, but “independent” from, my submission. Those two concepts are mutually exclusive.

    Secondly, my attorney advises me that the arbitration portion of the release form is unacceptable, given that it assigns an unreasonable dollar value to my work for the purposes of suppressing damages that may be owed to me as a result of some future litigation with your company.

    All of this leaves me with a sense of sadness about NPR’s decision to include such egregious provisions in a release form clearly designed to encourage undiscovered writers to submit their work and receive national recognition.

    On a more personal note, it seems insulting and condescending to all writers to “award” the winner with a how-to book on writing, itself written by the judge of the contest itself.

    I do not believe it is responsible for NPR to encourage authors–who may not fully understand the implications of your contest release provisions–to sign away essential copyright protections in return for being interviewed on “All Things Considered.”

    I would like to call on NPR to immediately suspend the contest or issue an apology and revised contest rules. Please note that I will also be contacting the office of Mr. James Wood at The New Yorker with a similar request.

    Regretfully yours,

    Stephen Eric Berry
    Ann Arbor, MI

  2. Jane says:

    Whoa. Well done. I would like to hire you to write all my letters of grievance. Jane

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