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NPR's new short fiction contest is on

January 17, 2011 |  8:26 am

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NPR announced the latest in its Three Minute Fiction contest on Sunday. Launched in 2009, the intermittent contest invites listeners to write stories of fewer than 600 words, which can be read in about three minutes.

The initial round was wide open, with no guidelines but a word-count limit. Later rounds provided a first line -- "Some people swore that the house was haunted," "The nurse left work at 5 o'clock" -- from which the stories must be built.

This time around, in the sixth iteration of the contest, things are getting even more specific. A story must include a) a joke and b) someone crying (the joke teller can be the one who cries, but it's not necessary).

NPR's sixth Three Minute Fiction contest will be judged by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of "Half a Yellow Sun" and "The Thing Around Your Neck," who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009.

"I am interested in character and in emotion," Adichie told NPR's Guy Raz. "I think that's really for me, what fiction is about, and I think the ability to cry and the ability to laugh, for me, is in some ways what defines humanity."

Faculty and students from NYU's graduate program in creative writing will help sort through the entries. Round 5 had more than 5,000 entries. Submissions are due Jan. 23.

ALSO:

Will inspiration for short fiction strike?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: numb3r via Flickr

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