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NPR's Three-Minute Fiction Contest

Alan Cheuse / photo by Josh Cheuse, 2008

Alan Cheuse / photo by Josh Cheuse, 2008

NPR has just announced its third Three-Minute Fiction Contest. This year, the judge will be writer and critic Alan Cheuse.

The challenge? Write a story about this photo that can be read out loud in under three minutes–that’s about 600 words.

Cheuse compares a good short story to a lyric poem — both forms pack the biggest emotional punch and the most information into the smallest possible space. “It’s a love affair, rather than a marriage,” he says. “Or maybe even a one-night stand compared to a love affair.”

He’ll be looking for entertainment as well as emotion in the stories you send us. “I want to get the sense of life that my old friend Bernard Malamud used to say about a short story,” Cheuse says. “He wanted a short story to do what he called ‘predicate’ a life, that is, give you everything about the life of the character that you need to know, in the same way a novel does.”

The winning story will be read on the air. For full details and to read last year’s winners and finalists, visit NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction page. And for more information, NPR host Guy Raz discusses this year’s contest with Mediabistro.

Also on FWR: A 2008 interview with Alan Cheuse by our Editor-in-Chief, Anne Stameshkin.

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