Three Minute Fiction Rejects

Non-Selected Writings from the 4th NPR Three Minute Fiction Contest 2010


Control, by Bruce Rogowski

Trick. Button. Plant. Fly.

The Uniform, by Linda F. Willing

Li'l Megan and the Squirrel, by Frank Yacenda

Sunday Supper by JW Mark

She Stood in Front of the Podium, by Scott

The Old House and the Hallway, by Bobby Woods

The Trick, by Ron

Sorry by Marcia Cipriani

Like This, by J. M. Linton

The Special Place, by Zephyr Jaquish, age 10

The Acrostic Avenger, by Bryan Perkins

Trick or Treat, by Paula Kiger

Inside Out by Charla Minch

The Consultant, by Kenneth Wajda

A Peanut Butter and Jelly before Flying by James W. Crissman

The Sad Man Episodes, 1 & 2 (a non-selected entry to the THIRD NPR Three Minute Fiction Contest) Plus other visuals - Watch the video after the Peruvian boy in orange.

Please email your comments.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ QUESTIONS

What do you think of our "Reject" stories posted here?

Some fine stories!
I loved the the sharp jolt wrapped in a warm reminiscence of 'Control'. The macabre whimsy of 'C o l l e c t i n g A l l t h e S p e c i e s' made me smile and then laugh. The gravity of both 'Sorry' and 'Like This' was palpably touching. And the hazy dreamlike fantasy of 'The Old House and the Hallway' was well crafted.

"I Only Gong Wit Manely Men" was great! The character was smitten and so was I.
"Control" described so well a person who has a "knack" working their sphere of influence. I had to make myself slow down as I was reading it to better absorb and enjoy my first read, and I was already describing it as wonderful until its terrible, beautiful ending. I really admire the author's ability to describe a person so realistically, by observation. And the willingness to just let the moment stop and be itself, and not add more to get a happy ending.
It is very good writing, but more importantly a very good story.

"Sorry" struck a chord with me because so much of it was right out of my life. You don't know what you've got until you've ruined it.

"The Special Place" by Zephyr J is a darn good entry by a young author and deserves a good read. The simple language reveals both innocence and wisdom. Keep writing, Z.

What did you think of the contest and the winning story?

No sour grapes at all, but most of those stories posted by NPR were pretty good, but that winner was a HUGE let down.

This is my first time participating in the NPR Three Minute Fiction contest. It seems like quite a few people disagree with Ann Patchett's choice for the winning story. I notice some people are even posting their entire stories in the comments section. What's your take on this? I thought the winning story was good, but so were many others. While Patchett made the ultimate decision, she was only working with the 200 or so stories she was given to read by the Iowa Writers' Workshop folks -- so they may have weeded out stories that Patchett herself may have liked better. I know she couldn't be expected to read all 4,000 submissions, and I'm not sure what the solution is. I know you are doing a great thing by offering a place to publish "losing" stories. I hope more people submit to your site.

I thought the winner was well written but of no significance.
Listening to Ann Patchett read it on the radio, I had trouble comprehending it, partly because a woman was reading a man's part, it took a while for me to catch on -- I think "Fire Island" clued me in -- and the wording was unusual enough that it required some deciphering. It was a better read. I was also a little shocked to have "turning tricks for you" read into unsuspecting kitchens across the country. A little warning would have been proper. Sometimes NPR just shoots itself in the foot.

But on the relatively few stories they publish, considering the crush of 4,000 entries, I guess I can't fault them too much. They go to some trouble to format the stories, track down stock photographs, add gratuitous comments, and so forth, so I can understand that to put up any more than 20 is probably not going to happen. I think they probably have a bunch of people reading, and if one story appeals to that reader, it gets put in the "maybe put it up on the web site" pile, and otherwise it gets tossed into the "never more to be seen nor heard from" pile, and I doubt they have any more runners-up than actually appear.

There are only so many stories I can motivate myself to read, anyway, before having to move on to something else. But I think we are in agreement that the winning entry would not have been our choice for 1st place, though isn't that often the case in contests, of whatever ilk?

I thought the winner had a great feel for language, but not much
of a feel for story. And I wondered about how PC the judge was being. I mean,
would it had won if the couple had been a white bread hetero couple in Moline?

Was there a story among the favorites at that you thought was better than the winning story?

My favorite among the "favorites" was "The Old Man and the Fern". I liked the mystery, its poignant meaning and the all too ordinary tragic setting. I also liked the one at the bottom of the list BTW... about a guy urging his kids to enjoy time with each other because he's going to jail and can't be there for them.

Comments on this page:

It was great to have a place to put our stories! I enjoyed the challenge of the three minute fiction project.

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