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Literary Vending Machines

August 18th, 2017

First, thanks to Elise for last week’s blog. It just goes to show how different writing for film or TV can be from writing a novel. In the former, you have to be able to produce something visual for your audience whereas when writing a novel you are providing the structure and the ideas which will allow your readers to use their own imagination to understand and visualise your story.

I read an interesting piece this week in Writing Magazine about vending machines having been installed on 35 French railway stations. But these aren’t your standard machines offering drinks, sweets and crisps – instead they provide short stories. If you get to the station and have forgotten your book, or don’t want to fiddle with your mobile phone, you can press a button and print out a story. And you’ve even got a choice of length – do you want a one minute read, a three minute read of a five minute read? (Don’t worry, if you’re train is delayed you can always go back for another as they’re free!)

There are 5000 to go at, so it should take quite a while to work your way through all of them. And in addition to short stories for adults there are ones to keep the children happy and even poetry.

I think it’s a terrific idea but wonder what the quality of the stories is like as they are submitted by anonymous authors. I can just imagine a picky French commuter with a frown on his face as he reads his three-minute story, screws it up into a ball and tosses it over his shoulder with a heartfelt “Merdre!”

Joking apart, most of the reports on this were back in October of last year following a trial run in Grenoble. I’ve just been looking for an update but I don’t seem to be able to find anything. I hope that’s because everything is running smoothly and not because a wider roll-out never took off.

Our Limerick Competition has now come to an end and, after a hilarious and difficult judging session, we have chosen the winners. We hope to announce their names and have their limericks on our website within the next couple of weeks – I’m sure they’ll make you smile. Then, at the beginning of September we’ll be accepting entries for our 2017 Short Story Competition –  so keep checking our website for details.

As we have no competition running at the moment, I thought you might be interested in The Bare Fiction Prize 2017 – as it ticks all the boxes: short story, flash fiction and poetry. There are prizes of £500, £300 and £ 100 plus two £25-runners up in each category. Plus winning entries will be published on their website and in the Spring 2018 edition of The Bare Fiction magazine. The entry fees are £5 for poems, £6 for flash fiction, £8 for short stories and the closing date is 31st October; so you’ve still got plenty of time to enter.

My guest next week is Christine Griffin who has had success in local, national and international competitions – she’s even read her work at the prestigious Cheltenham Literary Festival. She’ll be explaining why it might be best to just capitulate when your characters assert their independence!

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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