What’s Your Story? I Know You’ve Got One: The 20 Minute Story Challenge

You've got 20 minutes to write a story. Grammar snobs need not apply....
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You've got 20 minutes to write a story. Grammar snobs need not apply....


Short Order Writers Wanted. Must Be Willing To Write For 20 Minutes. No Grammar Snobs Need Apply.

These are the tag lines to the 20 Minute Story Blog - outside of that there are no rules or requirements.

I started the blog after looking around the internet for an online writing group that I hoped would provide me with the discipline to write at least semi-regularly, in the hope that I might one day start that novel that we all think we have in us. For the record, I think I’ve got at least two. I’m probably wrong though. Admittedly, I didn’t look very hard but the endless registering requirements, login procedures and general air of formality I found accompanying internet writing groups put me off joining one.

Just writing on my own hadn’t proved very successful in the past so what were the alternatives? I was going to email a mate of mine who has published a book, fellow Sabotage Times contributor, Russ Litten (he’s got another one out soon too, Swear Down, the bastard!) for advice when I spotted the Blogger icon on the Gmail page. Twenty minutes later, I’d registered a blog. Taking my cues from a writing exercise in which you write for 15 minutes then stop, I decided to extend it to 20 minutes, because I’m slow at typing, and I had my blog title.

The first story I put up was a pretty straight run of a scene I’d been part of whilst working as a handyman in an upscale New York apartment house. If you’re interested, it’s here.


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Feeling a bit pleased with myself, I emailed five people I thought might be interested in reading it. My next thought was that it would be good to have a little informal writing group of our own. The response I got was fantastic, a total surprise. In the first week we’d posted 20 stories, contributions coming in from Russ, Rich Cussworth, Martin C – who is so mysterious, he has no truck with titles for his stories and we daren’t use his full name – and his mate Dom, who he roped in and who has, for me anyway, written the best one yet, the brilliant Waiting For Mrs O’Brien To Die.

By the end of December we had 37 stories, with Matt Harding, James Brown, Owen and Dave Blackhurst all having a go, or two. If that all sounds a bit incestuous rest assured that the blog has grown quite a bit since then. We are now getting stories sent in from people who’ve simply stumbled across the blog and thought, ‘I can do that.’ And that’s the thing. You can, anyone can. We’ve grown up thinking there’s only one way to write and that writing is a rule based thing. Well bollocks to that. If you’ve a good story to tell, and most people do, they just lack the confidence to tell it, grammar’s not important, spelling’s not important; the story is all that’s important.

After two short months we are coming up on 10,000 page views with readers across the globe (53 views from Indonesia!); just over 100 stories and scores of people having a go at writing something.

Have a read – 2o Min Story

Write something then email it here - 20minstory@gmail.com

Then follow on Twitter @20minstory