Alternarratives: call for ideas

www.nesta.org.uk/project/alternarratives/alternarratives-call-ideas/
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About Alternarratives

Nesta wants to unearth the future of cutting edge short-form storytelling, encouraging writers based in the UK to think beyond the word document and use all the tools we have at our disposal to tell stories in new and exciting ways.

In its pilot year, the prize will encourage storytellers to imagine how short-form storytelling could help re-engage young people at secondary school, aged 11-16, with the act of reading for pleasure.

There was no further brief. This was a call for bold, creative ideas that explore new ways to tell a story and push the boundary of how we consume literature. Proposals were submitted for work that can be experienced in a conclusive form within 10 minutes, consumable via a platform that is readily available, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer - works did not have to be digital but we did exclude linear written documents in Word or equivalent. We wanted to leave format/platform as open as possible to encourage lateral thinking about story development.

A longlisting process with a youth panel is providing 10 writers/creators with:

  • a £1,000 R&D bursary towards the realisation and development of a new or existing idea into a final work
  • ideation workshops including innovation of form, future methods of storytelling and co-curation best practice
  • young people focus groups to discuss ideas, needs and motivations

A shortlist of 3 will be selected from the final works by a selection panel of industry experts with the winner selected from the shortlist by the youth panel and awarded £15,000.

Selection panel

We worked with a youth panel and then a selection panel of experts from a variety of industry backgrounds:

Antonia Byatt, Chief Executive at First Story

Ben Horslen, Fiction Publisher at Penguin Random House Children's and Joint Artistic Director of Antic Disposition

Irfan Master, Writer

Sara O'Connor, Developer at Consonance.app and Co-Founder at BookPenPals

Nell Whitley, Executive Producer at Marshmallow Laser Feast

Find out more about the panel.

What were we looking for?

In the first instance, we looked for proposals for great ideas that push short-form story beyond the norm.

Applications were selected based on the quality of writing and ability to engage and inspire young people as well as innovation in form, interface and interactivity.

The prize will be awarded to a story that can be experienced in a conclusive form within 10 minutes, consumable via a platform/format that is readily available through a smartphone, tablet or computer (excluding linear documents written in Word or equivalent). Entries do not have to be digital. Format/platform has been kept as open as possible to encourage lateral thinking about story development.

We will be looking for projects that will benefit from the mentoring support offered and which allow room for development in the artist’s own practice, whether through creating new or expanding or developing existing work.

We strongly encouraged entries from writers who do not normally consider their work within the ‘Young Adult’ genre and entries that encourage collaboration.

What were we not looking for?

This prize is aimed at helping writers to explore new formats for delivering short-form storytelling. We were not looking for high-end technology projects that used specialised equipment or short films or documentaries. We weren't supporting traditional short-form writing and linear written documents in Word or equivalent.

Who could have applied and how much did it cost?

Alternarratives was open to creators and writers living and working within the UK. Applicants had to be 18 or over and have the legal right to work in the UK.

It was free to apply for this prize.

Key dates

  • Submissions deadline: 9am, 13 January 2020
  • Longlist writers informed by: 28 February 2020
  • 3 month R&D period begins (including 2-3 workshops): 1 March 2020
  • Final works submitted: 1 June 2020
  • Shortlist selected and winner announced: July 2020

Submission guidelines

Applications were accepted via our online entry form. You needed to include:

  • Up to 2 examples of previous writing work (optional)
  • 1 short story that will form the basis of your project for the prize
  • A short description of the work you want support to make, including the technologies and processes you will use
  • A short statement explaining why this award would benefit your practice at this particular time
  • What skills and resources you have to deliver the idea
  • What support you might need
  • An up to date bio
  • A current CV

Please note that the selection process was blind, and none of your personal information or details were used during this process.

Alternarratives

Read our frequently asked questions

Book pages

What happens next?

Selection for Alternarratives is a three-part process. An initial longlist was selected with a youth panel, and awarded a £1,000 R&D bursary to turn their ideas into complete works. From the final works, the expert panel will select a shortlist of three projects. Selection will be based on the quality of writing and ability to engage and inspire young people as well as innovation in form, interface and interactivity. From these, one writer will go on to be awarded the prize of £15,000 by the youth panel.

All applicants were notified of the longlist outcome by 28 February 2020. We regret that we were unable to give individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Who do I contact if I have any more questions?

Please have a look at our FAQs if you have any questions relating to this small grant programme. If your question is not answered there, please contact [email protected].

We encourage you to subscribe to the Nesta newsletter and follow us on social media @nesta_uk #Alternarratives to keep up to date on the programme.