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About Alternarratives

Nesta want 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 is no further brief. This is a call for bold, creative ideas that explore new ways to tell a story and push the boundary of how we consume literature. Proposals should be 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 do not have to be digital but we are excluding linear written documents in Word or equivalent. We want to leave format/platform as open as possible to encourage lateral thinking about story development.

A longlisting process with a youth panel will provide 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 will be working with a youth panel and selection panel of experts from a variety of industry backgrounds - to be announced shortly.

What are we looking for?

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

Applications will be 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 encourage entries from writers who do not normally consider their work within the ‘Young Adult’ genre and entries that encourage collaboration.

What are we not looking for?

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

Who can apply and how much does it cost?

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

It is 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: June 2020

Submission guidelines

Applications will be accepted via our online entry form. You will be asked 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 will be blind, and none of your personal information or details will be used during this process.

Alternarratives

Submit your entry to Alternarratives now

Book pages

What happens next?

Selection for Alternarratives will be a three-part process. An initial longlist will be 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 3 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 will be notified of the longlist outcome by 28 February 2020. We regret that we are 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.