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BBC Radio 4 - Opening Lines

Gemma Jenkins

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We're writing this as the first short stories for the new series of Opening Lines start to land on our desk.

About to enter its 12th year, the series showcases new and emerging writers, sourced directly from the hundreds of unsolicited submissions the team receives each year.

From this pool we select three stories to be read by actors and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. We're excited that this year we are launching a special Opening Lines webpage and we will be publishing the transcripts of the six strongest stories on it. This gives us the chance to profile those stories which perhaps aren't best suited to being read out loud but are nevertheless fantastic examples of the genre.

There's always a sense of anticipation when we begin the reading process. There are a team of ten readers and we particularly enjoy getting together to champion our favourites.

It's always nice in the covering letter when writers give us a little bit of background info to the genesis of their story. In the past we've broadcast published stories, stories written specifically for Opening Lines and on more than one occasion a story which turns out to be the very first time a writer has put pen to paper. The only strict rule is that a writer must be new to radio.

We're on the look out for those writers with an original voice who perhaps explore familiar territory but with a subtle twist which makes you feel like you are reading about it for the first time. Strong stories and intriguing central characters always go down well - no surprises there!

We often get asked questions about subject-matter but we really don't want to tell you what to write - your story can be about anything, just remember that the slot goes out in the afternoon so there's a strong chance that children will be listening.

We can't recommend enough that you listen to the Radio 4 Afternoon Reading short story slot as this is the best way of finding out what works well being read out loud.

We look forward to receiving your work.

Gemma Jenkins is the producer of BBC Radio 4's Opening Lines programme.

Opening Lines is now open to unsolicited submissions of short stories from writers new to radio for its new series. Find out more about how you can submit on the opportunities page.

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