Friday, 26 June 2015


Over the last few weeks I've been reading and listening to stories on MacGuffin; a new self-publishing platform for short stories and poetry. Produced by Comma Press, it is a kind of literary jukebox and free to use. Available at the moment in beta version, the full launch will be happening soon.

There's already a large amount of content on MacGuffin, with the opportunity for writers to add their work to the site. It is brilliant to see classic works by writers such as Chekhov and Joyce sitting alongside acclaimed contemporary writers like David Constantine and Zoe Lambert, as well as new voices and emerging writers.

All the stories are available as both text and audio. Users are encouraged to interact, rating the text and audio pieces and adding hashtags to help other users find and categorise the content. Using the keyword search is a fascinating way to bring up a whole spectrum of work and encourages users to perhaps read something by writers they may not have come across before.

Each story also has an analytical breakdown showing how many readers and listeners have rated it, where they are located and if/at what point they dropped out. This might sound a bit brutal but actually it isn't. There is no explicit judgement attached to this data and so it enables readers and writers to look at writing subjectively. If there are correlations in the reader dropout data does this mean the story needs to be strengthened at certain points, edited and made more arresting or actually does this confirm that this narrative demands a bit more from the reader?

My favourite MacGuffin discovery? A brilliant writer that I was previously unfamiliar with; 'Something for Nothing' by Larissa Boehning, translated from German by Lyn Marven, is evocative and transfixing. MacGuffin is the perfect forum for discovering writers, whether well established and just new to the reader, like Boehning was for me, or new voices on the literary scene to take note of and champion.

Have a go with the beta version here. Read the The Guardian review of MacGuffin here.

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