A New Platform for Amateur Writers Who Want a Bigger Audience Than Just Their Mates and Their Mothers

Eoin Lynam, leaning back into one of the couches in the lobby of the Alex Hotel on Fenian Street, looks amusedly at his best friend Sam Moorhead beside him.

“Essentially, it’s a zombie apocalypse kind of happening around some guy’s trip home on the Nitelink [bus],” says Sam Moorhead, smiling to himself.

“I’ve experienced a lot of the debauchery and the terror of the Nitelink,” he says, “so I’d bring in elements of that.”

Moorhead is describing a comedy-horror short story he wrote. It’s called “Nitelink of the Living Dead”, he says.

Lynam teased out the idea with him, encouraged him to write, and read the final tale, he says. Moorhead does the same with Lynam’s stories.

While the two are best buddies, though, both want a bigger audience than each other and their mothers, they say, which is why on Monday, they launched Shorter Stories, an online platform for amateurs to publish their writing.

“We just kind of get frustrated with that, there’s nowhere for us to actually showcase our work,” says Moorhead. And they assume others feel the same.

“We just think that there isn’t enough of a platform for people’s work to be seen by enough people,” he says. “We want people to feel excited about their work being seen.”

The Best Friends

Last Wednesday, Lynam and Moorhead were both dressed in grey tracksuits. They listened carefully to one another, rarely interrupting.

Storytelling has always been a big part of their friendship, says Lynam. They used to tell football stories while kicking a ball around. “A lot of imagination, I would say.”

Now in their thirties, they still bounce ideas around together. “Is this working? Is this funny? Is this interesting?” says Moorhead.

They trust the other’s instincts even if their tales differ. Lynam writes stories of people travelling the world. Moorhead sticks to horror.

Feedback from Lynam helps Moorhead figure out if a story is going in the right direction, or if it should be shown to a wider audience – and vice versa

“Before I submit anything, I’ll have shown it to him,” says Moorhead. “I’ll have proofed it four times, I’ll have it to the best of my ability.”

An Attainable Place

Lynam says he and Moorhead had heard fellow authors in writing groups complaining about small audiences, that stories would be read by the group’s members and their families.

Literary journals are competitive, says Lynam. Meanwhile, personal blogs are tucked away on the internet and are usually low-traffic.

Says Moorhead: “What we’re trying to do is say, here’s a platform here’s a space for everybody to submit what you want.”

An aim and deadline can create discipline and prompt people to chip away at something they’re putting off, he says.

Moorhead says they hope they’ll be able to give feedback to writers and correct typos. But they won’t be doing a huge amount of curation, he says.

“Nothing problematic, and make sure things keep a relatively high standard because you want a good experience for people when people are reading,” he says.

Mostly though, they want to trust writers to send in their best work. “Because that’s what we’re trying to do when we write as well,” he says.

Ali Fox submitted to Shorter Stories last week, a story she’d started in 2020, but hadn’t looked at since, she says. “I spruced it up and sent it in.”

It’s 350 words, funny, and inspired by a primary school bully, she says. She has tens of tiny stories like it, ones that don’t fit in her comedy slots, or are funnier written than spoken.

When she came across Shorter Stories, she felt a drive to return to the story, a confidence that hadn’t been there before, she says.

“There are always going to be people that are better writers, funnier than you, more well read or better educated,” she says. “But I feel pretty confident about it.”

Big Hopes

Lynam says they’re hoping for quick reads like Fox’s. “Basically trying to make a sort of a better place to mindlessly scroll.”

Too many people spend their time scrolling through Instagram, and they might prefer to read instead, if they found something they liked, he says.

It’s more difficult for writers to promote their work on social media than it is for musicians, comedians or actors, says Lynam. Words don’t catch people’s attention as easily as videos, he says.

“We’re going to continuously post good quality stories across multiple genres, and gradually build our reputation and following amongst creative communities,” he says. That’s how they plan to build an audience, he says.

It’s not really about financial gain, he says. “It does take time from our days, but it’s something we enjoy and are passionate about, so we don’t see it as a cost.”

They want to be able to springboard good work, he says. “We both feel that there’s a lot more talent out there that actually doesn’t get seen.”

Fox says it would be nice if her story gained some traction on social media.

It could make her more confident about longer stories, she says. “And it will be my personal wish that eventually some of my work might get optioned for TV, but that’s like a long-term goal of mine.”

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Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

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