WRITING CONTEST DISCUSSION THREAD version 2

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by FatBurt, Jun 9, 2006.

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  1. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    After a brief chat with Raven we are going to look to run the Writing contest again.

    Droideka did a great job last time and Dorkman was admirable for the first one and I've now "foolishly" offered to host the next one.




    So far we've had 2 writing contests.

    Both in my opinion have been successful to the extent that we had competitors and judges and winners as a result.

    However.

    We haven't had as many competitors as we would have liked and I'd now like everyone who has been involved so far to help think of ways to:


    Increase the number of entrants

    Tweak any rules

    Make the contest thread more appealing.



    I'll post a breakdown of the rules below along with my opinions on them so we can discuss them in turn.







  2. RULES:


  3. - Entries must be entirely original stories written by the submitting author within the contest period, based on that month's prompt (see below).

    I have no issue with this as it makes perfect sense and plagiarism is wrong on many, many levels




    - Entries must be either science fiction or fantasy stories. Either genre is acceptable, as well as subgenres.

    I'm open to debate in this one. I personally would have no issue with a story being set in a contemporary way, however I would also be happy to make the style of story part of the prompt




    - Fan fiction (stories based on pre-existing characters or worlds from film, television, or books, including but not limited to Star Wars) is not accepted.

    Agreed, were looking for originality here, if you want to do fan fic then there are some boards all for you




    - This contest is open to all registered posters of the Jedi Council Forums. You do not have to be a regular poster in the SFF Writer's Guild thread in order to enter this contest.

    The more entrant the merrier for me





    - Entries must adhere to the JC Terms of Service. If you have a question if your story or a story element is within the TOS, PM the host or a sponsoring moderator to ask. Stories that violate the Terms of Service in any way will be disqualified. Keep it clean!


    Goes without saying, I may be 28 but having some slash type fiction end up in my inbox really doesn't appeal



    - From the date of the prompt (?????) you have approximately one month to write you story (deadline is ???????). You may submit your story any time, but it is recommended that even if you finish early, you take the remaining time to revise and strengthen your story.



    Is a month sufficient time or is it too much. Do we want quick fire stories with limited word count or do we want something different?





    - Final entries have a minimum wordcount of 2000 words, and a maximum wordcount of 8000 words.


    I'm open to discussion on this. I don't want a Lord of the Rings type Tome though




    - Entries must be submitted in a common text format (Microsoft Word, .txt, or .rtf) and emailed to the contest host at XXXXXXX@XXXXX.???

    Thats fine as it has to be issued somewhere.




  4. JUDGING:


  5. - Entries will be judged by a group of volunteer judges, to be selected by the host. The number of judges will be no fewer than 3. Ideally, I'd like to have 5 or 6 or even more.


    Apply to be judge and your in

    - Entries will be distributed to the judges without the names of the authors.


    Anonymity is key so this will continue

    - Judges will score each entry out of 10 possible points in several categories:
  6. Overall Creativity
  7. Writing Ability

  8. Grammar/Mechanics

  9. Use of the prompt

  10. Entertainment Value


  • The scores for each story will then be averaged, and the story with the highest score will be deemed the winner.

    - Along with the score, each judge must write a brief paragraph describing why s/he chose their particular scores. These paragraphs should be honest, but constructive.

    - Judges must read all stories assigne
  • #1
  • the_wandering_shadow Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    star 3

    Goes without saying, I may be 28 but having some slash type fiction end up in my inbox really doesn't appeal

    I definitely agree with that, although as far as the violence level goes... :p


    Is a month sufficient time or is it too much. Do we want quick fire stories with limited word count or do we want something different?

    I like all that as it is. A month is sufficient. I can write 8,000 like nothing in a few day's time if I go at it like the addict I am. No wonder I'm so efficent at burning myself out... :rolleyes:

    But things are bound to be too busy for everyone, myself included, that a month is a good time frame for this word limit. And personally I don't want the word limit cut at all. While 8,000 words is miniscule to me, it's more than a lot of magazines and contests have as maxium word limit for submissions.

    I'm open to discussion on this. I don't want a Lord of the Rings type Tome though

    Even I couldn't do that in a month ;) But like I said the 8,000 word limit is fine with me.

    I'm open to discussion on this one. I think the judges can be impartial enough as their own work will be getting judged as well.

    That wouldn't bother me. I just know that I wouldn't judge while I was writing. Not that I'm not trustworthy, it's just I wouldn't want to know what everyone else's entries looked like before the results were posted. I'd probably get all paranoid about mine not being as good, and it would just bother me. I'm all self-critial like that.


    The prompt is an area I want to discuss as well but I think that can be done when were sure what we're doing with the rules (and if there is enough interest).

    I can do the promoting over in fan fic to generate more interest. I can even sign in with my tatooinewizard user name and update the Serious About Writing thread title. I think that was talked about even before judging started for the last contest, but I figured I'd bring it up again.


    I would also really like more posts in the contest thread as the competition progresses. I think one of the reasons we struggle to get entrys even though we loads of interest is because people forget about the thread.

    Makes sense. I know my own memory problems well enough ;)


    I'd like to look into the idea of additional prompts or even a requirement for people to submit story plans or snippets as a teaser for everyone.

    Hmm... that is a good idea, just to make sure that everyone's on the ball.




  • NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    - Entries must be either science fiction or fantasy stories. Either genre is acceptable, as well as subgenres.


    I agree. This is a sci-fi/fantasy section of the boards, so all stories should remain sf/f.

    - This contest is open to all registered posters of the Jedi Council Forums. You do not have to be a regular poster in the SFF Writer's Guild thread in order to enter this contest.


    I agree with this as well. We need more people.

    There is really plenty of time to get a short story done in a month, but maybe we should keep it a month for now to see if we can get more authors.

    - Final entries have a minimum wordcount of 2000 words, and a maximum wordcount of 8000 words.


    For the next contest, that's probably best.

    - Judges will have ONE week to submit their scores. Any judge who does not fulfill his or her commitment will not be allowed to participate in the contest in any form the next time around. People were counting on you!


    I'd rather make it two; judges have to spend at least as much time as the writers do, if not more.

    - Judges may not submit an entry for contest period in which they are judging.


    I'm open to discussion on this one. I think the judges can be impartial enough as their own work will be getting judged as well. If a writer is a judge as well then they won't get their own work to mark so they have to rely on the honesty of others just as much as the others rely on that judge


    While this is true, and it would be judged by others, I think that at least for now judges shouldn't be allowed to submit anything.


    As for promoting . . . Leona said last time that she'd be happy to create a thread in fanfic to advertise, and I'd have no trouble helping tatooinewizard promote since I've been hanging out there for ffour years 8-} Another thing we might consider is making a thread in YJCC and asking the mods to advertise it in the mod squad updates. In addition, we could ask sff tv & films if we can advertise there, since we're all ssf.
  • the_wandering_shadow Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    star 3
    Even if someone doesn't have an idea as far as changing rules, I think they should still post here to let us know if they're interested.

    *Hopeful hinting*

    Also I'm ready to advertise in fan fic whenever I get the go-ahead.
  • Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I think the biggest single change you can make to the rules to attract more people is to dramatically drop the lower bound on the word count. I would put it at about 500-700 words (somewhere around one page).

    While 2000 words really isn't a lot, it can seem like a daunting challenge to many first time writers or would-be entrants. Also, a lower count would make last-minute submissions far easier to complete. By contrast, I don't think we're giving up a lot by doing this. Certainly, we could get flooded with a lot of minimal effort submissions, but I don't think overwhelming volume is really an issue with us at this point. I would note, further, that it is entirely possible to make a short, vignette type story that is of high quality. They often tend to be some of my favorites in the magazines I browse. Obviously, they make sacrifices in terms of plot development and things, but they force a kind of economy to produce that requires just as much skill on the authors part as weaving effective tales of greater length.

    So, that would be my vote to change something, if anything. Further reduce the lower bound for acceptable submissions, and that should bring an increase in volume, if nothing else. Why do people prefer the current 2000 word setup?
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    I'm happy to look at dropping word count to max 2000 or less if required.



    If we did that though we may need to look at the prompt and maybe give some more scope on how the story should be constructed.


    i.e give specific character types, location and build up.


    The contestant then finishes off the story.




    e.g


    Setting

    A tale set on an interstellar ship that is spiraling out of control. The captain is dying and the pilot is dead. 4 people are stuck the other side of a hull breach and they don't know whats caused the damage.


    Prompt

    There is to be a disastrous ending and the cause of the damage is to be revealed.



    Very, very basic though it would obviously be in more depth for the contest.








    Agreed. If you are interested in the competition but don't want to be involved in setting guidelines can you please register your interest here.

    This will not mean that you are expected to write but it means I can contact you as and when we get something set up on the chance you want to submit an entry.


    Cheers
  • NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Would it also be possible to give second and maybe even third place prizes? Like colors for 48-72 hours for second place and 24-48 for third place. The opportunity to more easily win colors might attract more people.
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    That would be up to the mods but I'd be happy to go with it if it attracted contestants.

  • JediNemesis Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2003
    star 4
    Entries must be entirely original stories written by the submitting author within the contest period, based on that month's prompt (see below).

    Absolutely. It's ridiculously obvious, but it can't hurt putting it in the rules.

    - Entries must be either science fiction or fantasy stories. Either genre is acceptable, as well as subgenres.

    This is an SF&F board so I think that's entirely reasonable. Besides, the 'subgenres' clause opens up a lot lot lot of room. Last contest was basically war stories with a bit of SF for good measure. At least mine was.

    - Fan fiction (stories based on pre-existing characters or worlds from film, television, or books, including but not limited to Star Wars) is not accepted.

    We've got three boards for fanfic already, and there're millions of other sites out there. Original only is cool by me.[/i]

    - This contest is open to all registered posters of the Jedi Council Forums. You do not have to be a regular poster in the SFF Writer's Guild thread in order to enter this contest.

    Absolutely. In an ideal world, word-of-mouth would spread the fame of this contest so far that people registered just so they could enter :p

    - Entries must adhere to the JC Terms of Service. If you have a question if your story or a story element is within the TOS, PM the host or a sponsoring moderator to ask. Stories that violate the Terms of Service in any way will be disqualified. Keep it clean!

    Agreed on all counts.

    - From the date of the prompt (?????) you have approximately one month to write you story (deadline is ???????). You may submit your story any time, but it is recommended that even if you finish early, you take the remaining time to revise and strengthen your story.

    A month was good for me. It is possible to do it in a week, but I wouldn't wish that kind of stress on anybody ever.

    NB: if the suggestion of much shorter wordcount is taken up, then the writing time should be cut down. Maybe not to a week, but certainly to a fortnight.

    - Final entries have a minimum wordcount of 2000 words, and a maximum wordcount of 8000 words.

    Ah. It depends what we're going for. 8000 is about right for a whole short story, but it's a lot. Even 3/4K is quite a daunting number to be faced with. I'm happy either way, but I can sympathise with anyone who'd rather have a shorter limit.

    Putting it between 1000 and 2500 words is (I think) the usual limit on the fanfic challenges, which allows enough space for a bit of character, a bit of scenery, a bit of plot. Just a suggestion.

    - Entries must be submitted in a common text format (Microsoft Word, .txt, or .rtf) and emailed to the contest host at XXXXXXX@XXXXX.???

    Yep, no problems.


    - Entries will be judged by a group of volunteer judges, to be selected by the host. The number of judges will be no fewer than 3. Ideally, I'd like to have 5 or 6 or even more.

    Anyone who wants to can judge.

    - Entries will be distributed to the judges without the names of the authors.

    Without question.

    - Judges will score each entry out of 10 possible points in several categories:

    Overall Creativity
    Writing Ability
    Grammar/Mechanics
    Use of the prompt
    Entertainment Value

    The scores for each story will then be averaged, and the story with the highest score will be deemed the winner.

    - Along with the score, each judge must write a brief paragraph describing why s/he chose their particular scores. These paragraphs should be honest, but constructive.

    - Judges must read all stories assigned to them in full.


    All perfectly reasonable IMO.

    - Judges will have ONE week to submit their scores. Any judge who does not fulfill his or her commitment will not be allowed to participate in the contest in any form the next time around. People were counting on you!

    A week's a little short. Maybe a fortnight. Or, for the sake of simplicity, writing period = judging period. Long stories, a month each, short stories, a fortnight?
  • NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    A week's a little short. Maybe a fortnight. Or, for the sake of simplicity, writing period = judging period. Long stories, a month each, short stories, a fortnight?

    I like that idea. Last time it was a month for writing and a week for judging, and (especally if there are more than 5 entries) it can take more time to judge than it does to write.

    I'd say only if there's a total lack of volunteer judges.

    That's a good idea too, though the last time there seemed to be plenty of judges.
  • Twinky_Stryder Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2003
    star 4
    I'd love to join in a writing contest, and your new rules seem fair.

    I've just always having the bad luck of hearing about it AFTER the deadline to hand stuff in.
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    I shall PM you when I get the next one up and running then.


    I'm looking at a July contest ATM which still gives us 2 weeks of discussion.



    There are some good ideas so far and I'll put up a compiled resolution next weekend.
  • the_wandering_shadow Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    star 3
    The thought of dropping the word limit nearly made my heart stop :p

    I don't like the idea, seriously, but if it'll help then I'll concede. Thinking of less than a thousand words, that's like my news articles. But if we do stick to around 2,000 to 2,500 or something I really like the idea of a senario being set up in the prompt. That might help me a little bit.

    Like Mark Twain once said, he liked writing novels more because he didn't have the time to write short stories. I think it was him, but don't quote me on that. Anyway sometimes (and all the time for me) it's just more difficult to write something really short instead of something with a lot of room to work.

    I'll go with what everyone else decides because I've been looking forward to this since before the last outcome was decided.

    I do like the thought of awards for the second and third place entrants.
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    Prizes for second and third place may be difficult to agree, but I'll contact Raven nearer the contest date and see if anything is possible.


    I like the idea of it but then again I also like the idea of a 24hr ban for last place.




    I'm a bit evil like that :)
  • NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I don't like the idea of a ban if only because we need to get more people to participate and I don't know if some people would be willing to take that risk, if only for 24 hours.

    Cutting the word limit would, I think, not give people enough room to write, but if it attracts more people then it's worth trying.

    About the 2nd and 3rd place winners--I was thinking. Maybe it the contest included different things (like a seperate catagory for shorter stories and another for somewhat longer ones, and maybe even one for collabortaion) there could be 1st place prizes for each catagory instead of multiple prizes for one. Just a thought, and probably too complicated to do right now, but maybe for the future.
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    Don't worry there is no intention to ban.


    The idea just appeals hugely.






    Some great ideas here and the opinions are really valuable. Keep them coming.
  • JediNemesis Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2003
    star 4
    Banning is for games and writing is not half as much fun as games :p

    Although in the distant future, maybe we should do the Reverse Writing Contest. The object is to be as (stylistically) awful as possible and the writer of the best story gets a ban for not trying.

    It'd never work, would it?
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    Bizzarely I like that as an option for something down the line.



    There would have to be a specific route that the judges must use.


    i.e most obvious cliches, worst romance (think AOTC) etc...



    Excellent idea
  • the_wandering_shadow Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    star 3
    I like that idea.
  • Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    To be clear, I think we should keep open the possibility of longer stories. I was just saying our minimum allowed should be something smaller than what it was last time.

    IE, in the last competition acceptable submissions were 2000 to 8000 words.

    Instead, I recommend something like: 500 to 5000 words. Frankly, the upper limit doesn't matter, as that's a function of how many submissions there are, and the ability of the judges to get through stuff. So it could really stay at 8000, if you wanted.

    As for the prompt, I could see that being a two-edged sword. Maybe you could go with like two prompts, one with a specific scenario, and one with a more general or thematic flavor, and the person could specify which prompt they were using?

    For instance:

    Option 1: Loss

    Option 2: Write a story about people stranded on an interstellar journey, who come to realize that they will have no hope of surviving or getting rescued.

    Or something. I hope you take my meaning.

    That's all I've got for now.
  • NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Would these two catagories be judged for the same prize(s) or would they be seperate catagories?
  • Knight_Dilettante Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 24, 2002
    star 4
    I can see apples to oranges problems if there's two kinds of prompts. The idea is to get more entries right? To do that more people need to know when it is happening, more people need to be inspired by the prompt, and more people need to have/make time to write.

    I think more advertising (ie in the fanfic forums for one) when the contest starts will help. And Master_FatBurt, if you're offering to PM people when a contest starts put me on that list - that's the biggest problem for me, not catching on quick enough that it has started up again. Maybe we could add in for fun that you can ask to be PMed when the contest starts but if you then don't submit an entry you get a game ban? Or would PMing a list of people that the contest had started be a pain for the organizer? I'd guess it might be...

    As for the prompts, I think the problem with prompts is that for some people very specific is easier than very vague. But I think unless you run two simultaneous contests you are better off alternating between vague and specific than offering both at once. Apples to Oranges otherwise.

    There's also a time/length factor. I think if we dropped the lower limit to say 1000 words at first that might be enough to get in more entries with the same time allowed for writing limit. I'd say leave the upper word limit alone for now. Unless the judges found 8000 overwhelming?

    I do think judges should get at least as much time to judge as the writers do to write. After all, we are asking for somewhat detailed comparisons - not just "I liked this one best." So they'll need time to do that.

    As for how long to have for a writing period... I'd suggest not changing that yet. It seemed to me that a month was enough time. Or should have been for me anyway. I personally got hit with writer's block/blahs and real life at the same time or I'd have had an entry and I got the feeling that other folks just got hit with real life issues too. So maybe it was a fluke that there were only two entries last time?

    The JC TOS rule is actually a difficult one to deal with at times when you're doing original work. There's usually a lot more violence in the fantasy and sci fi that I have read than is allowable by the TOS. Which isn't to say you can't work within it, because you can, but I can see where some folks might just decide it's too hart to tell if their story is ok. Or maybe this just says something about my reading tastes that I might want to think about. [face_laugh] I don't really have a solution for that one of course. We have to stay within the limits so we just have to learn eh?

    KD
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    There will only be one prompt.


    But I may look into the idea of multiple requirements within the prompt.




    I have no issue with the original word count but looking at short stories for future mini contests may be a good idea.


  • Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Though it seems to be settled for the moment, allow me to weigh in on the multiple prompts thing for clarification. It doesn't really need to be "Apples to Oranges" at all, if done so that the two are complimentary. That is, the more specific prompt would be an elaboration of the more general one.

    For instance:

    Prompt 1 (General): War's End
    Prompt 2 (Specific): Write the story of a veteran's return after several years at war, and his attempt to find a new place in society.

    Basically, you aren't comparing anything different at all, because Prompt 2 is only one possiblility of the many stories you might recieve under Prompt 1 in any case. This way, those people that really feel like they don't have any good ideas, or that they need more meat to start with, can have a solid launching point. Whereas the guy, who, say, wants to write the spectacular, action-packed epic of the final battle, or the guy who wants to write the story of dirty backroom deals, geo-politics, and the machinations behind the post-war settlement, or perhaps the guy who just wants to write the simple story of how a mother finally comes to terms with her son's death and decides it was worth something after all would all be able to submit as well, and wouldn't be restrained by the more specific prompt posted above.

    If we go with only one prompt, though, I would go for more general rather than more specific. We can always use the thread in the meantime to help people come up with specific ideas if they're struggling, but if you give a really specific prompt, it's either going to fit something a person is interested in writing or not. I wouldn't mind a bit more specific than last time (That was the one "in some way involving a war" correct?), but I would personall feel somewhat restricted if I was reduced to merely writing in the characters for a previously outlined plot, or something.
  • FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5
    Now for an update of the discussion.


    I'm aiming for a contest date to start 1st July.


    I have my ideas for the contest in mind and the rules I'd like to use and now is your time to raise your objection or approval to any of the suggested rejigs.

    I'll be PMing people who were interested even from the first contest as well in an attempt to raise as much interest as possible.


    Anyway here are the possible revisions


  • RULES:


  • - Entries must be entirely original stories written by the submitting author within the contest period, based on that month's prompt (see below).

    Everyone was happy with this so no issues here




    - Entries must be either science fiction or fantasy stories. Either genre is acceptable, as well as subgenres.

    Style of story dictated by prompt as an option
    Most people wanted a fantasy or Sci fi direction no one objected to an everyday setting as an alterrnative although the fantasy element is winning out here





    - Fan fiction (stories based on pre-existing characters or worlds from film, television, or books, including but not limited to Star Wars) is not accepted.

    no debating this. This will be a rule




    - This contest is open to all registered posters of the Jedi Council Forums. You do not have to be a regular poster in the SFF Writer's Guild thread in order to enter this contest.

    No debate here





    - Entries must adhere to the JC Terms of Service. If you have a question if your story or a story element is within the TOS, PM the host or a sponsoring moderator to ask. Stories that violate the Terms of Service in any way will be disqualified. Keep it clean!


    No debate here



    - From the date of the prompt (?????) you have approximately one month to write you story (deadline is ???????). You may submit your story any time, but it is recommended that even if you finish early, you take the remaining time to revise and strengthen your story.



    Every response was happy with a month any disputes let us know





    - Final entries have a minimum wordcount of 2000 words, and a maximum wordcount of 8000 words.


    Everyone happy with this although short quick fire stories are a possibility for future competitions as well




    - Entries must be submitted in a common text format (Microsoft Word, .txt, or .rtf) and emailed to the contest host at XXXXXXX@XXXXX.???

    No debates




  • JUDGING:


  • - Entries will be judged by a group of volunteer judges, to be selected by the host. The number of judges will be no fewer than 3. Ideally, I'd like to have 5 or 6 or even more.


    Apply to be judge and your in still stands with me

    - Entries will be distributed to the judges without the names of the authors.


    Anonymity is key so this will continue

    - Judges will score each entry out of 10 possible points in several categories:
  • Overall Creativity
  • Writing Ability

  • Grammar/Mechanics

  • Use of the prompt

  • Entertainment Value


  • The scores for each story will then be averaged, and the story with the highest score will be deemed the winner.

    - Along with the score, each judge must write a brief paragraph describing why s/he chose their particular scores. These paragraphs should be honest, but constructive.

    - Judges must read all stories assigned to them in full.


    Scoring will continue in this vein as no one gave me a suitable alternative, however you still have time to do so


    - Judges will have ONE week to submit their scores. Any judge who does not fulfill his or her commitment will not be allowed to participate in the contest in any form the next time around. People were counting on you!

    potential and historical judges would prefer a bit more time especially as the writers get a month. I'm going to suggest a week for every 3 entries recieved (unless we get loads) as this allows two days per entry.

    This is
  • FatBurt, Jun 20, 2006 at 12:04 PM
    #25
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