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General Competition Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Story Competitions' started by Ched, Oct 8, 2018.

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  1. AlbusPHolmes

    AlbusPHolmes The Alchemist

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    Speaking solely for myself - I voted for an entry and fully intended on writing at the time. However real-life interfered and I got a promotion at work right around a time that made it very much a dubious honor because i got rapidly overworked and basically crashed every second i wasn't at work.

    I also did toss around a Shacklebolt-mentors-Tonks-during-a-her-first-haywire-assignment type deal, as well as a Headmaster Harry gives a gifted 3rd year a intro to curse-breaking, but neither coalesced beyond a cool scene into a standalone short story nearly in time for me to write.

    So real life + my inability to plot out a story beyond a scene kinda held me back.

    Incentives - the advertising works. I saw it every day I logged on. Some sort of cool badge for contest winners AND entrants as someone suggested would be dope too. I also fear given that some of the recent prompt polls have been neck-and-neck means people banking on having their vote win may be a little discouraged from writing if they just lose out. So maybe having two prompts for each competition might theoretically mean about 1.5-2x more entries than usual?

    This might already exist - but also having a separate discord chatroom where possible participants can workshop ideas anonymously with each other night help getting creative juices flowing? Not sure how the anonymity thing jives with Discord or most chat platforms, or if they'd be concerns about possible plagiarism, but i know I'd have benefitted greatly from having a couple someones to bounce ideas off of and help them gestate into full stories (I'm notoriously bad at plotting). Feel free to point out if this type of support system already exists readily here - I'm not quite as active here as i used to be and might be unaware.

    Hope this helps.
     
  2. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    I like the idea of listing past winners. I also tbh (said it before) think it would help to not have it be a sub forum inside a sub forum.

    Other idea that might not be feasible... for the longer stories (18k plus)... what if every once in a while it was broken up. Like you could do a part one submission by x date and a part two by y date? That might be an idiotic idea, but it came to mind because this competition i meant to submit but procrastinated too much and then it was like "well, I cant pull together the 18k words it will take to do this in so short a time period."

    It might be interesting though because it lets you incorporate the feedback from round one into round two.

    The draw back might be you'd lose people between rounds.
     
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    We have the announcement page that lists all the winning entries. Clicking on a winner tells you who wrote it but I guess I could add that to the page.

    Is that what you meant by that specific suggestion Selethe
     
  4. sirsavagethe21st

    sirsavagethe21st First Year

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    Ngl I didn't even know this was a thing until today, although that could be due to my relative newness. I think Selethe's idea of a badge or perhaps a different colored name would be a good incentive for some. Or maybe make like a separate "hall of fame" sort of thing at the top.

    In regards to advertising I think just added incentive would be enough to get more entries in. Personally I just ran out of time for this comp, although I will definitely try again in the next one. The prompt was a bit constricting and the ideas didn't flow until it was too late.
     
  5. Selethe

    Selethe normalphobe

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    x_x same as sirsavage, that page somehow slid right across my smooth brain and I forgot it existed. My main point is that I think competition winners might enjoy some wider recognition for winning. As is, most people don't know who has won a competition, or if they've won multiple times. I personally believe the story competition is awesome enough that the winners themselves deserve to be known and remembered unless they want to stay anonymous. I think adding a section at the top (alongside Groups, Members, Rules, etc) with a Hall of Fame like sirsavage suggested would be really cool.
     
  6. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene High Inquisitor –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    I'm in a similar boat to AlbusPHolmes in that work beat me down into exhaustion. I'd sit down to try and write and there would be nothing happening. I really wish I had stuck with the Triwizard do-over with Harry and Fiona now though. The announcements worked fine as far as I am concerned, I was well aware of the competition there just wasn't any juice to back it.
     
  7. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    After reviewing (and discussing) competition suggestons / etc with staff we're going to...

    (1) temporarily move the sub-forum to be visible from the main page
    (2) encourage advertisement more by members, though this has been done in the past
    (3) discord will have a special 'color' for the current winner

    And in the background I'll PM / encourage some of our regulars to participate in some form or format.
     
  8. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    So this is an outside the box idea that may not work. But ill throw it out there.

    I feel like sometimes our 'smaller' competitions get more participants. And I know ive sometimes faced situations where I wanted to write but procrastinated too long and now have like two days to do 17,000 words I had plotted out!

    Would we ever consider an 'installment' competition. So say right now quater 3's competition is due at the end of september and is up to say 17,500 words.

    What if instead it was like "section one up to 5,000 words due August 20th. Section two up to 5,000 words due August 30th. Section three up to 5,000 words do september 15th. Section four up to 5,000 words due september 30th"

    The neat thing would be 1) for the procrastinators they would have to do less writing all in one chunk. 2) An interesting dynamic could be getting reviews as you go. Like I put my first chunk up and get feedback that I use for the second bit to shape that. You could even have like.. winners per a round and winners overall.

    The down side might be you have people who do part one and then run out of steam and you end up with partially done stories
     
  9. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    So, first of all, I've been of the opinion that our upper word count limit is FAR too long for most competitions like this. I've brought it up a few times, going all the way back to originally planning these comps in ... 2017? Here's one place I've mentioned it.

    But the general consensus was often that people wanted the ability to write longer stories, so I've kept up the word count limit.

    But I'll be blunt and say that I think a lot of the stories that use most of those words read like shitty first drafts that need 30% of the words cut without cutting any of the content. They're often written sloppily and come off like the author can't bear to part with all their unnecessary words.

    I don't personally like the idea of an installment story like this, because it removes the ability to go back and edit and get a cohesive whole. I'd prefer to just change the standard word count to 500 - 7500 (which I think is the word count limit for a lot of Pro Fantasy awards like the Hugo, etc. for short stories) and call it good. That's plenty of words to tell a story in.

    And, to be honest, if I don't like Part I of a Part IV series, I'm going to HATE having to keep reading up the updates on it. With the current setup you can read the start of a story, skim the rest if you think it's shit, then (politely in my case) spit out 200 words of concrit on whatever I think the problem is and move on.

    BUT.

    I don't object to the idea of doing a competition with installments. Though I do think that if the reason is "I can't help but procrastinate" then that's not a great reason, even if it's an understandable one (it's why none of my longer stories ever get submitted).

    I think we may do some more 'shorter' entries for Q4, especially as it's holiday season, but maybe Q1 2022 if you get some other folks interested.

    I want to see some real support for this before trying it, because I can forsee it being a disaster. It's going to make more work for Xiph0, as he's going to have to keep track of which story goes with which previous story (unless we want to remove the anonymity for this type of competition). In addition a lot of people will get the start to their story out then crap out and not finish it, so there may be nothing left to vote on at the end.

    Part of me wants to say that WbA exists for the purpose of getting feedback as you go, but...

    Ultimately I appreciate you bringing this up. Get some more folks to discuss it and we'll see what falls out. I love having fresh ideas for the competitions and reasons to keep them going.

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
  10. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    I feel like as formulated it's not very workable. The solution to people failing to write longer stories isn't to write longer stories in multiple sections. People are only excited for their beginnings, more frequent deadlines are going to have as many false starts and a huge fatality rate I suspect.

    However, I feel like there's something there, something close and on the tip of my tongue. Some sort of less linear, less single-person continuity. Perhaps sequential prompts? So everyone's writing along a line (and resetting, to the next prompt). I.E Q1a prompt winner is "Harry gets a pet." then "Q1b prompt options are a) Harry's pet dies b) Harry's pet gets him into a sticky situation' etc.

    You can be in both parts, but can 'fake' a 1a if you need a 1b, and you don't need 1b for 1a to not look like half-assembled Ikea flat pack you never got round to finishing.

    Or, instead of sequential prompts, you could have 'Open ending rounds'. So short competitions where ... Idk, the winner of the last round has an open ending, or maybe instead of the winner, you take the top three of an 'open ending' round and people choose it like they would prompts, and then each person has to come up with the 'sequel'. Best sequel wins.

    I feel like there's a more inventive less baggageful way to do something a bit unique like that. Something like Soczab is swinging at but perhaps less barriers to success, by a little more structure a little more permissiveness in dropping in and dropping out without it borking a whole two months or whatever.
     
  11. Lindsey

    Lindsey Minister of Magic DLP Supporter

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    After seeing the results, I've been coming to the same conclusion.

    I would like to try out a standard competition where the word count is 3-5k words. I think it might take the pressure off some writers who think they can't compete against a 15k word story. It would also force some people to reduce their word counts and condense their stories.

    Perhaps something like this:
    Q1 - Longer entries, 17k word count limit as original. Most people give themselves goals to write more and this could work.
    Q2 - Medium word counts, 8k or something.
    Q3 - As summer tends to be busier, do a 3-5k standard, and then a flash competition.
    Q4 - Similar to summer, with more flash competitions/small prompts due to the holidays.

    I'd also like some of the flash competitions to take you out of your comfort zones and use it as writing exercises. Rarer POV characters, second person or present tense, rewrite the epilogue of HP, etc.

    Lastly, and this is a personal preference, our themes are so vague sometimes. Like 'aftermath' or 'divergence point in canon'. It makes stories harder to judge, and often harder to write for. I've noticed a trend that we get less submissions when the theme is more vague (and yet people keep voting for the most vague themes). I'd love to see a little more depth to the themes, like aftermath -> aftermath of Voldemort, etc.
     
  12. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    This is another point I've made repeatedly (though I gave up making it a year or two ago). People say they want longer word counts and they say they want vague prompts, but honestly... the more specific prompts force you to come up with ideas better, imo.

    Take that (old) prompt we had about Harry breaking into Snape's office. That's specific as shit, and if you want to write for it then just with that prompt your brain is brainstorming like fuck how do I do that? And even if you don't get a whole plot plopped into your head, you're already working on the 'problem' of how to write that story. A vague prompt like 'Death' doesn't give you that.

    I've tried to keep community wishes in mind for what people want but I feel we are somewhat voting against ourselves.

    Not sure if I want to schedule which times we do which word counts, but yeah. Think I'm going to try being a bit more forceful about some of this stuff in the future. It worked well this time? Bah, I dunno.
     
  13. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    Thats fair! Like I said im the sort of person that likes to throw ideas out and 90% of the time they dont work!

    But I like your idea of shortening the length maybe then. Like you said maybe we transition and see how it goes. Like what if we start alternating? 17,500, 7,500. Do that a couple of rounds and see if we see a pattern of what's more popular?


    edit to add: And just to clarify, I dont procrastinate and then put in junk work. ITs just why I think ive found myself participating in all the shorter contests but not the longer. Ill have ideas, but I wait too long and then cant do right by 17,500 words. But I *can* by 5,000.
     
  14. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    One thing that I have genuinely never understood is why so many people try to USE so much of the 17,500 word count?

    Why does there seem to be a drive to write a long story when the minimum word count is only 50 words? Why don't more people just submit 5,000 word stories? Why not start with ideas that can be done in a reasonable number of words instead of going straight for stories that need so much room to spread their wings?

    I legit do not get that at all. Is there some thought that a longer story is better or more likely to win? Even if it's not as well written as a short one?
     
  15. Silirt

    Silirt Chief Warlock DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Some people just like writing.
     
  16. haphnepls

    haphnepls Sixth Year

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    Yeah. The most I've managed for comp is like 3500? Anyway, the way you presented your idea, feels too forced to me, and it would, I fear, draw all the fun away from me. I guess it could work in some cases, and maybe it's time to spice things up a bit but I don't think this is the way to do it.

    I won't say writing is always flowers, but competitions, such as they are, serve to me mostly as something to keep me in HP (both in terms of writing and reading), and to take my mind away from the things that I struggle to write but want to write. So, yeah, I want them to keep happening, in any form available, but longer ones seem too much like commitment, and that's kind of an eh for this sort of thing.

    This free-style Harry Potter flash thing attracted a lot of attention, but now I'm kinda wondering would the opposite accomplish the same. It may come off as ironic given what I've just said, but perhaps have one Q much more restricted? Like with a bunch of pools to decide on tense, POV, theme, or whatever you can come up with.

    I think that even then we would get completely different stories, of all flavors and at least one to the taste of any potential reader. Could be a good exercise at the very least.
     
  17. Microwave

    Microwave Professor

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    Obviously the trick is to have more Daphne Greengrass prompts.
     
  18. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Chief Warlock DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    It's a lot that's a little.

    The one time I tried to write with an idea it'd be a short story, a novella that was near the word count, I imagined it to be a much bigger space than it turned out to be. And, pre cuts to try and desperately get it in the comp, A World Without Secrecy was what, I think like 28,000 words?

    People are bad at estimating how long things take, how big they'll end up, and where things can be trimmed or not.

    I will say, I think limitation is the font of creativity. A short story by the same writer is often better than a long one. A weird prompt often makes something a little more clever than their writing in their own time, by the same writer. That's what I've noticed across all these rounds.
     
  19. soczab

    soczab Professor

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    Speaking personally, its because mmm. You associate certain types of stories with word length. And sure i COULD plot a 5k story tech in a up to 17,500 story. But in my head I see the word count and im going "ok, so this is a multi chapter short story..." and i just plot accordingly.

    I could do otherwise but i suppose i start down that path. And IMO a 17.5k story is very different from a 5k one
     
  20. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Minimum word count for the major/normal competitions will be raised from 50 to 500.
     
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