over 16000

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.

over 16000

Postby lukelove » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:28 am

Does anybody know of any entry in an WOTF anthology over 16,000 words. I mean if wasen't possible why would the cap be 17,000 why not just make it 10,000 if that's what the wanted?
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Re: over 16000

Postby J'nae Rae » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:47 am

I don't know the answer to the question of their being any over 16000, but consider this, whether or not any winning entry has been at or near their max word count has nothing to do with whether or not they are that long. Some stories take more words to tell, some less. If the quality of the longer stories is less than the quality of the shorter stories that quarter it will be the shorter ones that win. That doesn't mean that they prefer stories up to 10000 words.
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Re: over 16000

Postby LTom » Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:01 am

I'm uncertain of the volume number, but Steve Savile said that he was at the 17,000 limit for his winning entry and not a word less. Last year's published finalist "The Pushbike Legion" by Timothy Jordan was probably around that length too. It was the longest story in the volume.

That said, the story should be the length it needs to be. A lot of longer stories by newer writers don't need to be that long and suffer from too much padding. When I won at 13000 words Kevin J Anderson said that he saw the length of my story and groaned about how he was going to have to read it all (he forgave me, because it was good wotf008).
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Re: over 16000

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:46 am

LTom wrote:I'm uncertain of the volume number, but Steve Savile said that he was at the 17,000 limit for his winning entry and not a word less. Last year's published finalist "The Pushbike Legion" by Timothy Jordan was probably around that length too. It was the longest story in the volume.

That said, the story should be the length it needs to be. A lot of longer stories by newer writers don't need to be that long and suffer from too much padding. When I won at 13000 words Kevin J Anderson said that he saw the length of my story and groaned about how he was going to have to read it all (he forgave me, because it was good wotf008).


Point of order: it was great!

And much as I appreciate Kevin, he should've trusted K.D.: she wouldn't send him a bad one.
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Re: over 16000

Postby emilymccosh » Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:35 am

I just entered my first story in WotF and it is a little over 16,000 words. I think the story needed to be that long but I'm a little scared for it... wotf017
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Re: over 16000

Postby s_c_baker » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:12 pm

emilymccosh wrote:I just entered my first story in WotF and it is a little over 16,000 words. I think the story needed to be that long but I'm a little scared for it... wotf017

Only one way to find out, right? Good luck! wotf007
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Re: over 16000

Postby Tielore » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:48 am

I just submitted one at almost 17k (just shy by a hundred words or so). And I'm nervous after reading all these posts on length now. But, ,my first draft was 22k and took me a ton of focused effort to trim it down. I let it sit a couple months, and went through it one last time before submission to see if I could strip it down any more, and couldn't find anything I felt I could remove. Cross my fingers.
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Re: over 16000

Postby amoskalik » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:15 am

Tielore wrote:I just submitted one at almost 17k (just shy by a hundred words or so). And I'm nervous after reading all these posts on length now. But, ,my first draft was 22k and took me a ton of focused effort to trim it down. I let it sit a couple months, and went through it one last time before submission to see if I could strip it down any more, and couldn't find anything I felt I could remove. Cross my fingers.


Good luck. I stripped mine from 18,500 down to 14,500 or so, but based on the formatting and all that, I'm still not sure it's short enough, but if not, it wasn't for a lack of trying and as they say, only one way to find out.
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Re: over 16000

Postby Ishmael » Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:59 pm

And here comes the old wet blanket to remind everyone that a 'word' is not a word.

A 'word' (WotF definition) is 1/250th of the printable space on a page if you are set up with the correct margins and in 12 pt Courier New font. A word on the other hand is a collection of letters that your word processor counts as a verbal unit. The latter is not standard; the former is. There is therefore a significant discrepancy between the two.

Hence 17,000 'words' (WotF definition) = 68 pages.

Now in my case (at approximately 218 real words per page) that makes top whack for the contest about 14,800 actual words.

Allegedly.

But if you write 16,999 actual words and it's brilliant I doubt they will reject it on length.

I am beginning to sound like a broken record....record....record.....record.... wotf016
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Re: over 16000

Postby dr-phil » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:09 am

The 250 words per page is based on the old typewritten manuscript and typesetting skills. Some people still use it. However, most new writers are familiar with Microsoft Word's Word Count function.

Okay, this is getting long, so if your eyes glaze over, I apologize...

The important thing to know about Word Count is that what it calls a word or not is sometimes surprising. I had a story which went to a market just under their limit - and was rejected as too long. Turned out that one of my usual final formatting issues is to do Ctrl-H space-^=-space space-^~-hyphen-space -- which turns an endash into a non-breaking double-hyphen**. Looks better in Courier New. But, space-^=-space isn't a word, while space-^~-hyphen-space is.

Also beware of page counts. Microsoft Word is notorious for generating different page lengths for the same identical document: (1) between different versions of Word, (2) different default printer drivers, when you are printing out the file or not, and (3) whether you have Widows and Orphan controls on. ***

This came up when submitting to the Barcelona novella contest -- not sure if its still going -- which had both a maximum and minimum word count and page count. My story couldn't pass both, until I monkeyed with the formatting and submitted it as Times New Roman 11. (!!) And I tried Word Count, 250 words/page, and Average # of my words / my page.

Also infuriating that Hewlett-Packard inkjet and laser printers do microspacing just differently enough, that the drivers will not use the same line and page breaks on the same document. Creating a PDF introduces yet a third page length. So be careful if someone is telling you to fix something on Page 57 -- without knowing how their printout is formatted or PDF versus printout, you may be looking at the wrong place. (evil-grin)

Bottom line -- if you actually know what a market's acceptable use for word count is (Word's word count, page count, 250 words/page, etc.), use that. Otherwise, in 2015, I'd go with Word Count, because arguing about Microsoft -- that ship sailed a LONG time ago.

Dr. Phil

** -- so the double-hyphen isn't split at the end of the line, which looks dorky.

*** -- Widows and Orphans have to do with page breaks that occur with one line leftover either at the bottom or the top of the page. If engaged, it will make sure the breakover has at least two lines in the offending paragraph.

To make sure you maximize your page use -- and therefore give you the minimum page count -- do the following: Ctrl-A (Select All), Right-click | Paragraph | Line and Page Breaks | clear ALL four boxes for Widows and Orphans, Keep lines together, Keep with next, Page break before. NOTE: These boxes may be Checked, Gray-checked or Grayed boxes (your text has a mixture of these features turned on and off, or Unchecked. So you may have to click each box twice.

You'd think that this feature was sticky, that it would remember, but for another of Word's quirks. Word places formatting at the END of bits. So if you backspace to fix something or paste or edit over something, you may well delete a control code. I have taken to routinely resetting Widows and Orphans, no matter what defaults I am using.

This more or less applies to Microsoft Word 6.0/95, 97, 2003, 2010 and 2013 for Windows. I don't have other versions.
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Re: over 16000

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:15 am

Sharon Joss' recent win "Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light" calculates at about 18239 in Microsoft Word. When reformatted into Courier New 12 pt and double spaced, it is about 82 or 83 pages in length. Using a standard count (250 per page), that would be about 20,500 words.
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Re: over 16000

Postby s_c_baker » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:52 am

I asked Sharon if she could come comment about her story (but I'm not sure she's on the forum, so don't know if she will).

Did you copy/paste the entire story into Word? Just from copying a few pages, it looks like the wordcount per page is between 256 and 350 a page (accounting for whitespace caused by section breaks, and the little poems that start off each section). If the average is in the low 300s, it's probably still below the threshold, word-count wise. It may also be that the actual word-count as reported by some program or another is being used now, rather than doing it the old-fashioned way. (Although I seem to recall seeing somewhere that Dave still uses the old-fashioned way.)

(I'm not sure it's necessary or useful to bring this up in two threads at once, by the way. People will see it just fine in the other one, and now there's going to be two parallel discussions about it...)
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Re: over 16000

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:05 am

Thanks for your reply. I'd love to hear from Sharon about her story!

To answer your questions: I imported the whole story into Word and converted it to "standard" format (1 inch margins, Courier New, 12 pt, double-spaced). My comment was relevant to both threads in which I posted it, since each thread has a slightly different focus. In this thread, I meant for it to be merely informational. In the other, I posted it as a question.
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Re: over 16000

Postby Sharon » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:25 am

I'm here! wotf006

Here's the deal. The story I submitted for the CONTEST was 16,537 words. Under the 17000 length limit, but it was tight.

After I won Q4, and Dave was doing edits for the anthology, VOL 31, I had to add almost 2000 words to the story. I was very uncomfortable with this, but he told me not to worry about the word count. The story had already been judged, and I'd already won Q4 with my submission. The judges for the Golden Pen see and judge that story, not the story published in the anthology.

Dave's job as the anthology editor is different than his job as a judge. And for the anthology, he wants the very best stories possible. So one of the great perks (that you don't hear about) about winning WOTF is that your story will get David Farland as an editor, and believe me, the line edits from Dave were amazing. Mine was 80 pages, and redlines on nearly every page. After (the shock of all that red on my 'great' story), I made the edits (and I did not agree to all his suggestions), I thanked him and told him that the experience was like kneeling at the feet of master Yoda. I learned so much from his edits! Most were little, tiny things, like adding a bit of setting or sensory element, but they added up.

So there you go. What you submit is what you are judged on.
But once you win, your story gets edited for the anthology just like any other pro anthology. It could get longer or shorter, your milage may vary.

Hope this helps!
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Re: over 16000

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:31 am

Very helpful response. Thanks so much for taking the time to post. And congratulations on your win! I loved your story.
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Re: over 16000

Postby s_c_baker » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:57 pm

That's really fascinating to know as someone who's just won, too! wotf007
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Re: over 16000

Postby Imagination Vortex » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:22 pm

I agree this is fascinating news! I had always assumed that your story had to be perfect or else it's not going to make finalist. That includes every paragraph, every sentence, all the grammar, ect. Especially when reading Dave's tips they always gave me the impression that if he spots even one error that's a strike against the story, and so many strikes you get rejected. So it's suprising to know a story could win and have red marks on every page! That makes it less intimidating (although I still believe I will strive to submit a "perfect" story no matter what!)
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Re: over 16000

Postby s_c_baker » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:50 pm

I found two typos in my winning entry right after the winners were announced. Go figure, right? wotf001
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Re: over 16000

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:57 pm

Imagination Vortex wrote:I agree this is fascinating news! I had always assumed that your story had to be perfect or else it's not going to make finalist. That includes every paragraph, every sentence, all the grammar, ect. Especially when reading Dave's tips they always gave me the impression that if he spots even one error that's a strike against the story, and so many strikes you get rejected. So it's suprising to know a story could win and have red marks on every page! That makes it less intimidating (although I still believe I will strive to submit a "perfect" story no matter what!)


There are no perfect stories.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good." -- Voltaire

"Dare to be bad." -- Dean Wesley Smith

Do the best you can, but don't let fear of imperfection hold you back. Dave's edits come long after Dave's judging, and they involve a different part of his brain. In judging, he's asking, "Is this good?" In editing, he's asking, "How can this be better?"
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Re: over 16000

Postby MattDovey » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:25 pm

Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:
Imagination Vortex wrote:I agree this is fascinating news! I had always assumed that your story had to be perfect or else it's not going to make finalist. That includes every paragraph, every sentence, all the grammar, ect. Especially when reading Dave's tips they always gave me the impression that if he spots even one error that's a strike against the story, and so many strikes you get rejected. So it's suprising to know a story could win and have red marks on every page! That makes it less intimidating (although I still believe I will strive to submit a "perfect" story no matter what!)


There are no perfect stories.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good." -- Voltaire

"Dare to be bad." -- Dean Wesley Smith

Do the best you can, but don't let fear of imperfection hold you back. Dave's edits come long after Dave's judging, and they involve a different part of his brain. In judging, he's asking, "Is this good?" In editing, he's asking, "How can this be better?"


Bearing in mind I don't have any authority on this topic, and am but a blind fool groping in the darkness for enlightenment... no story will ever be perfect, as no painting will be, no film will be, no song will be. Art is never finished, it is only abandoned, quite apart from the fact that "perfect" is an impossible proposition for a subjective opinion.

But grammar isn't subjective; grammar is objective, and it can be perfect. Now I don't think stories need to be run past English professors, and obscure mistakes known only to those bespectacled warriors of literature will probably be excused, but elementary mistakes show a lack of care, IMHO. I would absolutely expect to be judged on my grammar in a submitted story with any market, because if an author didn't care enough to check for such basics, they've probably not put much effort into the other parts of their story.

There are aspects of grammar that are arguably subjective--debates over the relative merits of semi-colons versus full-stops, for example--but you should aim for technical perfection, I think. If nothing else, why risk the chance of being rejected on such minor technicalities?

tl;dr: aim for technical perfection, but character and plot perfection is beyond anyone, let alone us amateurs :)
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Re: over 16000

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:31 am

MattDovey wrote:But grammar isn't subjective; grammar is objective, and it can be perfect. Now I don't think stories need to be run past English professors, and obscure mistakes known only to those bespectacled warriors of literature will probably be excused, but elementary mistakes show a lack of care, IMHO. I would absolutely expect to be judged on my grammar in a submitted story with any market, because if an author didn't care enough to check for such basics, they've probably not put much effort into the other parts of their story.
tl;dr: aim for technical perfection, but character and plot perfection is beyond anyone, let alone us amateurs :)


Haha. Good points. Although I could argue that ALL of grammar is subjective (the hegemonic forces of monolog don't want us to believe that, of course), but I won't. I'm sure Martin would agree that we should all strive for "technical perfection" in our work. I think he was referring mostly to the qualitative aspects of the work.
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Re: over 16000

Postby Ishmael » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:02 am

We have repeatedly noted the difference between UK English and American English spelling. Somewhat less obvious but certainly noticeable are grammar and idiom discrepancies. (These run way beyond the previously discussed tendency of US English to dispense with the perfect tense or of UK English to insert that before certain types of subordinate clause.)

I suspect this means that American written by an Englishman or English written by an American will always tend to stand out to some extent in the eyes of a native speaker of either language.

I should like to think that this sort of thing would be ignored in the judging and standardised in the editing too.

On the other hand, should I ever be so fortunate as to be published in the annual, I shall have to swallow very hard before allowing redundant prepositions to be inserted between my transitive verbs and their objects!
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Re: over 16000

Postby orbivillein » Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:31 am

Writers versed in different regional English dialects might wonder to no end why they differ and why one might suit one story and not another. Diction and syntax in particular vary from individual to individual and region to region. Let alone distinct pronunciations and accents of spoken word. Prose publication spoken-word emulations generally follow a type of universal-like English dialect -- the so-labeled Standard Written English that results from rigid adherence to grammar principles, that no one fully does anyway. The missed potentials for regional dialects and accents abound and leave only a pea-green soup muddle of sameness.

So a scholar posed a rhetorical question, more than one scholar, linguists too. Why do dialects vary? A simple response is different language influences and origins from different sources. European continental languages shape British English more than U.S. English. Meso American languages shape U.S. English more than British English.

A complex response is regional environments shape language subtly. Noisy urban settings' and hard, sound reflective surfaces result in fast, accentuated speech and consequent suited word choice and syntax -- more accented consonants and sharper vowel sounds that rise above background hubbub so that speech is heard. Thus shorter words and sentences and selections of hard consonant sounds. Rural settings' softer surfaces and quieter noises -- the opposite happens, where a slow whisper is louder and clearer than a fast yell. Although, Western countries are now urbanized to around eighty-plus percent.

Long erudite speeches aren't heard in a crowded nightclub. Short uncomplicated slow speech is heard in a rustic setting. How many stories I've read that miss how setting shapes speech and thought and story length -- not to mention how affected speech and writing develops characterization, though often overdone or underdone.

That is, for example, that that "that" use is _that_ sort of affectation. "That" has pronoun, conjunction, adjective, and adverb parts of speech uses. The adverb use as a particle word connects a transitive or intransitive verb to an object sans preposition. In a crowded and noisy setting, such speech sounds like a machine-gun stutter. Out in the woods, possibly like gibberish. Simplified and gentrified -- Affected speech is of a type. In other words, application of grammar and dialect customs could shorten word count, enhance clarity and emotional strength, and develop characterization.
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Re: over 16000

Postby s_c_baker » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:27 pm

Ishmael wrote:We have repeatedly noted the difference between UK English and American English spelling. Somewhat less obvious but certainly noticeable are grammar and idiom discrepancies. (These run way beyond the previously discussed tendency of US English to dispense with the perfect tense or of UK English to insert that before certain types of subordinate clause.)

I should like to think that this sort of thing would be ignored in the judging and standardised in the editing too.

As a UK-born US-living person, OH MY HALIBUT THE LACK OF PAST PERFECT IN WRITING DRIVES ME TOTALLY CRAZY.

I actually somehow never realized the "that"ing was UK English. Happy to report that both these things were ignored in the judging at least where my story was concerned. Plenty of thats and hads in winning entry. Heck, there's even one sentence that has a "had [verb]ed that [subordinate clause]" in it! We'll see if they survive Dave's edit. wotf007
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Re: over 16000

Postby Dustin Adams » Wed Sep 30, 2015 5:49 am

Thanks Sharon,

Very cool to hear/see some behind the scenes info.
I remember Tina saying Dave asked her to add a quick scene at one point, but I didn't realize he poured over each page that way. Makes sense, of course, but it's one thing to think it, another to know it.
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