Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Dustan Moon
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Dustan Moon » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:01 am

The ceremony was excellent, and proves why this contest is such a great launching pad for a writer's career. Unless you get to the Academy Awards after this, you have had the most opulent gala awards event at the START of your career, which is what Hubbard envisioned, of course. A big key to success is believing in oneself. This contest is engineered to make you believe in yourself. With a launch like that, you can only head for the stars, which so many before you have proved is true.

Congratulations to all the winners! Enjoy the feel of a book in your hand, with your words inside to inspire readers. And it's fun being an author, it's fun doing the signings, but don't forget you are WRITERS.

And Matt? That was a helluva speech. Well done.

~Moon~

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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby emilymccosh » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:28 am

Ishmael wrote:Some of us are on only 10GB per month. Grrr.

But if I can't watch the show, at least I can say congratulations to Matt and all the other winners. The Forum scores again.

wotf007


I know the feeling...going to the library to get some free wifi. wotf019
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Muri McCage » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:05 am

Another limited data person here. Congrats to Matt and the other winners. Hang on to that amazing feeling of flying with your feet still on the ground. May your flights continue to soar on the wings of words.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Tamlyn » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:38 am

Congrats to Matt and all the winners!

I hope to get a chance to watch the ceremony this weekend.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby MattDovey » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:01 pm

Thank you one, thank you all!

Home safe, exhausted, and headed straight back out to the London Book Fair tomorrow. Deep joy.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby s_c_baker » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:21 pm

Hi all!

I've been scarce (work has inexplicably started having firewall issues with this site and my brain is still in post-workshop overload mode), but I wanted to pop in and share a couple of things Dave Farland mentioned during the workshop while explicitly talking about common problems he runs into with contest stories that didn't make the HM-or-higher cut.

Words below are my own paraphrases of what he said and any errors they contain are my own. (Stuff in parentheses are my own thoughts on what he means.)

Every story which gets an HM or better has setting, character, and conflict in the first two pages, and makes the reader cry (that is: it affects them emotionally in some way) in the denouement.

Stories which Dave rejects are often those which do not turn into being about the reader in some way. As Dave put it, "This was a story about things happening to other people." (I think this has to do with a story's protagonists having to be relatable to the audience, and the struggles they face being those people can identify with in some way--but I might be wrong.)

Something like 3 out of 10 entries to the contest start with someone waking up. (This doesn't mean you can't do it--just that you have to have something else in there that's really original and grabbing to stand out from the crowd.)

Beautiful or engrossing prose can make Dave look past an otherwise cliche opening.

Dave also mentioned at one point that he considers all the stories with HMs and above to more or less be publishable (although I suspect he meant with some revision in some cases?), just not necessarily contest winners. He mentioned there being something like 168 of these a quarter, and noted that we winners may have come out on top, but that really the difference in quality between our stories and non-winning stories was sometimes purely a matter of taste.

So take heart! Those of you with HMs. They really do mean something.

Good luck out there, entrants. wotf009
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby preston » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:49 pm

s_c_baker wrote:Hi all!

I've been scarce (work has inexplicably started having firewall issues with this site and my brain is still in post-workshop overload mode), but I wanted to pop in and share a couple of things Dave Farland mentioned during the workshop while explicitly talking about common problems he runs into with contest stories that didn't make the HM-or-higher cut.

Words below are my own paraphrases of what he said and any errors they contain are my own. (Stuff in parentheses are my own thoughts on what he means.)

Every story which gets an HM or better has setting, character, and conflict in the first two pages, and makes the reader cry (that is: it affects them emotionally in some way) in the denouement.

Stories which Dave rejects are often those which do not turn into being about the reader in some way. As Dave put it, "This was a story about things happening to other people." (I think this has to do with a story's protagonists having to be relatable to the audience, and the struggles they face being those people can identify with in some way--but I might be wrong.)

Something like 3 out of 10 entries to the contest start with someone waking up. (This doesn't mean you can't do it--just that you have to have something else in there that's really original and grabbing to stand out from the crowd.)

Beautiful or engrossing prose can make Dave look past an otherwise cliche opening.

Dave also mentioned at one point that he considers all the stories with HMs and above to more or less be publishable (although I suspect he meant with some revision in some cases?), just not necessarily contest winners. He mentioned there being something like 168 of these a quarter, and noted that we winners may have come out on top, but that really the difference in quality between our stories and non-winning stories was sometimes purely a matter of taste.

So take heart! Those of you with HMs. They really do mean something.

Good luck out there, entrants. wotf009



Great stuff, Stuart. Thank you. And yeah, I've heard about the taboo of starting a story with somebody waking up. I had a story like that, which received an R from the contest and pretty much everywhere I sent it. I still liked the story though. Then I heard about this taboo, took out the first sentence only, and the story sold next time out! One day I might start a story with the character waking up, but not right now.

This was my favorite paragraph of Stuart's post:
Dave also mentioned at one point that he considers all the stories with HMs and above to more or less be publishable (although I suspect he meant with some revision in some cases?), just not necessarily contest winners. He mentioned there being something like 168 of these a quarter, and noted that we winners may have come out on top, but that really the difference in quality between our stories and non-winning stories was sometimes purely a matter of taste.

It's like I kind of suspected. If you can get into the pool of HMs, then you've got a chance. Just get into the pool! And being in the top 168 out of "several thousand" is also nice.

Cross your fingers!

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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby MattDovey » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:18 pm

Further to Dave's preferences--and I think the most important point to reiterate is conflict up front, any conflict, not necessarily the big plot conflict but something in the first two pages--one point mentioned by a lot of the other judges was the need for scientific accuracy in your SF. You've got Dr Doug Beason and Dr Greg Benford and Larry Niven and Jerry Purnelle reading these things, people who have built careers on hard SF. That doesn't mean you have to be hard SF to win--I just won with an alt-historical fantasy, much to Jerry Pournelle's disgruntlement*--but that if you do use science, make sure it's accurate. Better to leave it out and only hint at it than get something wrong.

*Sean Williams tells me that Jerry was wandering around the signing and loudly grumbling, "I can't believe they let a fantasy story win!" This amuses me greatly.
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Ishmael
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Ishmael » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:03 am

Thanks to both our Forum winners for their observations. This is really helpful stuff.

May we conclude that Jerry will be doubly determined to make sure SF wins in 33/1? wotf011
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OldDarth
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby OldDarth » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:28 am

Thanks for sharing those points from Dave gents.

Wonder what differentiates a Silver Honourable Mention from a Honourable Mention....
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KD Julicher
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby KD Julicher » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:11 am

OldDarth wrote:
Wonder what differentiates a Silver Honourable Mention from a Honourable Mention....


This is just a guess, but I bet a SHM is one that made it into the "potential finalists" pile that gets a (third?) look from Dave.

Also sometimes we've speculated that he tries to pick one story from each of say 8 subgenres each quarter. While I do think he strives for diversity of stories, my Q4 finalist was a secondary-world fantasy story about a young rogue taking his first step to redemption. When you pick up your copy of the anthology, take a close look at the excellent "Jack of Souls" by Stephen Merlino - it straight up beat me in Q4 and deservedly so. His worldbuilding in that story was far better than mine in my Q4 finalist. But while his winning story and my losing story took our themes in very very different ways, I personally think there was a lot of overlap there.

Or in Q2, Stewart's story and Ryan Row's could both be broadly said to be "post-apocalyptic SF".

So don't worry too much about "Oh, everyone is going to submit hard SF this quarter, maybe I should write fantasy even though that's not my thing.". Just work on telling the best hard SF piece you've got in you.
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Randy Hulshizer
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:29 am

Thanks to all for this excellent discussion. wotf009
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Imagination Vortex » Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:39 am

I had wondered too about silver hm only because they used to be rare but now there's about 25 or so in each quarter. I had guessed perhaps these were the ones that made it to the top 50 - his final pile where he puts them in categories and then picks the top 8 which go on to be Finalist.

I agree it's nice to hear that HM's are publishable, because sometimes it's easy to forget you did beat out thousands of stories. Perhaps the feeling comes from it being one level higher than a rejection, I start to feel like it's passable as a story but won't really go on to make it anywhere else.

Hearing about the waking up cliche is funny because that used to be me! You'd have thought I'd have learned my lesson after submitting my first waking up intro, but I went on to submit 4 more the same way! Also my very very first entry was about unicorns but we won't even go there.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby amoskalik » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:03 am

I had story that got rejected that starts with the main character waking up, but it was central to the plot (time travel) that the story start there. There was really no other way to do it wotf017
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby MattDovey » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:09 am

It's not that you can't do these things, it's just that you're submitting on Hard mode, writing with a handicap. If 30% of submitted stories start that way, you've got to do so much more to stand out, and you have to do it fast to convince DF you're someone who knows what you're doing. If you start with the cliché opening on purpose, to later twist it/send it up, you run the risk of no-one ever getting that far because they've already written it off as the thing you're lampooning.

Whereas if you start with an angry wife astride her twelve-foot striped battle frog, herding her cowardly husbands forward into battle at pikepoint to face down a demon made of storm clouds, and trying to keep her focus and not worry about her sister giving birth back home to the child, a child fathered by a man bad for her sister but her sister can't see it, well... it's more likely to catch the attention than "Callum woke up with a start, with no idea of where he was, or--no--not even who he was, beyond the uncertain idea that he was Callum." wotf001
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Randy Hulshizer
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:22 am

MattDovey wrote:...an angry wife astride her twelve-foot striped battle frog, herding her cowardly husbands forward into battle at pikepoint to face down a demon made of storm clouds, and trying to keep her focus and not worry about her sister giving birth back home to the child, a child fathered by a man bad for her sister but her sister can't see it, well...


Hahahaha! wotf019
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby emilymccosh » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:28 am

MattDovey wrote:Whereas if you start with an angry wife astride her twelve-foot striped battle frog, herding her cowardly husbands forward into battle at pikepoint to face down a demon made of storm clouds, and trying to keep her focus and not worry about her sister giving birth back home to the child, a child fathered by a man bad for her sister but her sister can't see it, well...


Huh...that's actually not half-bad wotf019
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby george nik. » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:58 pm

s_c_baker wrote:
Something like 3 out of 10 entries to the contest start with someone waking up.


Presumably about 7 out of 10 entries start with someone who's already awake. Now is that a cliche or what? wotf002
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby amoskalik » Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:26 pm

george nik. wrote:
s_c_baker wrote:
Something like 3 out of 10 entries to the contest start with someone waking up.


Presumably about 7 out of 10 entries start with someone who's already awake. Now is that a cliche or what? wotf002


Total lack of imagination is what that is.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby KD Julicher » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:00 pm

george nik. wrote:Presumably about 7 out of 10 entries start with someone who's already awake. Now is that a cliche or what? wotf002


So... you were being funny.... but from what I gather, a significant quantity of stories don't start with "someone" at all, but with a location shot or a description of a rock or a history of the world...

I, uh, don't think those stories fare very well with Dave.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby s_c_baker » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:27 pm

I was going to comment that, amusingly enough, my winning story's opening WAS mostly setting description, but then I looked at it again:

The air on the cliffs above the Shattered Sea was hot as a furnace and twice as dry. Still, Driss couldn’t suppress a shiver at the way the shimmering message-globe moved through the sky, dozens of meters above the churning, black waves of the sea.


So there's setting, character, and an implied conflict in the first paragraph.

So...

Shows what I know. wotf007
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:56 am

Waiting until May 4th for the anthology is hard. Argh! wotf012
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby zali » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:12 pm

Some great pointers here! Thanks to the winners for sharing. Gives me some ideas for rewrites (if I ever get around to them wotf002 ).
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby MattDovey » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:41 am

Randy Hulshizer wrote:Waiting until May 4th for the anthology is hard. Argh! wotf012


So I shouldn't casually mention that I have ten copies within a metre of me? wotf001

Hopefully--hopefully--ASI will get eARCs to us soon, and then we'll totally be tapping you guys up for day 1 Amazon reviews based on them. So pay attention ;)
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Randy Hulshizer
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:04 pm

MattDovey wrote:
Randy Hulshizer wrote:Waiting until May 4th for the anthology is hard. Argh! wotf012


So I shouldn't casually mention that I have ten copies within a metre of me? wotf001

Hopefully--hopefully--ASI will get eARCs to us soon, and then we'll totally be tapping you guys up for day 1 Amazon reviews based on them. So pay attention ;)


I've pre-ordered the Kindle version, so as soon as I read it, I'll post my review. wotf008
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby s_c_baker » Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:47 pm

I sent an email to ASI about the e-ARCs. We only have about a week left, after all...
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby OldDarth » Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:13 pm

I'm in the same boat as Randy. Waiting for the Kindle version to land.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby MattDovey » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:59 am

Not quite got all the illustrations up yet (as I've not yet been given all of them!), but most of the stories now have their art up on wotf32.com. Go have a look and drool away!

8 days...
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby OldDarth » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:41 am

Thanks for the link Matt.

Gorgeous stuff there.
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Re: Volume 32 (2016)--Anthology, Workshop & Gala

Postby storysinger » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:53 am

Enjoyed the preview Matt.
Raised my anticipation level for the book even higher.
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