Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Wulf Moon
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Wulf Moon » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:20 am

Good points, Jon! This is what happens on the editorial side before a story in WotF goes to the publishing team, and frankly, any other publication as well. No one should be surprised about that. The story already won on its own merits. Now, it's no longer a contest entry, it's a widget that has to fit into a professional publication under the critical eye of the editor of the publication, which our coordinating judge David Farland now flips his hat to become. The editorial changes do not mean a story gets rewritten--if that were the case, it would not have won. But an editor is a trained professional--he can see flaws in a story and points that are unclear, and is obliged to point them out for the benefit of the author's reputation, for the publication's reputation, and for the reader's enjoyment of a smooth read. That said, this next comment will make you gasp. While a story MUST be 17K words or under to meet guidelines, after acceptance, with Dave's edits it may end up in the book OVER the contest word count. Surprise! It's not a contest entry anymore--it's a widget now, and if a story is missing a full tooth on a gear to work properly, you have to solder in that tooth. Point is, after the contest is won, the regular world of how a story gets published goes into effect.

Just win the contest like Jon here did. Then you'll get to see how it works. : )

Fortune favor the brave,

~Moon~

Henckel
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Henckel » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:07 pm

jficke13 wrote:
.....If you think of this less as a contest and more of a market, then it's fairly common for there to be a copy edit/proof process....

.....I have heard of winners who had no or virtually no edits. I have heard of at least one winner that was asked to add a significant portion. So, honestly....

wotf017



thanks jficke13!!! that's the distinction I was struggling to find.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby zeeteebeez » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:00 am

Hey all,

Been in and out of the contest over the last few years. Racked up a few HM's and a couple R's.

Got a lot in my personal/day job world keeping me from writing as much as I'd like, but I suspect that 2019 will be my year to commit to putting words on screens more consistently.

So my question to all of you is this: how would you suggest immersing myself in this (or other sff) writing community? I have no friends in the "real world" that are also writers. I feel I need the support of like minded people.

Sorry for being off topic. More on topic: I plan to submit a story I've been working on for about a year now this quarter. So hurrah to finishing things.
Z.T.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby storysinger » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:19 am

Welcome to the forum Z.T..
This is a community of like minded writers engaged in improving one another's skill level at writing.
Any question you need answered can usually be addressed by someone here.

Write on.
HM-1
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
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orbivillein
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby orbivillein » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:31 am

zeeteebeez wrote:-- So my question to all of you is this: how would you suggest immersing myself in this (or other sff) writing community? I have no friends in the "real world" that are also writers. I feel I need the support of like minded people. ---

Develop a vocabulary list of grammar, craft, expression, and appeal strengths and shortfalls, of one's own writing and fiction read. Bring those topics for discussion.

I started a writer lexicon-glossary-vocabulary years ago, a few dozen at first, more than thousands now, each now exhaustively self-studied, defined, and explained, some terms rarely used and many often misused and misunderstood.

A strong, productive start might consider samples of "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," edited by Clarion workshops' David Smith, SFWA hosted, and "Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for SF Workshops," Edited by Lewis Shiner, Second Edition by Bruce Sterling, SFWA hosted.

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orbivillein
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby orbivillein » Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:43 pm

Henckel wrote:
morganb wrote:
Whaaat...? You mean you get to REVISE your story before it's actually published, if you're one of the quarterly winners?


~Morgan


Not that I'm aware of. I'd just assumed that Dave (or someone) made final edits or such before final version is published. I was just wondering to what extent their changes are....

...its the sort of ftuff I think about when I can sleep.

Farland is the editor for volumes 31 through 34.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby zeeteebeez » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:05 am

I've noticed there tends to be a relatively low number of stories that make it into the anthology every year that are alternate world fantasy. At least more recently. It seems most fantasy I see as winners in the contest lately tend to be some blend of modern/contemporary/urban fantasy.

I know alternate world fantasy generally takes a higher word count to world build, which can mean longer, and slower, stories.

Do you think this is the main reason? Or is there more at play in terms of judgers taste, etc.?

The story I've been working on will likely come in around the 15k word mark, and I've been focusing my efforts into keeping the wordbuilding succinct. But I'd be interested in everyone's opinion of that subgenre in this contest historically.
Z.T.

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KD Julicher
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby KD Julicher » Fri Aug 24, 2018 6:11 am

zeeteebeez wrote:I've noticed there tends to be a relatively low number of stories that make it into the anthology every year that are alternate world fantasy. At least more recently. It seems most fantasy I see as winners in the contest lately tend to be some blend of modern/contemporary/urban fantasy.

I know alternate world fantasy generally takes a higher word count to world build, which can mean longer, and slower, stories.

Do you think this is the main reason? Or is there more at play in terms of judgers taste, etc.?

The story I've been working on will likely come in around the 15k word mark, and I've been focusing my efforts into keeping the wordbuilding succinct. But I'd be interested in everyone's opinion of that subgenre in this contest historically.



Secondary world fantasy - my personal playground - has had a hard time getting past some of the final judges. That is slowly changing, with the addition of more fantasy-friendly judges like Brandon Sanderson and the lamented passing of judges like Jerry Pournelle who were hard bars to cross (of my 4 finalists, Jerry judged at least 2. They weren't his taste. It's sort of a mixed feeling, one of my childhood heroes having read my work, at least, but not liking it.)

But it can and does succeed! At the very least, Dave Farland loves good fantasy and has had no problem making four of my secondary world pieces finalists, and even publishing one. The shortest of those was 9k,and the longest almost 15.
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orbivillein
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby orbivillein » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:12 am

Assessments of contest winner stories for years focus on story type: hard or soft science fiction? alternate world or history science fiction? epic fantasy? secondary setting fantasy (J.R.R. Tolkien's coin for alternate world)? contemporary fantasy (metropolitan, municipal, urban, suburban, rural, or wilderness)? Etc.?

A smallish craft guidance from Lewis Shiner is a profound, sublime, and productive approach to winner stratagems: "Edges of Ideas. The places where technology and background should come onstage: not the mechanics of a new event, gizmo, or political structure, but rather how people’s lives are affected by their new background. Example of excellence: the opening chapters of Orwell’s 1984. (Lewis Shiner)". ("Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," edited by Clarion workshops' David Smith, SFWA hosted.)

Paraphrased for secondary setting fantasy, all story settings, events, and characters: the occasions within a story where setting should come on stage: not the detailed mechanics, physical properties and appearances, or spectacles of time, place, and situation, but rather, how the relative and absolute settings' features dramatically affect "people's" lives. Examples of excellence: the opening and throughout of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien. The setting introductions and developments flow superliminally, liminally, and subliminally from the "Edges of Ideas" throughout, secondary and incidental to the story's dramatic movement of settings' influences on people's lives.

"Liminal 1: of or relating to a sensory threshold 2: barely perceptible 3: of, relating to, or being an intermediate stage, phase, or condition" (Webster's). Liminality is a Tolkien mastery for the One Ring cycle. Note many of the One Ring's dramatic settings are below ground, a barely perceptible liminal space, transitional between a figurative or actual death's grave, or Hell, or sanctuary therefrom, and robust or undisturbed life above ground. Mountain peaks are also liminal spaces -- close to the gods. Even a doorway or window or staircase poses liminality's transitional potentials, all but pose dramatic movement implications.

It is a doorway, obviously, made to pass through. Like the grass on the other side of the pasture fence, a fence a liminal space, curious what is on the other side? Is the grass greener on the other side? The other side of the mountain? This side, motivations to seek elsewhere. A horde of orcs at the back, fewer or none on the other side of the doorway? Oh no! A horde of goblins. Caught between the proverbial rock and the hard place, between an irresistible force and an immovable object. Edges of ideas are liminal and vice versa.

Liminality is a core feature of fantasy, regardless of genre, much of artful fiction's deft and covert setting developments, for that matter. Overwrought setting development, world building, as it were, hampers fiction appeals no end and is all too easily misunderstood, misused, or underdeveloped by all too many struggling writers.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby zeeteebeez » Sat Aug 25, 2018 5:25 am

KD Julicher wrote:

Secondary world fantasy - my personal playground - has had a hard time getting past some of the final judges. That is slowly changing, with the addition of more fantasy-friendly judges like Brandon Sanderson and the lamented passing of judges like Jerry Pournelle who were hard bars to cross (of my 4 finalists, Jerry judged at least 2. They weren't his taste. It's sort of a mixed feeling, one of my childhood heroes having read my work, at least, but not liking it.)

But it can and does succeed! At the very least, Dave Farland loves good fantasy and has had no problem making four of my secondary world pieces finalists, and even publishing one. The shortest of those was 9k,and the longest almost 15.


Thanks KD. I never really considered avoiding secondary world fantasy as Dave wouldn't be biased against it. My go to genre in both reading and writing is secondary world fantasy, so I've always noticed the lack of it after getting through the WOTF volumes. Good amount of fantasy stories, but most have a more modern setting. Do you think to some extent this could be due to the contest's desire to see something new and different? Thinking out loud. I'll still write what iove, but I'm trying to focus on how I can make the world and magic system around out as new and unique.
Z.T.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby vsutherland01 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:51 am

I think Dave get's tired of reading thousands of our overused tired ideas each year wotf019 . He talks about such topics in his blog. This contest is about being unique and creative, that's what wins.

There might be certain things to avoid but no amount of bias can stop a great story, so just write what you love. If it's creative and brilliant enough I bet you could win with a story about a old mage sitting on a stump wondering "how did it come to this?". That's essentially what sort of story Kingkiller Chronicles is and that series is beautiful and bestselling. It's all in the execution.
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orbivillein
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby orbivillein » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:22 am

Other labels for "secondary world fantasy," "alternate world," and "secondary settings" include "high fantasy," "low fantasy" for otherwise real-world setting milieus, and "metaphysical." Reimagined, reinvented, or innovated fantasy creations of high appeal span consideration and realization for each and all's distinctions and opposites. The metaphysical-mundane realms' categories are of particular substance.

Unfortunate that "mundane" was coined post circa 1990 to mean dull, banal, dreary. For within the earthly, mundane realm's contrasts to the metaphysical realm's is great story magic and vigorous dramatic potential. Metaphysical -- either or both spiritual and paranormal fantasy creations, creator dependent. Traditional folklore fantasy portrays one or both plus an overt message and moral expressed. Post-modern age reader skepticism and refusal of moralistic tableaus means message and moral would be deeply subtended though perceptible subtext.

One curious fantasy motif illustrates, magic craft of wizards, witches, warlocks, mages, etc., either or both spiritual and paranormal dramatic personas and milieus. Traditional magery folklore portrays more paranormal milieu contexts than spiritual though real-world across time more spiritual milieu contexts and spawned satanic panics. Plus, a mundane realm milieu category of magician prestidigitators, hedge alchemists, woodland apothecaries, and sojourner thaumaturges, etc., and crossovers between the several realms, milieus, motifs, and categories.

A subtext approach to an alternate world fantasy story might portray, say, why witches have been persecuted for all time. What do they symbolically represent, their subtext and subtext of their persecution? Disenchanted women who set themselves apart from, rebel against traditional patriarchal milieu dominions and suffer persecution for it? What a lively conflict!

However, as the general consensus notes, motifs and categories are less important than story craft appeals. Maybe fantasy, though, at least within WotF's realms, wants somewhat stronger subtext appeals than whatever science fiction types' appeals!?

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:11 am

Henckel wrote:Hi all. A quick question for off of you that have been published in the WOTF annual books. How different was your original story from the final published version? Did you find your stories required a lot of polishing/revision/editing? Or were there only minimal polishing edits??? (I'm gaging the standard for my Q3 entry. Looking back, I could have done a LOT better polishing it)

Tina could answer this, but I remember her saying Dave asked her to add an entire scene. It wasn't a long one, but more of a transition? Still, he's the editor, so if it needs something...
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby vsutherland01 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 8:19 am

Anyone else feel ready to submit? I don't know how much more I want to tweak this story. I kinda want to submit it now.
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby guthington » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:18 am

vsutherland01 wrote:Anyone else feel ready to submit? I don't know how much more I want to tweak this story. I kinda want to submit it now.


I know exactly that feeling. You've spent lots of time on the thing. Lived with it. Tweaked it. Edited it. And while once you were in love with the story now you just want it off your desk. Perhaps it is time to submit it. wotf009

I got my piece to under the 17K limit, but then I read some of the winning stories in Volume 33 and realized several things. 1. my entry may work if it is a longer piece (novel length), but for the purposes of a short story in this contest, it's too complicated and has too many points of view and involves two major settings (different planets). 2. I realize that the story arc works best for one of my characters who has a better than average built in growth trajectory. 3. Now I'm considering re-writing the whole thing from just that one point of view with me knowing the other stuff that is going on from other points of view (and it will cut the word count even more which I feel would make it more competitive). 4. I'm not in any hurry and being an academic, my day job is really demanding right now. wotf017 Anyway... I guess I'll see what happens with what I'm working on. The rules are pretty clear that I can't give away any hints of the actual plot on these forums. And... in some ways September 30 is miles away in the landscape. But... there is always the next quarter as well.

Good luck with your entry! wotf024
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vsutherland01
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby vsutherland01 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:32 am

Yeah I feel that way haha. My story is around 13K so it's a bit longer, and I don't think longer stories do as well. I can't think of any ways to shorten it without scrapping the idea and just writing something new. I do feel satisfied knowing that this idea has been taken as far as I can take it, now I am just fiddling with sentence structure and word choice. I wonder how much good that can do.
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby VinSev » Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:33 am

My suggestion? Post it when you're ready to post it, but do one thing first. Listen to it. If your computer and whatever software you're using have the read aloud capability, make use of it.

When I revisited my Q3 about a month after submitting, I listened to it and found five or six typos that I missed while in my fiddling stage, before I'd discovered the read capability. I didn't catch them just by reading the text because by that time I was so burnt out and done with the story that I had lost all perspective. But something about listening to it--I don't know if it's just having it read to you in another voice or what, but your brain catches those spoken typos.

It also allowed me to actually enjoy the story again, which I hadn't been able to when reading it myself. When I wasn't looking directly at every word and thinking, "man, this is a clumsy sentence," or something along those lines involving slightly more profanity, I was able to actually have fun enjoying the story itself, and accept that it was pretty okay. It was a refreshing change from being convinced it was hopelessly terrible.

Anyway, as someone who made the idiotic mistake of leaving typos in their submitted draft, I feel obligated to put this out there.

LISTEN TO YOUR STORY BEFORE YOU SUBMIT IT!!!!!! wotf039

Believe me, it's worth the agony you'd feel after looking back and realizing that Dave is going to be getting a face-full of typos when he reads your story.

Just a suggestion wotf001

-Vin
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby vsutherland01 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:03 am

Hey! Thanks for the response Vin.

That is a great suggestion. I will make that my final pass through. I will have my computer dictate it to me and if I can stomach how it sounds out loud I will be ready to submit it haha.

I am using google docs and I will see if they have a 'read aloud' option.
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby DoctorJest » Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:57 pm

Blargh, I'm not going to make the submission deadline this quarter. On the up side, I guess, that makes picking my story for the next quarter a no-brainer...
WotF: R:0 / HM:3 / sHM:1 / SF:0 / F:0 (Last: HM, Q4.v33. I've been quiet for too long.)
Current WIP intended for Q1.v36

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby vsutherland01 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:35 pm

Aaaaaaand I'm in for this quarter. Just submitted, to my own dismay.

Never been so nervous. I love this story so much, which almost guarantees it will flop. Good luck everyone. Keep at it.

At least I can say I got 4 in 35. Wooo!
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby zeeteebeez » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:34 am

guthington wrote:
I got my piece to under the 17K limit, but then I read some of the winning stories in Volume 33 and realized several things. 1. my entry may work if it is a longer piece (novel length), but for the purposes of a short story in this contest, it's too complicated and has too many points of view and involves two major settings (different planets). 2. I realize that the story arc works best for one of my characters who has a better than average built in growth trajectory. 3. Now I'm considering re-writing the whole thing from just that one point of view with me knowing the other stuff that is going on from other points of view (and it will cut the word count even more which I feel would make it more competitive). 4. I'm not in any hurry and being an academic, my day job is really demanding right now. wotf017 Anyway... I guess I'll see what happens with what I'm working on. The rules are pretty clear that I can't give away any hints of the actual plot on these forums. And... in some ways September 30 is miles away in the landscape. But... there is always the next quarter as well.

Good luck with your entry! wotf024


I can relate. I've been working on a big, two viewpoint (also multiple planet) story that will end up at around 15k at least. I've been contemplating shortening viewpoint two a bit and making it more epistolary. More because I fear the two voices sound too similar than anything else.

But, on a whim, I pounded out a 3k word story in about a week, revisions and all. Never wrote a story that fast ever, and it's definitely my favorite I've ever written, so I think I'm ready to submit.
Z.T.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby LDWriter2 » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:06 pm

Just sent in my story for this quarter
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Henckel » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:54 pm

zeeteebeez wrote:
guthington wrote:
I got my piece to under the 17K limit, but then I read some of the winning stories in Volume 33 and realized several things. 1. my entry may work if it is a longer piece (novel length), but for the purposes of a short story in this contest, it's too complicated and has too many points of view and involves two major settings (different planets). 2. I realize that the story arc works best for one of my characters who has a better than average built in growth trajectory. 3. Now I'm considering re-writing the whole thing from just that one point of view with me knowing the other stuff that is going on from other points of view (and it will cut the word count even more which I feel would make it more competitive). 4. I'm not in any hurry and being an academic, my day job is really demanding right now. wotf017 Anyway... I guess I'll see what happens with what I'm working on. The rules are pretty clear that I can't give away any hints of the actual plot on these forums. And... in some ways September 30 is miles away in the landscape. But... there is always the next quarter as well.

Good luck with your entry! wotf024


I can relate. I've been working on a big, two viewpoint (also multiple planet) story that will end up at around 15k at least. I've been contemplating shortening viewpoint two a bit and making it more epistolary. More because I fear the two voices sound too similar than anything else.

But, on a whim, I pounded out a 3k word story in about a week, revisions and all. Never wrote a story that fast ever, and it's definitely my favorite I've ever written, so I think I'm ready to submit.



So is there a general feeling that having complex longer stories (between 15k and 17k) with multiple viewpoints may not be as competitive, even if they're otherwise sold? I'd not considered this.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby pcmccollum » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:01 am

Submitted my Q4 entry today. Gotta keep on keepin' on. Good luck, everyone.
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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Sataris » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:35 am

Henckel wrote:So is there a general feeling that having complex longer stories (between 15k and 17k) with multiple viewpoints may not be as competitive, even if they're otherwise sold? I'd not considered this.


My woefully unqualified opinion is that no matter where you submit, you start edging into the realm of practical concerns with a story that long, no matter how good it is—ie that that story is going to take up ~70 pages and eat a rather large chunk of an editor's budget/space (slightly different for the contest of course, but i do think it's worth considering given the print anthology). If I had an anthology to put together and I had two stories that were otherwise of equal quality—but one was 3k and one was 17k—I think I'd lean pretty hard toward the 3k. Just my 2c.

I'd be super interested in hearing if anyone knows offhand of a winning story that was pushing the max length. None of the volumes I picked up capped out anywhere near that long, but I'm pretty broke so the sample size was quite small.
2017: Q4: SHM - forthcoming in Syntax and Salt
2018: Q1: 1st Place

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby KD Julicher » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:59 am

Oh, long stories definitely win and get published! V31 has Sharon Joss's story that pushes the length requirements pretty hard: I think Darci Stone's V34 piece is similarly long, and my V32 PF was almost 15k, so.... go for it, if the story is good!
WOTF: HM x 6, SF x 1, F V31 Q3, V32 Q2, V32 Q4, V34 Q3
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V32 Published Finalist

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Henckel » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:03 pm

KD Julicher wrote:Oh, long stories definitely win and get published! V31 has Sharon Joss's story that pushes the length requirements pretty hard: I think Darci Stone's V34 piece is similarly long, and my V32 PF was almost 15k, so.... go for it, if the story is good!



Thanks KD and Sataris.

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:52 pm

KD is right, there are exceptions to every rule. However, Dave has said on my FB that pushing the 17K envelope can hurt your chances. Robert Sawyer has said similar, that it can often be a sign a person doesn't know how to craft a short story. I know I lost once for certain because I submitted a story that was 17K, and the judge at the time was trying to get the contest word count lowered and told me she couldn't justify approving mine when she had been fighting so hard to get the count lowered. That said, I've got to believe Darci Stone's story was right there, and it was a marvel, and needed every word to pull off such a masterpiece. So go with your gut, but do realize you are going to have to be brilliant to clear Dave AND the other judges that may likely have a bias against long short stories. Plus, Dave says when he sees 17K on the ms, he is immediately suspicious, because so many lie about word count...and he always checks and almost always finds the person was lying. Hard to believe, but when you hear what goes on in slush, not hard to believe at all. : )

All the beast!

~Moon~

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby SCAFontaine » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:12 pm

I was wondering if anyone had statistics on which point of view won most often : 1st person or 3rd?

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Re: Discussion: Q4 Volume 35

Postby morganb » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:15 am

Just my opinion, but it seems to me if they want to see shorter stories, perhaps the word count limit in the rules should be lowered to, say, 10K max?


~Morgan
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