How Short Is Too Short?

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Chris533
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:17 pm

How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Chris533 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:02 pm

Any thoughts on how short would be too short for the contest? Any one know of any really short stories that have won? Say, about 2,000-3,000 words?
Vol.34-Q2 HM
Vol.35-Q1 R

User avatar
J'nae Rae
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:05 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby J'nae Rae » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:10 pm

They don't list a minimum. But I would hazard a guess a drabble would be a no, flash would likely be a hard sell for winning. Good question as to what is the shortest story to win.
HM Q1 2015, Q3 & Q4 2016.
R Q1 & Q2 2017
The Trade's On, in Issue 8 of Sci Phi Journal, November 2015
Naidin's Song: Blood Bound, published August 2016
Nine-Tenths, on Empyreome (Weekly Flash Fiction,) June 2017

wotf024

User avatar
Dustin Adams
Posts: 1596
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:47 am
Location: NY, state of
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Dustin Adams » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:08 am

I believe KD Wentworth's story was the shortest win at 2k.
2x Finalist
1x Semi
2x Silver
9x HM
Eight EDF stories. DSF: Flash1. Flash2. Short Story. My Semi-F

amyhg
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby amyhg » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:09 pm

Dustin Adams wrote:I believe KD Wentworth's story was the shortest win at 2k.


Wow. I get the impression that you're the WOTF Anthology guru. Out of curiosity, how many volumes have you read?
v33: Q3 - R; Q4 - R
v34: Q1 - R; Q2 - SECOND PLACE! Q3 - HM (oops...?)
http://www.amyhenriegillett.com

User avatar
Jeremyteg
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:38 am
Location: Spokane, WA
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Jeremyteg » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:05 pm

amyhg wrote:
Dustin Adams wrote:I believe KD Wentworth's story was the shortest win at 2k.


Wow. I get the impression that you're the WOTF Anthology guru. Out of curiosity, how many volumes have you read?


Legend tells that Dustin was there at the dawn of WOTF, long before the first winners walked the earth. His knowledge is vast, his command of rules minutia and useful trivia infinite, and his wisdom as wide as the horizon. Verily, Dustin is the greatest sage among sages.




Or at least that's the impression I get from reading his posts on the forum wotf001

User avatar
Dustin Adams
Posts: 1596
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:47 am
Location: NY, state of
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Dustin Adams » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:45 pm

From the dawn of time we came, moving quietly, down through the centuries. No one has ever known we were among you... until now.

No, that's a different Highlander.

I understand Preston has read every word.
However, while I am close to completing my antho collection (still need that big table top volume) I am not the reader he is.
Scott Parkin may have read every word as well. He will be a coordinating judge someday, mark my words.
2x Finalist
1x Semi
2x Silver
9x HM
Eight EDF stories. DSF: Flash1. Flash2. Short Story. My Semi-F

User avatar
MattDovey
Posts: 403
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:33 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby MattDovey » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:47 am

Daniel Davis' v31 story was short, only 2-3k, and RM Graves' Freebot in v32 was 2.5k, for more recent examples. I don't think you could get away with shorter than that, because Dave is a plot structure nerd, and flash is too short to really work with that.
Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
Stories | About | Facebook | Twitter

User avatar
preston
Posts: 1015
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:06 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby preston » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:34 pm

I'm pretty sure the shortest WOTF winning story is "The Disambiguation of Captain Shroud" by Gary Shockley. I don't have the book in front of me, but if I remember correctly, it's like two-three pages. It's definitely a flash piece. It won first place.
An even shorter flash story is a finalist called "Just Don't" by Eaolake Stobblehouse. It's one page.
Both are in volume 5. BTW, Shockley's story also one the Gold Award, so yeah...flash might be a hard sell, but done right it can do very well. It did for Gary Shockley!

KathiLS
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:19 am
Location: Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby KathiLS » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:23 am

MattDovey wrote:Daniel Davis' v31 story was short, only 2-3k, and RM Graves' Freebot in v32 was 2.5k, for more recent examples. I don't think you could get away with shorter than that, because Dave is a plot structure nerd, and flash is too short to really work with that.


That doesn't bode well for me this quarter.
~Kathi
Q3 V33 Finalist
The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
~Peter Pan

https://www.klschwengel.com

LaurieG
Posts: 525
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:27 am
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby LaurieG » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:05 pm

Like Preston said, the shortest was "Just Don't". One short page. I still can't figure out why it won, because the story itself made no sense.
http://laurie-gail.livejournal.com

2 time Finalist
4 time Semi-Finalist
lots of HM's and Rejects

KathiLS
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:19 am
Location: Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby KathiLS » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:15 am

Well, then, here's to keeping my fingers crossed. I look forward to a September of twitching.
~Kathi
Q3 V33 Finalist
The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
~Peter Pan

https://www.klschwengel.com

Chris533
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:17 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Chris533 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:49 pm

Interesting - but - my two page story turned into 20!
Vol.34-Q2 HM
Vol.35-Q1 R

User avatar
disgruntledpeony
Posts: 943
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:21 pm
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby disgruntledpeony » Thu Oct 05, 2017 4:05 am

Chris533 wrote:Interesting - but - my two page story turned into 20!


Yeah, that'll happen. wotf019
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, ?, ?

User avatar
morganb
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:11 am
Location: Mount Gilead, Ohio
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby morganb » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:08 am

My Q4 submission started out as a 1,500 word flash story. After it went through Critters, the message I got was that it needed a lot more fleshing out. So after several rewrites, it morphed into 7,000 words. Hope I did it enough justice and didn't just end up blowing lots of hot air into a small balloon.


~Morgan
"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

HM x 1
R x 4

KD Julicher
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:15 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby KD Julicher » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:00 am

preston wrote:I'm pretty sure the shortest WOTF winning story is "The Disambiguation of Captain Shroud" by Gary Shockley. I don't have the book in front of me, but if I remember correctly, it's like two-three pages. It's definitely a flash piece. It won first place.
An even shorter flash story is a finalist called "Just Don't" by Eaolake Stobblehouse. It's one page.
Both are in volume 5. BTW, Shockley's story also one the Gold Award, so yeah...flash might be a hard sell, but done right it can do very well. It did for Gary Shockley!



I will urge anyone who wants to win the contest now to avoid thinking too much about what won the contest thirty years ago. I'm in awe of your knowledge, Preston, and totally not dissing your comment - but if one wishes to win the contest now, read maybe the last 5-7 years of anthologies and read Dave's tips. You can learn what he's looking for pretty easily, and if it suits your own style as a writer then writing to get past him will help you level up. I know my writing has improved immensely since first entering the contest. Even since my first finalist piece three years ago!

But there have definitely been some short winners and finalists in recent volumes. Write the story the way it needs to be written. All else is details.
WOTF: HM x 9, SHMx1, SF x 1, F V31 Q3, V32 Q2, V32 Q4, V34 Q3, V36 Q1
Baen Fantasy Award Winner 2014
V32 Published Finalist

User avatar
preston
Posts: 1015
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:06 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby preston » Thu Oct 05, 2017 5:23 pm

KD Julicher wrote:
preston wrote:I'm pretty sure the shortest WOTF winning story is "The Disambiguation of Captain Shroud" by Gary Shockley. I don't have the book in front of me, but if I remember correctly, it's like two-three pages. It's definitely a flash piece. It won first place.
An even shorter flash story is a finalist called "Just Don't" by Eaolake Stobblehouse. It's one page.
Both are in volume 5. BTW, Shockley's story also one the Gold Award, so yeah...flash might be a hard sell, but done right it can do very well. It did for Gary Shockley!



I will urge anyone who wants to win the contest now to avoid thinking too much about what won the contest thirty years ago. I'm in awe of your knowledge, Preston, and totally not dissing your comment - but if one wishes to win the contest now, read maybe the last 5-7 years of anthologies and read Dave's tips. You can learn what he's looking for pretty easily, and if it suits your own style as a writer then writing to get past him will help you level up. I know my writing has improved immensely since first entering the contest. Even since my first finalist piece three years ago!

But there have definitely been some short winners and finalists in recent volumes. Write the story the way it needs to be written. All else is details.


Thanks, KD! I totally agree. A story has its own organic length. I try to let my own stories dictate their length, though I admit, due to market restrictions, I do try to reign in the word count. As far as the contest, it makes total sense that the later volumes are a better indication of the types of stories that win, as opposed to the earlier volumes. One trend I have noticed is that recently, shorter stories have been winning more often than they used to. Another trend: there are a lot more stories for the judge to choose from. It's interesting how the contest has evolved.

Katie
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:44 pm
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Katie » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:00 pm

My story is has 10 chapters is that too long?

jficke13
Posts: 193
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:24 am
Location: Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby jficke13 » Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:02 am

Katie wrote:My story is has 10 chapters is that too long?


If you're under the word count you're good. People have won with short short stories ("The God Whisperer" from few years ago was short, mine is about 2,000 words), people have won with submissions that are right up on the upper limit.

So beyond be under the word count all I've got for you is:

wotf017
HM x2, Vol. 34 Q4 - 3rd. http://www.jonficke.com

User avatar
RSchibler
Posts: 427
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:53 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby RSchibler » Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:24 am

The contest (and most/all other markets) goes by word count not page number or other measures of length. I saw a thread recently where Dave Farland said he goes by word processor word count as well. 17k or under. Good luck!
Trying to refute entropy with words.

Vol34: R, HM, R
Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, pending, pending

ALWAYS available for critiques. PM me.

User avatar
chuckt
Posts: 186
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:12 am

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby chuckt » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:09 am

So I became very interested in this topic because I have a short one that I like a lot. I'm leaning toward making it my Q3. 1500 words. I'm sure I could get it to 2000 without taking anything away from the tale. In fact, it probably needs another "fail cycle" so I prob can get it to 2.5.

I note above that there were a couple of 2.5K winners recently. Add to that V35's "Are You the Life of the Party," which, based on my rough estimate comes in just below 2K. In fact, my guesstimate has it close to 1800. And I count a few more stories in V35 close to the 3K mark.
36.1 R

User avatar
DaneCurley
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:22 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby DaneCurley » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:17 am

Good is good.

User avatar
chuckt
Posts: 186
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:12 am

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby chuckt » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:06 pm

DaneCurley wrote:Good is good.


Totally agree. But it you can avoid violating an unwritten rule ... one less thing.
36.1 R

User avatar
Dustin Adams
Posts: 1596
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:47 am
Location: NY, state of
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Dustin Adams » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:21 am

I believe there was a finalist a few quarters back that was flash fiction. 1k words. Dave felt it qualified for publication, so there is that, but it didn't make it past the judges. Still, I wouldn't go under 2k. That's my personal minimum and not anything official.
2x Finalist
1x Semi
2x Silver
9x HM
Eight EDF stories. DSF: Flash1. Flash2. Short Story. My Semi-F

Wulf Moon
Posts: 748
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:56 am

I will echo KD's comments, that was then, this is now. The contest has changed, writing has changed. I've heard comments some of the winning stories of the past would likely only make HM now. I agree. But good recall, Preston! You're a superfan!

Two words: world building.

Dave is big on this. He talks about it a lot. He mentions it in his critiques when you hit semifinalist. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, and story does determine length. But knowing the coordinating judge prefers great world building, you decrease your odds with skimpy stories. They don't have enough meat on the bone. Dave wants stories he can sink his teeth into. So do a lot of readers.

But if you've got a flash that *feels* big world and powerful, and yet does all of that in small space, it's a good trick, and it might impress a judge. Just realize you're taking your chances, and the odds are against you.

All the beast,

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers' Choice Award: First Place, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
Award's Speech: https://youtu.be/9Vf1eeeKPRA Located at 1:09:00

User avatar
chuckt
Posts: 186
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 9:12 am

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby chuckt » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:38 pm

I'm over 2500 words now on my story. I think it's within Dave's guidelines. I even have three try/fail cycles! Heck, more than three depending on how those are counted. :) It may not be good enough otherwise but it was a step forward. A couple of you guys were a huge help reading it for me. Thanks.
36.1 R

amoskalik
Posts: 1051
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:40 pm
Location: Detroit, MI
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby amoskalik » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:22 am

FWIW, I got an HM on a story of 1900 words and an R on a story of 800 words. Putting length aside, I would say the 1900 word story was a better fit for WOTF and may be why it placed higher. Those are the only two I have entered with less than 6000 words and I only entered them because I had nothing else ready at the time.
Trajectory HM R R HM R R HM HM HM R R R R HM R HM

Eolake Stobblehouse
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:59 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Eolake Stobblehouse » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:09 pm

Hi folks,
I found this thread while searching for Gary’s story.
I was in volume five. I believe I still have the shortest story (though it was a finalist). It was 184 words.

The Disambiguation Of Captain Shroud was brilliant.

Eolake Stobblehouse

Http://eolake.com

Eolake Stobblehouse
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:59 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby Eolake Stobblehouse » Sat Apr 27, 2019 1:16 pm

preston wrote:. One trend I have noticed is that recently, shorter stories have been winning more often than they used to. Another trend: there are a lot more stories for the judge to choose from. It's interesting how the contest has evolved.


Preston, I’m curious, how do you know there are more stories submitted? When I was there, that was a tightly controlled secret.

(Oh, are Simone Welsh and Rachel still working with the contest?)

Eolake Stobblehouse

Eolake.com

User avatar
preston
Posts: 1015
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:06 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby preston » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:17 pm

Eolake Stobblehouse wrote:
preston wrote:. One trend I have noticed is that recently, shorter stories have been winning more often than they used to. Another trend: there are a lot more stories for the judge to choose from. It's interesting how the contest has evolved.


Preston, I’m curious, how do you know there are more stories submitted? When I was there, that was a tightly controlled secret.

(Oh, are Simone Welsh and Rachel still working with the contest?)

Eolake Stobblehouse

Eolake.com


Yeah, the exact number of entries is still unknown. On the blog and on press releases, they've said "a few thousand" per quarter. Most recently, they've twice said "several thousand." They have also said that each year they have received more entries than the year before that. They've made no secret that each year brings "a record number of entries" and that the contest has been "growing." So while the exact number of entries has not been revealed, they have said that it keeps getting bigger and bigger. My best estimate is somewhere between four and seven thousand per quarter, mainly because some major SF magazines have revealed that they receive about 1000 submissions per month, which would translate to 3 thousand for contest (assuming the number of entries to the contest is similar. And since the words "several thousand" has been used to describe the number of quarter entries. To me "several" means more than 3000, or they would just say "a few thousand." OF course, this is all speculation. What is not speculative, however, is that each year brings a record number of entries. This has been said many times.

User avatar
preston
Posts: 1015
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:06 pm

Re: How Short Is Too Short?

Postby preston » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:19 pm

Eolake Stobblehouse wrote:Hi folks,
I found this thread while searching for Gary’s story.
I was in volume five. I believe I still have the shortest story (though it was a finalist). It was 184 words.

The Disambiguation Of Captain Shroud was brilliant.

Eolake Stobblehouse

Http://eolake.com


Loved your story, "Just Don't," by the way. I believe that was the title. And yes, your story is still the shortest ever published in any volume. I've got them all.


Return to “The Contest - Quarterly Topics, and Other Items”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests