Contest Questions

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

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Dec 21, 2018 4:15 pm

Yup. Rules are rules. You want to win? Follow the guidelines. To the letter. To the number.
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ddonche
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby ddonche » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:28 pm

RSchibler wrote:You should send in a complete story that fits the word count. If you don't have anything that is under 17k words, either edit them down (although the closer to that limit they are, they harder of a sell they're going to be), or write something that is :)


That's sort of disheartening to hear about getting close to the limit. I normally try to stay within 8-12k on my submissions but the one I sent in was at 16.8k. I tried like hell to pare it down, whittle, chop, but in the end it was how it needed to be. I guess I'll just chew my fingernails for 3 months.
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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:59 pm

ddonche wrote:
RSchibler wrote:You should send in a complete story that fits the word count. If you don't have anything that is under 17k words, either edit them down (although the closer to that limit they are, they harder of a sell they're going to be), or write something that is :)


That's sort of disheartening to hear about getting close to the limit. I normally try to stay within 8-12k on my submissions but the one I sent in was at 16.8k. I tried like hell to pare it down, whittle, chop, but in the end it was how it needed to be. I guess I'll just chew my fingernails for 3 months.

Just because they're a harder sell doesn't mean that they don't win. Longer stories are a hard sell for any market.
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

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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Megan » Thu Jan 03, 2019 7:24 am

ddonche wrote:
RSchibler wrote:You should send in a complete story that fits the word count. If you don't have anything that is under 17k words, either edit them down (although the closer to that limit they are, they harder of a sell they're going to be), or write something that is :)


That's sort of disheartening to hear about getting close to the limit. I normally try to stay within 8-12k on my submissions but the one I sent in was at 16.8k. I tried like hell to pare it down, whittle, chop, but in the end it was how it needed to be. I guess I'll just chew my fingernails for 3 months.


Brandon Sanderson once said that before he was published he knew having long *cough, understatement* stories would be a mark against him, which meant he had to make his stories that much better than everybody else's. It obviously worked out for him.

Publishers will always choose the shorter length if they have two stories they like equally and think will serve their needs equally well. It's less risky economically since it's cheaper to publish shorter stories. I'm guessing Dave is no different when he's choosing stories for the anthology.

I've had two submissions that have pushed 17K and they've both received HMs. I think the length might have hampered their potential, but I also think if they'd blown Dave's socks off, it wouldn't have mattered.
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RSchibler
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby RSchibler » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:12 am

Yes, definitely. A harder sell doesn't mean impossible - it just raises the bar a bit because all things being equal, editors are likely to choose shorter stories. Write your story. If it's 19k, this just isn't the right market for you - that doesn't mean the story is necessarily flawed.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby SCAFontaine » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:11 am

It would be an interesting to know what the average and median winning story length is, since Dave took over as 1st judge... Any one ventured that far into the contest's statistics?
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby writer503 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:06 pm

Are simultaneous submissions allowed by Writers of the Future? That is, can you submit the same story to the contest and to another publication? The contest rules page does not specifically say anything about simultaneous submissions.

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Re: Contest Questions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:41 pm

writer503 wrote:Are simultaneous submissions allowed by Writers of the Future? That is, can you submit the same story to the contest and to another publication? The contest rules page does not specifically say anything about simultaneous submissions.

I do not recommend simultaneous submissions. Not at all.
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

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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:32 pm

writer503 wrote:Are simultaneous submissions allowed by Writers of the Future? That is, can you submit the same story to the contest and to another publication? The contest rules page does not specifically say anything about simultaneous submissions.


I second DisgruntledPeony. For all kinds of reasons. What if an editor says they love your story and send you a contract, and then WotF loves it to? Bad business, and bad business practice.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby chuckt » Tue Mar 05, 2019 3:06 pm

When I submitted my first stories, I didn't even know winners got published (I know, I'm a laughable noob) so the possibility of simultaneous submission never entered my brain. I just thought of it as a contest and, in my defense, the rules do not address the issue. I emailed the question and the contest admin told me that prior publication WILL get your story "pull[ed] from the book because we do not publish already published stories."



I'm so relieved I didn't get published and have to worry about it. (That's a joke in case it wasn't clear).
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby TimE » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:43 am

SCAFontaine wrote:It would be an interesting to know what the average and median winning story length is, since Dave took over as 1st judge... Any one ventured that far into the contest's statistics?


Because I'm equally nerdy and had already roughly worked out the length of stories in the last 4 years, I'm going to say the average is around 8,000. Mode 4 to 5. Median around 5ish. I allowed the figures and old discussions on length to put me off submitting longer stories and probably over-chopped one in the past. Last year's winner shows this shouldn't be done.

I'd meant to look up and re-read KDJ's published finalist - see if I can find a clue to regular success. So, I'll read Swords Like Lightning.. again today.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby TimE » Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:49 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:
writer503 wrote:Are simultaneous submissions allowed by Writers of the Future? That is, can you submit the same story to the contest and to another publication? The contest rules page does not specifically say anything about simultaneous submissions.

I do not recommend simultaneous submissions. Not at all.


I've only submitted s/s to WotF, but hadn't thought of this. I've submitted novels to multiple agents and might not have considered it. Though for now, I'll stick with WotF.
5*R 3*HM - I thought I was getting closer, but perhaps not.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Dragonchef » Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:41 am

TimE wrote:I've only submitted s/s to WotF, but hadn't thought of this. I've submitted novels to multiple agents and might not have considered it. Though for now, I'll stick with WotF.

Once you win, TimE, it will probably no longer be a problem! wotf053
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby aidanka » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:33 am

!. So far I received two rejections, One was flat R, second was R and invitation to send again. Do you think it means something? I was a newbie so I don't know whether it was a 1st wave of Rs or 2nd.
2. I've read somewhere that DF said not to clutter your story with characters. My F story has 10 characters, will it get rejected because of that? I can't decrease no. because everyone has a different role.


disgruntledpeony wrote:
writer503 wrote:Are simultaneous submissions allowed by Writers of the Future? That is, can you submit the same story to the contest and to another publication? The contest rules page does not specifically say anything about simultaneous submissions.

I do not recommend simultaneous submissions. Not at all.

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chuckt
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby chuckt » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:35 am

Who are the Vol. 36 finalist judges? I'm just curious-not presuming I will get anything other than an R my first try. Do they change every quarter? Every volume? Or is it a secret? This is probably a noob question and has been answered somewhere but I couldn't find it.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby KD Julicher » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:49 am

chuckt wrote:Who are the Vol. 36 finalist judges? I'm just curious-not presuming I will get anything other than an R my first try. Do they change every quarter? Every volume? Or is it a secret? This is probably a noob question and has been answered somewhere but I couldn't find it.



You can find a list of all the contest judges, but the final round judges change every quarter and we don't know who they will be. The only way to know is to ask Joni when she calls with the final results for the finalists! She'll tell you if you ask. That's how I know Jerry Pournelle read (and, er, rejected) my story just before his death. Or that a different judge really liked a particular story I wrote.

Dave Farland reads - well, not all the stories any more, but all the stories that make it past the first reader. So you can read about his likes and dislikes and try to get past him. Anything he makes a finalist has a strong chance of winning!
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby chuckt » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:53 am

So. Trying to get an idea of how conservative WotF is in terms of content. So I figure they probably don't prefer: sex scenes, depictions of very graphic violence, the F-bomb. This ain't GoT, but what about:

1. "Damn"
2. "had an affair"
3. "had sex"
4. "shit"
5. "stabbed in the eye"
6. "stabbed in the gut"
7. "the creature grabbed him with both hands, twisted, and tore his body in half. Blood and gore splattered the cheering crowd."
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:24 am

chuckt wrote:So. Trying to get an idea of how conservative WotF is in terms of content. So I figure they probably don't prefer: sex scenes, depictions of very graphic violence, the F-bomb. This ain't GoT, but what about:

1. "Damn"
2. "had an affair"
3. "had sex"
4. "shit"
5. "stabbed in the eye"
6. "stabbed in the gut"
7. "the creature grabbed him with both hands, twisted, and tore his body in half. Blood and gore splattered the cheering crowd."



Dave has said he admires authors that have written dramatic scenes that don't resort to curse words. That said, you are probably good with everything in that list with the exception of #4. Be very careful, and it better not be peppered throughout or you will get rejected. That said, I had a damn good reason for using the word in my story in Volume 35. wotf001

Your gore in #7 isn't gore at all. It's a rather benign description. But start describing torture in great detail, revel in the vivid suffering of another being, and you can cross the line of what is appropriate for junior and high school libraries and readers. And Dave DOES consider that! He is very conscious of the YA audience that reads the volumes. Word to the wise.
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chuckt
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby chuckt » Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:19 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:
chuckt wrote:That said, I had a damn good reason for using the word in my story in Volume 35. wotf001

Your gore in #7 isn't gore at all. It's a rather benign description. But start describing torture in great detail, revel in the vivid suffering of another being, and you can cross the line of what is appropriate for junior and high school libraries and readers. And Dave DOES consider that! He is very conscious of the YA audience that reads the volumes. Word to the wise.


Very helpful. Thanks Wolf. Can’t wait to read your story!
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:27 am

chuckt wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote:
chuckt wrote:That said, I had a damn good reason for using the word in my story in Volume 35. wotf001

Your gore in #7 isn't gore at all. It's a rather benign description. But start describing torture in great detail, revel in the vivid suffering of another being, and you can cross the line of what is appropriate for junior and high school libraries and readers. And Dave DOES consider that! He is very conscious of the YA audience that reads the volumes. Word to the wise.


Very helpful. Thanks Wolf. Can’t wait to read your story!


Good questions, Chuckt. There are fails in there that will get your story tossed. One that isn't mentioned is overly sensual detail. I wrote a story that Dave had in his final culled stack, the ones he thought could be winners (about 24 stories in every Q where the finalists, semifinalists, and silver HMs come from). He gave mine semifinalist and because of that, I got a critique, and found out why he rejected it. He said, and I'll paraphrase, that when he read it, he really thought he was reading a contest winner. He said that on the level of world building alone, it was probably greater than all the other stories he selected for finalist. But he said it had too much "breast imagery," and that whenever he writes a tale where a male notices any element of the female anatomy, reviewers call him out on it, tear him apart. He knows the current atmosphere, and so he regretfully downgraded my story, but at least he told me why. In my defense, it was a story about a mermaid. Apparently, I needed to dress her in an abrasive shell bra. wotf001 Dave did say he believed I would sell the story elsewhere.

Funny thing is, I scoured that story to make sure it was PG, and cut it almost in half since he also said I wrote beautfiul descriptions, but that I should remember the phrase "kill your darlings." So I took the counsel to heart. Guess what? I just got a critique back from the editor of a great magazine, saying if I just take out a bit more of the allusions to the female anatomy, it would likely be appropriate for their readers and they would buy it. Even "cleavage" was apparently too much for their adult readers' sensibilities, so here I go again. It won't change my story, except it won't be as sensual a tale as the one I originally wrote. However, it will most likely sell to them if I follow their suggestions. The editor said to send the revised manuscript back to him if I chose to take the suggestions. They are minor. Of course I will. I want the sale!

Point is, Dave was right. And we've talked about this before in other spots on this board. There are reasons why editors and judges have certain biases. Often, it's because they know from cold hard experience what will sell, and what will not, in the current marketplace. Figure it out, and it will keep you from making the same mistakes others have made.

Fortune favor the studious,

~Moon~
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Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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chuckt
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby chuckt » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:26 pm

Hmm. Yeah. Probably better to have murder and mayhem than men ogling women. Thanks for the insight. I'll edit my entries with this in mind in the future.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby czing » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:42 pm

I thought I saw this mentioned in some other thread but I wanted to confirm.

Can you revise a previously entered story and enter it in another quarter if it wasn't a winner? Does it matter if it was an Honorable Mention?
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby KD Julicher » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:58 pm

czing wrote:I thought I saw this mentioned in some other thread but I wanted to confirm.

Can you revise a previously entered story and enter it in another quarter if it wasn't a winner? Does it matter if it was an Honorable Mention?



You absolutely can re-enter any story that earned less than a SF. Finalist stories had their shot, Semifinalists get feedback from Dave so it wouldn't be fair, but anything else is fair game.

Whether that's the best choice or not is up to you. If you've analyzed it, and you think you know what it was lacking and have fixed that lack, then go for it! But your time might be better spent writing something brand new.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby czing » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:18 pm

Thanks!

Honestly I was headed onto the revisions path with this story anyway. I feel like it has great potential (that I thought I had fulfilled but...). And I've gotten a little bit of feedback from other sources that I think will take it up several notches!
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby JVAshley » Sat May 04, 2019 7:32 am

Well Darn It
The Q3 I planned to write was PG but did have a more sensual nature than my normal G rated stories. I hate to write it knowing it is a goner.
Grumble
Grumble
Looking through my mental images...I didn't plan on mentioning anatomy.
Hmmmmm....
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Dragonchef
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Dragonchef » Sat May 04, 2019 7:37 am

JVAshley wrote:Well Darn It
The Q3 I planned to write was PG but did have a more sensual nature than my normal G rated stories. I hate to write it knowing it is a goner.
Grumble
Grumble
Looking through my mental images...I didn't plan on mentioning anatomy.
Hmmmmm....
wotf017

Did you already submit it?
If not, just change all the graphic scenes to emotional scenes. Problem solved.
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby RSchibler » Sat May 04, 2019 10:36 am

Or write it, send it to appropriate markets, and write a new one for WotF!
Trying to refute entropy with words.

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Vol35: HM, R, R, HM
Vol36: R, HM, HM, SHM

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Re: Contest Questions

Postby JVAshley » Sat May 04, 2019 6:33 pm

Dragonchef wrote:Did you already submit it?
If not, just change all the graphic scenes to emotional scenes. Problem solved.

I did an outline and a couple of scenes then set it aside while I was working on my novel. I looked over it after your comment and it was not graphic. I think, with time, it had just gotten steamier in my head.

RSchibler wrote:Or write it, send it to appropriate markets, and write a new one for WotF!

I think this is how I will approach it. If I complete it and it is too saucy, I will just find another market for it. Thanks
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Re: Contest Questions

Postby Chadmt21 » Sun May 05, 2019 11:43 am

So, I’ve been scouring and studying this forum for weeks looking for the answers to my questions, but I figured might as well ask the questions myself. I just discovered the contest this year, so I’m pretty new to this. My first concern is cursing. My story isn’t riddled with swear words, but there are some here and there, including the F–bomb. I tried cutting them out, but it put a huge dent in my rag-tag characters image(even my editor advised against it). Would swearing put me in a bad light in the eyes of the judges, even though it’s not excessive?

Another concern of mine is that if I enter and excerpt of a novel I haven’t finished yet, would I be able to publish the novel later on? Also, should I state in the title that it is an excerpt for the sake of future publication?

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Re: Contest Questions

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sun May 05, 2019 8:52 pm

Chadmt21 wrote:So, I’ve been scouring and studying this forum for weeks looking for the answers to my questions, but I figured might as well ask the questions myself. I just discovered the contest this year, so I’m pretty new to this. My first concern is cursing. My story isn’t riddled with swear words, but there are some here and there, including the F–bomb. I tried cutting them out, but it put a huge dent in my rag-tag characters image(even my editor advised against it). Would swearing put me in a bad light in the eyes of the judges, even though it’s not excessive?

Another concern of mine is that if I enter and excerpt of a novel I haven’t finished yet, would I be able to publish the novel later on? Also, should I state in the title that it is an excerpt for the sake of future publication?

Some swearing is okay, but I'd definitely recommend changing the F-bomb to something milder. You're aiming for PG to PG-13, and even one F-bomb could seriously hurt your chances.

Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how the novel exerpt would work, but I've known of short stories being adapted into novels in the past, so... *shrugs?*
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

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