Competition Aftermath

zerohour

Well-Known Member
#1
Well, since I think judging is now completed, (need to check to see if we're still doing a "Final" judging,) this seems like a good time to discuss the competiton, say what worked well, what didn't


Issues I noticed:

Judges:
None of us really followed a schedule for when we would score the stories. Kaen didn't score his at all until the last week, I was erratic at best, and chronodekar suffered similar issues. Judging needs to be done on a timely basis (within three days seems reasonable)

I also think we need to try and give some meaningful response aside from simply giving points. If we don't tell you what's wrong, how can we expect you to fix it?

Theme:
While I think a Theme is a good thing to have for an Anthology, I think Tarot Cards was a poor choice for this. They're both too broad, and too narrow, if that makes any sense. Next time will probably have a more generalized theme that can be broadly applied to pretty much anything instead of what we used.

Tropes:
I don't think the tropes really helped in any meaningful way. They seemed like a way to prop up a poor story,, or something to boost your score if it happened to fit well, or a detriment, if they didn't fit but the writer wanted the extra points.

Participation:
Of the dozen or so people who expressed interest in participating, only three actually even started writing. What happened? Was it something I did, or was it issues on your end?

While this wasn't a requirement, either implicitly or explicitly, I was a little surprised that no one, participant or otherwise, offered an opinion on the stories. Maybe institute a peer review aspect for future competitions?

I'm going to go and get some sleep now, but I'll probably add to this after a good night's rest. Your thoughts and opinions on the competition, what went right, what went wrong, and what needs to be added or improved are greatly appreciated. The more feedback I get, the better I can make this next time around.
 

zerohour

Well-Known Member
#2
Time for a more in depth breakdown:


Theme:

While having a unifying theme can be a good thing, I think that Tarot Cards were a bad choice here. If more people had participated, it might not have been as big an issue, but we can't rely on attaining a certain thresh hold of participation to make things "good."

Tarot Cards are a little too specific. A lot of participants probably weren't aware of their meanings, and that extends to the readers as well. Forcing someone to do research isn't a good way to interest people, and it could have ended up driving a few people away from participating as well.

Going without a Theme in the future could be a good thing, but it's up in the air. Having something to tie all of the stories together can be a good thing, but I don't think it is intrinsically necessary for the competition, especially for something so small scale.

Still, having a more general theme (like Honeymoons, Unexpected Trouble, or something similar) might be a much better choice than something so specific or no theme at all. It gives something to tie the stories together and give some potential inspiration, without needing to dominate the entire story.


What do you guys think?
 

Halibel Lecter

Well-Known Member
#3
I like a more general theme. The idea of using something with a lot of symbolism and variance was awesome--but it ran into the same problem as telling a chaotic-aligned person, "Oh, there's no set deadline." The end result tends to be a general fizzling--and even once you've settled on a theme you like, it can be hard to stick to it. Something more defined would be great. Also, just an idea, but if the theme was more general, some of the tropes could be picked to match it (for example, if you're doing Unexpected Trouble, then you could make one of the tropes Heel Face Turn). That would be really neat.
 

QE1

Well-Known Member
#4
Theme: Yeah I like the idea of a theme, but not knowing anything about tarot cards I struggled when choosing one and then keeping my plot true to the card I had chosen. My lack of writing experience and inadequate pre-planning contributed the lion's share to the problem but it probably would have been easier with a more general theme.

Tropes: Why not post a list of all of the tropes for the competition at the very start? Unless you were intent on adding difficulty by keeping them a surprise each week you would see more tropes used if they were known during the initial planning stages and could be used at any point in the story. The point gains could be lowered to compensate.

Judging/Peer Review: Yeah it would be nice to have it done closer to the deadlines, but I was fine with the responses and feedback I got from the judges. Sure even more help would probably have improved my story significantly but it is a competition so I have to sink or swim on my own merits. Peer review could probably be encouraged for the next contest from the general board population. I would feel a little odd and self-serving commenting on the other stories in the contest, if my writing was fast enough to allow me the time to even do so.
 

zerohour

Well-Known Member
#5
Alright, wrong about judging being over, since we decided (against all common sense,) to continue with Final Judging. Still, we can continue picking apart the mistakes so we



Participation: Given that we are probably going to stick to online publishing (unless we have a successful kickstarter,) there isn't any reason for us to cut stories. We only have about 35,000 words total, or about 140 pages, which is a bit thin. Even if I complete my story, it probably won't go above 50,000 words, or 200 pages.

So, what made so many people drop out? How could we get more participants?

My assumption is that the Theme was a major deterrent, but what other factors might have influenced it? Real Life is something that can't be controlled, but there are plenty of other possibilities.

Entry Fee: I really, REALLY think this would be a bad idea. Having a fee would probably keep a significant number from even bothering. After all, why bother pay money when you can write for free? On the other hand, having money on the line (probably not more than $10 maximum) might encourage people to actually write. Refunding the fee upon completing the story might eliminate some of the hesitancy, and those who do not complete their story can go towards the prize money.

Still, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Unless there is an overwhelming support for this, I think we'll avoid it.

Confusion: Were there any gray areas that might have confused people? If you don't know what you're doing, it's a lot more difficult to get involved.

Deadline: I think a weekly deadline encourages people to write more, since it breaks down the project into more manageable chunks, and also has them work at a steady pace instead of a frantic burst of energy at the beginning and the end. While the writer doesn't need to follow it, they do suffer a penalty for posting it all at the end, and are more likely to just not do anything.

Advertising: Opening participation to non-TFFers would probably get some more writers involved. The issue with that is that obviously, they aren't TFFers. A second issue with that is that we might actually have to cut stories from publication if participation reaches a certain threshold, especially if we use dead tree format. I would much rather drum up more participants here than have it open to everyone with an internet connection. Then again, it's not like joining has stringent requirements...


Thoughts?
 

chronodekar

Obsessively signs his posts
Staff member
#6
On the Entry Fee idea - take it to the back, shoot it three times, bury it under an active volcano and nuke the area. In fact, nuke it three times too, you can never be too sure if it will pop up again ...

On a more serious note, that raises the barrier for entry too much. At the very least the participant will need access to an online bank account - how many TFFers have that? While I have one (a bank account) now, I started fanfiction when I was in school. And was pennyless for YEARS. Which brings me to the second point - currency is not the same value everywhere. I like to think that TFF is a global community and ... well, lets just say that even 1 USD goes a long way for a third-world nation than it does in Europe.

The deadlines were troublesome. We NEED them for a contest, yes, but I found it incredibly hard to stick to the weekly schedule. A fortnightly schedule might be more ... tolerable.

I'm wondering if it would be worth it to reduce the number of entries from four to just two. And extend the contest time to 2 months instead of one. i.e. you have a month to post up "part 1" and another month to put up "part 2". Might get us more participants, if you ask me.

For that matter (and this might get controversial) - should we "limit" the entries to original fiction? For better or worse, I find it easier to write fanficiton based (and butchering) someone else's characters/scenarios instead of my own. We probably will need to remove the financial prizes if we permit this (all proceeds/sales go to funding the next contest?).

I'm strongly against opening the contest to non-TFF folks. We can put the stories somewhere for them to read it for free (without registration), but otherwise, no.

-chronodekar
 

H-Man

Random phantom.
#7
Actually, I brought up that subject with GenocideHeart a while back.

Fanfiction contests to this level require non-money prizes, but they definitely should offer a tangible prize of some kind. You know, 'custom title', 'mods sticky their good threads', 'ten people add story to FF.n account's Favorites', 'audiobook reading', something like that? I'm not saying people don't write for no reason, but everyone wants internet fame, as lame as that concept is, and what's not to like about people treating their stories like they're worth *something*?

I don't know if this helps anything, it's just my own thoughts, but if this is going to become a regular thing (and it should; I know many people don't plan on actually living off writing, but for people like myself and Meinos, this is one way of getting our names out there), then this is something to take into account.
 

chronodekar

Obsessively signs his posts
Staff member
#8
H-Man said:
Actually, I brought up that subject with GenocideHeart a while back.

Fanfiction contests to this level require non-money prizes, but they definitely should offer a tangible prize of some kind. You know, 'custom title', 'mods sticky their good threads', 'ten people add story to FF.n account's Favorites', 'audiobook reading', something like that? I'm not saying people don't write for no reason, but everyone wants internet fame, as lame as that concept is, and what's not to like about people treating their stories like they're worth *something*?

I don't know if this helps anything, it's just my own thoughts, but if this is going to become a regular thing (and it should; I know many people don't plan on actually living off writing, but for people like myself and Meinos, this is one way of getting our names out there), then this is something to take into account.
Might just try that for one of these stories... Know any good audio recording software?

-chronodekar
 

chronodekar

Obsessively signs his posts
Staff member
#10
H-Man said:
Audacity is the best I know.
Just installed and it doesn't feel too shabby. Am experimenting with making the recordings on my own - you know, EGO reasons. ;P

Hmm... this is surprising, mediafire allows upload of mp3 files and they can be listened to it from the browser without downloading. Here's what I just made;

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/uu4z5krt93w98ic/temp.mp3

The above is from Magellan (first 2 paragraphs, 100 odd seconds of audio), used without permission (Hmm... on that note; zerohour, did we ask participants for audio rights for submissions? ).

Should I continue further experiments along this line?

-chronodekar
 

esran

Active Member
#12
When I saw tarot cards I simply lost all motivation.
 
#13
Issues on my end prevented me from actually participating - my semester has been much more difficult than I expected. I'll also agree with esran in that the theme didn't do too much to motivate me to fight through my schedule.
 
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