Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Contest This

A few years ago, I participated in SFNovelist's annual short story contest. It's a "members only" contest, with no actual prizes for winning. But I enjoyed participating, partly for the fun of discussing other people's entries, and mostly because it actually prompted me to write two different short stories. I hardly ever write short stories. Since the contest, I think I've managed to finish all of one other short story.

level_head still belongs to SFNovelist (I left when my trial period expired), and he entered the contest this year with "A Drop in the Ocean". Hearing him talk about the contest reminded me of how much I'd enjoyed the contest.

Now, I'm sure there are any number of short story contests in the world that I could enter, but much of what I enjoyed about the SFN contest wasn't so much about it being a contest as about the discussion of the entries and the incentive to write. When the contest was judged, I didn't even place, and this fact did not lessen my enjoyment of the overall experience.

This has led me to consider running my own contest. I know a lot of you write fiction, so it seems like it wouldn't be too hard to drum up participants from my own friends list.

One of the things I liked about the SFN contest was that all entries were anonymous prior to the judging. This was neat because it made people more likely to judge the story on its own merits, and less likely to pull punches when discussing it.

With that in mind, I'm thinking of running the contest something like this:

* Create an LJ community named something like "StoryContest"
* Have all submissions emailed to me (in LJ-compatible format) by X deadline
* I post them, one per day, to the StoryContest community, in the order received. That'd keep the community from getting spammy at the deadline. It'd also extend the posting of stories well beyond the deadline, but I think that's okay.
* Once all stories are posted, put up a poll for votes on favorites.

I'm thinking of providing modest prizes for 1st-3rd place, like mailed cookies or a small cash award (like $25) just to make people more inclined to submit. I figure I'll enter (hey, the point here is to induce myself to write some short stories!) but I wouldn't be eligible for a prize. (Eg, if I took first place then 2nd-4th would get prizes).

I'm also inclined to impose a short word count -- 2000 words, perhaps. (So more of a "short-short story" contest) This is to encourage people to read the entries. I find the longer an entry on LJ runs, the less likely people are to read it.

I want a contest theme, something sf/f, because I'm a genre reader and, heck, so are most of my friends. :) My first thought for a theme is "Otherworldly Journals": each contest entry would be written in the form of a journal entry from some other time/place. Similar to the
the "Rabbit Hole Day" entries, actually. I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against that as a theme. :)

Anyway, here's a poll to test what interest there is in the idea.

Poll #723212 Contest!

Would you enter a writing contest if I ran one?

Yes!
6(31.6%)
Probably
8(42.1%)
Probably not
1(5.3%)
No
4(21.1%)

Would you read the entries in a writing contest if I ran one?

Yes! All of them!
4(21.1%)
Probably
10(52.6%)
Probably not
1(5.3%)
Some of them, but no more than 5 or 6
3(15.8%)
No.
1(5.3%)

What maximum word count would you prefer, as a reader?

1000
4(22.2%)
2000
5(27.8%)
5000
7(38.9%)
10,000
1(5.6%)
More than 10,000
1(5.6%)

What maximum word count would you prefer, as a writer?

1000
4(23.5%)
2000
4(23.5%)
5000
6(35.3%)
10,000
2(11.8%)
More than 10,000 words
1(5.9%)

How should the judging be handled?

Via an LJ poll
3(18.8%)
Confidentially, by email
3(18.8%)
Based on simple favorites (eg, "vote for your favorite of all the stories, most votes wins".
1(6.2%)
Via scoring for each entry (eg, "score this story based on theme, style, characterization, etc". Highest average score wins.)
3(18.8%)

What prizes should I offer?

Money
0(0.0%)
Cookies
4(23.5%)
Art
1(5.9%)
None: contestants should enter for the glory!
3(17.6%)

Would you be interested in donating something as a prize, and if so, what?

What theme would you suggest for the stories?

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