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AdamIhnken View Drop Down
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    Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 3:50am
I scored four points.
 

I’m not complaining but I’m confused as to just what it is the judges are looking for. I placed lower than three stories in my group that effectively ignored the location. Two of them mentioned it as a place a character was going, only one of two went to the place in the last paragraph but never actually entered and the third used the location but their story could have taken place anywhere for all it mattered. That’s not to say they weren’t well written and engaging.

I wrote a story that was strongly woven into the location, to the point that removing the location would have ruined the story because I thought that was the point of making us use a location. Even the object which everyone made a memory from childhood, except the 1st place story in my group, was intricate to my story.

I guess I just want to know, going into the 2nd round, how are we being judged? If I ignore the next location to garner extra words for plot, if I dedicate a single line to the object as if I just wanted it out of the way, how much is that really affecting the score?

As I said, first place in our group deserved it, it was a good story, but having received no criticism and depending on when the judges feedback comes and to what extent they breakdown my story’s flaws or where I can improve, I feel like I’m going into round two disillusioned and blind.

This is my first time, so I’m just looking for someone who can explain what it is the judges look for, because I feel like I just wasted my time when I could have all but ignored the location and object that tied me down.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote plkphoto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 4:05am
Unfortunately, the only thing I can say about that is "every judge is different" -- I've had judges that have specifically commented on my use of location and object, and others that seem to ignore it. 

I believe that use of prompt is one of the parts of their rubric (which we don't have access to), but judges are human too and may miss it -- and I'm not sure how much it counts compared to other aspects of the story telling. The judges are reading huge volumes of stories, and reading from multiple groups -- so it's possible that they overlooked something...

Usually, I've found that creative interpretation of the prompt is encouraged and scores well. If the location has some sort of central importance, that can help a piece. It doesn't have to be the main location where you are -- but it has to be important somehow. I wrote a story once where a mortuary was the location. My story was about a mortician -- and I had him running all over the village, and occasionally entering or leaving the mortuary -- but the story was not set inside it at all... the place was still considered integral to the story, though, because the character was tied to it.

Once feedback comes in, you might find out more about what the judges were looking for -- but you won't necessarily have the same judges next round.

So -- my best advice is -- write a story that connects with you, and that you feel attached to... don't try to cater to what the judges might like/not like... because all the judges are different. If you try to emulate one of your group mates, it might turn out that next round you get a judge who really wants the object and location to be integral to the story... or you might not... In general, it can't hurt to keep the object and location more central rather than less -- but if you come up with a really strong story idea and the prompts seem to be a bit more loosely interpreted -- go for it. Write that strong story. And if the NYCM judges don't like it, then clean it up afterward and send it out for publication. I know lots of people that have more than made back their entry fee by selling their low-scoring stories after the comp... 

And good luck with the next round!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Snarkmaiden Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 4:34am
I'm by no means an NYCM expert (this is my second competition and my first FFC) - however, reading people's reactions to their points, something strikes me.

Point 12 of the official rules states:

Genre, Location & Object Compliance - In order for an Entrant ’s story to qualify for the Flash Fiction Challenge 2017 , each Entrant’s story  must be within the assigned Genre, the location must be the predominant location used in the story, and the object must be included at some point in the story.

I had my wrist slapped in the SSC for not using one of my prompts prominently enough, so I was very careful to follow this rule this time - especially the bit in bold, and especially since the implication of this clause is that failing to follow it would be grounds for disqualification.

I'm happy with the points I scored for this round - no complaints from me on that at all - but I can definitely understand how writers who made a point of adhering to the genre/location/object rule above would feel confused when stories that didn't follow it scored more highly. It does seem that if we're given a very clear direction on what qualifies as correct use of the location, and the judges then disregard that, we don't really know what rules we're playing by.

Obviously I appreciate that the judges have a mountain to climb in terms of reading, ranking and reviewing so many stories, and they do a great job - but consistency in the interpretation of how closely we're to follow the rules is surely key to avoiding frustration!
FFC 2017 CH2: Filling Factory No. 6
FFC 2017 CH1: Strawberry Summer (10 pts)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote plkphoto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 4:45am
I think it comes down to "predominant location" -- which means that it must stand out in the mind of the reader as an important location -- more important than any of the other locations... but doesn't necessarily mean that the whole story needs to take place right at that location (in fact, it doesn't even mean that most of the story needs to take place there, just that it's the most important/stand out).

Which basically means that the rule is open to some interpretation. You'll get a chance to give feedback/scores for your judges when the feedback comes, and you can definitely comment there on what you noticed. If you think that it's truly a mistake by the judges (e.g. there is no way to interpret the rules to say that the other story followed them), then you can email NYCM and mention your concern. 

Since everyone gets to write this next round regardless of score, there's plenty of time for them to look into any discrepancies. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote plkphoto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 4:48am
I should also point out that the rules for SSC, regarding the importance of the character and subject they give, are worded very differently to the way they word the rules for FFC... 

In SSC: "The assigned subject must be integral to the plot of the story. The assigned character must be a relevant character used in the story."

So "integral" and "relevant" rather than "predominant" and "included"... 


Edited by plkphoto - 14 Sep 2017 at 4:49am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattrickBT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 4:51am
I'm not sure the length of the stories in the SSC (I imagine they're longer), but I imagine they're more lose with Flash Fiction requirements in terms of content due to the story length, whereas with a short story writers have more room to move within stricter confines.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote plkphoto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 5:01am
SSC story lengths are: 1st round = 2500 words; 2nd round = 2000 words; and 3rd round = 1500 words.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote MegOverman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 8:06am
I maybe had to check to see if you were in my group. My use of the location was a little loose this time. Mentioned several times, story moved around, but it was never REALLY at a location that wasn't a mansion...per se.  >.>

I play a pretty constant game of chicken with the judges on the object, but I'm USUALLY safer about the location. Unless I can make it a play on the location (pawn shop = place where chess pieces are carved, etc.), in which case I throw all caution to the wind. 

This is how I IMAGINE it goes: 
If there's no serious tie to any location in the story, and the prompt location is the one mentioned in passing, I imagine it gets a "no points deducted" from most (can never be sure) judges. I'd guess you don't get any extra for plunking it very concretely in the location if the location doesn't hold meaning for the story. But I always TELL MYSELF if the location can play in brilliantly somehow, that's better than a solid yet meaningless connection. 

So like:
No use - negative points
Minor mention, not clearly ignoring - full points
Literal and full use, doesn't super affect the story - full points
Cleverly used so story could only take place at that location - possible bonus
Snarky use - negative, full, or bonus...depending on execution and judges.

Who knows, in the end. 0.0
Have a glass of wine and take it like a writer.

R1 H/F (15)
R2 Suspense (Like Father)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 8:22am
Originally posted by plkphoto plkphoto wrote:

Unfortunately, the only thing I can say about that is "every judge is different" -- I've had judges that have specifically commented on my use of location and object, and others that seem to ignore it. 

I would have to echo this sentiment. Trying to figure out what the judges "want" will make you crazy. 

Case in point. My feedback for my third round FF story last year went a little like this:

Judge 1: Your story was exceptionally successful because of Device A.
Judge 2: The use of Device A was a disservice to your story.

The. Same. Dang. Thing.

Best advice - do you. Write the story you want. That's where your best writing is going to come from anyways.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cheezopath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 2017 at 10:28am
couple things:
- i have gone through to r3 with a r1 of 4 points before, it's definitely possible.

- beyond the feedback comments it can be helpful to look at the specific marking criteria and ask yourself how you would score yourself on each. When I realised I was making good plots but not putting enough into character development, my success rate went up.

-As long as you tick the boxes of of the prompt, you can forget about it and really work on the marking criteria. A story with really good writing that technically is in genre, has a secondary prompt character and passing reference to the object will do better than an average written story with obsessive adherence to genre, prompt character as the main focus and a deeply integrated object
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