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Contest rule compliance: responsibility.

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NinjaHero View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NinjaHero Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:52am
I agree on the word count, but I am not sure its fair to disqualify people now. The first heat is over. The rules were not clear at all on some of these points. So I wouldn't take back anyone's place.

Perhaps people in the first heat should keep their place, but maybe adjust the people below them. So if the winner of one heat went over 1000 words, maybe second place should get the same number of points as first, if they stayed under. Or something to that effect.

Okay, now I feel like I am whining. Sorry. It doesn't help me anyway. The stories that kicked my butt seemed to be under 1000  :(

I will post later today sutekh, thanks for the interest. Mine is not good.
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sutekh137 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:52am
Word count is explicitly part of format (paragraph 18 of the Official Rules PDF), and they state clearly that paragraph 18 (format) is 10% of score.

However, I don't know how far that can go...surely someone writing a 4000 word story should lose more than 10%, given how limiting the word limit is?  I'm not sure...

JoeK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mra061818 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:11am
Thinking a little bit about how lax interpretation of rules could be such a slippery slope...if writers don't have to strictly adhere to the 1,000-word limit, then what about the deadline? If a few extra words don't matter, then what would be the problem with a writer taking 15 extra minutes to submit? Ermm 
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writinghappens View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote writinghappens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:34am
I think I'm going to de-lurk for a bit to add my two cents.

I agree with the sentiment expressed in abc-xyz's post. Although I can't say anything completely for certain, but there are a few instances where people who posted their stories then received high ranks did have discrepancies between their stories and the roles. I hate to single anyone out, but since it has already been mentioned and is the most obvious... the second place winner for group seven has admitted that their story was submitted over the word count, albeit only 21 words.

The word count one is of particular concern for me. For the first assignment, I wrote my story and it originally came out at around 1700 words. But I edited, and I tightened, and at 1100 words, I had a nice tight story. Unfortunately, the requirement was 1000 words, not 1100. I painfully edited out those last 100 words, and what I was left with was not as good as it was before. The pacing was a bit too rushed at times, and a few small elements that helped move the story along in a more enjoyable and fleshed out fashion had to be cut.

Now, I still placed very well in my group. But the problem is, I don't know for certain if maybe I would've placed better had I submitted my story at 1100 words instead of 1000. Now, I haven't read the other stories that won for that group, and I can't say why the judges ranked the stories the way they did, but because there is unclarity regarding what happens with word counts that exceed 1000, I'll never know for certain if one of the people who placed higher than me had the exact same predicament and chose to leave their story at 1100, so even if they were docked points for going over, they more than made up for it with the better pacing and increased little tidbits to flesh things out. Not only is it not fair to me, it's not fair to the other people in my group who placed higher than me, or the people who placed lower who could be wondering the same thing about mine.

This time when I edited my story for round two, I spent the greatest amount of time not writing my story, not editing for grammar or content, but dealing with the word count. After I cropped it down to 1000 exactly, hours were spent pouring over it seeing a place where I really needed a word added, and looking for a word I could remove in return. The idea of just adding a few more words, even just 21 more words, and forgetting about the word cap was very tempting, though in the end I refrained since I didn't know if maybe the judges in my group (I believe it was mentioned different groups had different judges) might look more harshly at that then the judges for Group 7.

I noticed on the Q&A forum, the one question the admins never respond to no matter how many times it was asked was the question of word count. I have a theory that this is because they deal with these on a case by case basis... for example, the person who placed second in group seven was only over by 21 words, an arguably negligible amount, and perhaps only got a few points docked or was not penalized at all, where maybe if someone submitted something that pushed the boundaries more, by being over by 1300 or something, they would be disqualified for clearly not even trying. But even if this were true, we should know... again, it would've been nice last round to know that me and everyone else could safely toss in ten or so extra words past the max without feeling any danger. Maybe if there was a rule such as in the contest, you can go over the word count max twice (out of a possible four submissions) though you only get fifty words total for both times (so you could be 1043 one time and 1007 the next, but 1043 and 1008 or 1010, 1023, and 1017 would get you disqualified.)

Then again, some of abc-xyz's complaints are more subjective. In terms of formatting, I know if I copy a story from Word to an e-mail or an internet journal, the formatting will change, and sometimes in ugly ways. In terms of incorrect genres, perhaps he is talking about something glaring, or maybe it is something subtle. I sent my story around to a few friends to read and get feedback before I submitted it, and a few felt that my story didn't qualify as horror because there were no monsters, while others thought this wasn't necessary. In terms of long flowery run-on sentences, well... that seems like a weird thing to add to the list, for while it may not be a staple of flash fiction, if someone can make something like that work with their story and can sacrifice the word count to do so, then more power to them.

In the end it's a complicated matter. I mean, if the second place winner discovered that his story deserved second but was DQed over 21 words, I'm sure he would be incredibly upset. I myself would be upset if I was DQed because the judges had a strict "there must be monsters!" mindset and therefore felt my story didn't apply, even though from my interpretation of horror I feel this fits right inside the genre. But at the same time... if there are rules that can be broken, I want to know so I can break them too, in the name of producing a stronger story. It's a competition, and I am going to compete to the best of my ability. I'm hoping I do well again this round so I can go onto the 2nd round, and if I do, I'm again going to have the Word Count Debate in my head wondering which is more important: strict adherence to the rules, or giving my story that little bit of extra "ooomph" that could take it to number 1.


Edited by writinghappens - 08 Sep 2008 at 11:56am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote writinghappens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:35am
Augh... Looking at what I typed, I guess there's proof that I do have trouble with word counts and reigning it in.  Maybe we should add word counts to forum posts too. :\
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sutekh137 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:40am
wh, I don't mind your sentiment, but please get the facts correct -- I was second place in heat nine, and I was most definitely under 1000 words, you can check yourself at:

http://www.sutekh137.net/fiction/9_The_Tall_Man.pdf

993 words, by my count...

I believe the story that was 1021 was second place in the fantasy/pool hall/DVD player heat.


Thanks,
JoeK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:42am
And I don't mind the length at all of your post  *smile*  Words are fun!  You make very good points about subjective vs. objective, and the word count think is definitely a tricky thing (as is time of submission, as another person pointed out)...

JoeK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote writinghappens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:52am
Ack! Sorry. I went back and fixed that. Silly me...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 11:55am

Writinghappens brings up a good point. Exactly when does NYC plan on responding to the word count issue? The rules need to apply to everyone. And if the rules have been changed, or if they're 'open to interpretation', then shouldn't they let us know?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 12:09pm
In my opinion, they should just add an additional rider to paragraph 18, stating a special caveat for empirical, objective things like word count and time of submission.  Those items, when out of compliance, should be able to begin eating into the remaining 90% of scoring.  I'm not sure about a flat-out disqualification, but it should definitely be able to eat up more than 10% of score.  If they simply stated that working outside of the format and timing parameters could eat into the remaining 90% UP TO AND INCLUDING full disqualification, would that help?  Still too ambiguous?

There are a lot of experienced writers here, what have other online (or offline) contests done with this kind of thing?  Flat DQs?

JoeK
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