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Contest rule compliance: responsibility.

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studavegga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote studavegga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 12:10pm
I sent the people in NYCmidnight a private message specifically asking about word count. I was in group 7 and when I heard the second place winner was over 21 words, I was surprised, since I assumed going over the word count would bring someone's placing down.

Apparently, according to the response I got, it's at the discretion of the judge...(so this is kind of a non-answer).

Judges are instructed to deduct points from the overall score for breaking any of the format rules, such as going over the word limit. Different judges may decide that going a few words over the limit might not deserve to be deducted the full 10% of the format score (as stated in the rules). But, we are keeping a close eye on the point deductions and are doing our best to make sure that stories that break the format rules are not awarded the full 10% score for format.

Also, disqualifications are reserved for major rule breaking, such as not including an assigned genre, location or object or submitting a story many hundreds of words over the limit (for example).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote linguist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 12:27pm
I have also observed there seems to be a flagrant disregard for word count. This is my first time at this contest so I very carefully whittled down both stories entered to be less than 1000 words.

I've seen some posters openly (in some cases, gleefully) admit they were over the limit. It seems pretty unevenly handled.

I scored low in my group, but that's because I had a not so good story written hurriedly on the same weekend I got married, so hey, I deserved the score I got.

But if we're not all playing out of the same rulebook...that seems unfair, and as mentioned by another poster, especially if we're paying to enter this little competition.
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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 12:37pm
I don't know. I thought the whole point of this contest was to create a complete story 1000 words or less?

I don't like the idea that some groups get judges who ignore rules and the rest of us are stuck with judges who are strict. That is a crappy crap shoot.

Yes I did just say crappy crap shoot. Now we know why my story didn't do better. :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote abc-xyz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 1:15pm
First, a response to sutekh137:
I've been a member of this Forum for several months. I chose to post my message on the topic of rule compliance under abc-xyz.

Second...
I never said where my story placed.

---
Third...

For some ideas on how flash fiction is defined, a good starting point is the following:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_fiction
Please see the references noted at the bottom of the web page.

Please note that flash fiction is almost without exception 1000 words or less. Sometimes special word limits are required: 50 (dribble), 55, 100 (drabble), and so on.

For the shorter lengths, word limits are exact, firm, and enforced. That is, a drabble is exactly 100 words, no more, no less, with a title up to 15 words in length.

A number of websites contain information on the shorter forms of flash fiction, including:
http://www.trickster.org/symposium/symp162.html

As another start, definitions of genres can be found at the following:
www.wikipedia.com
http://www.freebase.com (which often refers back to www.wikipedia.com

A fair number of the markets for flash fiction can be found as follows:
http://www.duotrope.com
If you type in word length = 1000 with a genre, a list of printed journals and ezines will be presented. Other options will narrow down your search results.

As you will notice, the word limits in the various markets are either maxima or exact. Submittals with too many words are rejected.

Also, these markets accept stories written in specific genres. Stories written in the wrong genres are rejected. Sure, a genre can be subjective, especially when its crosses borders into another genre, but it needs to have most of its essence of the requested genre.

For me, the fun of flash fiction writing is developing a story per the word count rule. If you do this enough, you'll start thinking in snippets that fit the word length and rarely overshoot by more than 5%. Trimming isn't difficult, because all of us write with extra words in our first drafts. And, again, flash fiction writing tends to have shorter, crisper sentences. The shorter the word limit, the more choppy the style of writing.

Hope that this is helpful in some small way.
    

Edited by abc-xyz - 08 Sep 2008 at 1:37pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HughDeppman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 1:34pm

I think the original poster made some excellent points. While I think he may have some understandable disappointment with not placing high (edited because, as OP points out, OP never states where OP placed), it does not seem to me his concerns stem from losing. His points are about more than sour grapes.

NYCMM has put forth specific rules. We, as contestants paying good money that could easily be spent on any other competition, should expect them to abide by those rules. Some of them, like the word counts, are facts, and therefore inexcusable and should be addressed by NYCMM. Just leaving these issues on the table will only put more worms into the can.

Also, I can see what he means about formatting. I don't want to detract anything from any of the writers, because I've seen a lot of fantastic stories. But some of them don't read well, they still placed very high, and I would have thought form would count as heavily as content.

To another poster's comment about not all of the stories being posted, that doesn't mean he didn't read them. Some of the winners didn't post but are happy to share their stories if you request it. If you haven't done this, I encourage you to. This is one tough competition, and for many of the winners, there is a good reason they placed at the top.

As far as objectivity when scoring a story based on content, not form: as someone who is sick of contests but keeps plugging away at them, I've never seen a competition where the judges did not bring personal preferences to the table. I've just learned to accept this will happen. If I disagree with their decisions, at least, like the original poster said, I end up with some often great stories to send to other publishers.

(To anyone that did not score high, I encourage you to do the same. Send those stories to other contests and magazines. Just because they didn't score well doesn't mean they were no good.)

I mean, judges and publishers overlook a golden goose all the time.

For example: The Shining (and its author's previous works) was rejected by many publishers before its release and phenomenal success. The Thirteenth Tale, a runaway bestseller for over a year, earning the author over 1 million pounds as an advance alone, was rejected by countless publishers before finding a home. I'd like to tell all of the publishers that said no to these stories, "WERE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!?!?!"


If it takes another publisher for your story to find success, you may wish to tell NYCMM the same :)



Edited by HughDeppman - 08 Sep 2008 at 1:45pm
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HughDeppman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 1:41pm
"If I make a mistake and fail to catch non-compliances, not one, not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of lives will be at stake, which 20th and 21st century history has proven as fact."

However, looking over the original post again, I have to think pieces of his email, like the above, have something to do with them not responding to his email. Lives at stake? Sure, thousands may be upset their story lost, and they may feel their story didn't receive fair consideration, and they may wish they could have their entry fee back. But lives at stake?!

He makes some great points, but it came across to me like he was playing judge and jury for the issue, which can be immediately off putting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote abc-xyz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 1:48pm
.

Edited by abc-xyz - 08 Sep 2008 at 3:31pm
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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 1:57pm
HughDepp, IIRC, you were in Subway, and I thought your story should have easily been in the top five.  The Subway heat was one where two of my favorite stories, yours and "Pencils" scored halfway up the ladder, at best.

If most other places make word count an instant disqualifier (when exceeded), I can understand better some of the frustration here...  I'm quite new to this, one longer short story not even placing (no idea where it ended up) to now getting second place in challenge one when I was just hoping for top 5.  I don't know how much is skill and how much is luck (I always feel lucky, though  *smile*).

abc-xyz, I will read the links you gave above, I appreciate it...

JoeK 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alexander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 2:13pm
i feel that if u go over the word count you shouldn't finish in the top ten. that is the one rule that bothers me that writers are ingoring, yet getting away with it.


    

Edited by alexander - 08 Sep 2008 at 2:41pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skylark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 3:15pm
Some of the points made here about the fuzziness of it all are well-founded (I won't go over them again) and I agree.
 
I have to call you out though, abc, on your post beginning "This morning, I was gravely disappointed when I saw who placed in Challenge ..."
 
We are all competing in this together, and for you to single out a fellow writer for such venom is uncalled-for and unsportsmanlike. 
 
While, for disclosure's sake, I too am disappointed that I didn't place better, and  don't hold out much hope for this round, I have had an absolute blast here. I have been inspired, challenged, and happy to have met you all. I've seen and received some first-rate critiquing from my competitors, and will become an even better writer because of it.  And yes, I am also a professional writer and editor. Trust me, the self-improvement doesn't stop with the royalties checks, or with winning contests. Isn't that why we are all here?
 
I hope that the winner of Round x will not take abc's comments to heart. IMHO that was unfair.
 
My heartiest congratulations to each of the winners.
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