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RFI: Worldbuilding Between Rounds/Years

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Phobos View Drop Down
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    Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 12:56pm
tl;dr - If we draw the same/similar genre, can we reuse a character in the next round?  How about next year?



This is my first time participating in any flash fiction or writing competition.  My part has concluded as I got a paltry 4 points across the first two challenges.  I'm disappointed, but I've learned a lot.  But a big question has been brewing in my mind for the next time this competition comes around ... are the characters and worlds I've begun to build in my mind and on paper through these first two challenges fair game for the next set of challenges?  If it's not okay now, is it okay to reuse them next year? Five years from now?

I got Mystery in challenge 1 and Horror in challenge 2.  Those are not wholly unrelated genres.  I could see connections between a particularly dark mystery and a particularly mysterious horror story.  I was thinking of throwing an easter egg from my first story into my second story, but I saw that cross-referencing your first story is frowned upon because it may be seen as an attempt to influence the judges.

But, what about next year?  What about 5 years down the road?  Some of you have been participating that long.  It's likely you've rolled the dice enough times to have gotten the same category several times by now.  Do you always write new characters in new worlds or is there room to revisit a favored character in a new situation or even a new genre?

Take my first story.  The judges said it was ambitious with excellent building blocks, but confusing and with too many scenes and characters.  In hindsight, I'll admit I probably did shove too much into 1000 words.  However, I'm really fond of the main character and he had a number of "adventures" that weekend I was writing the story that informed his personality and actions.  It feels a shame to wad up the digital paper with all the notes about him and empty the recycle bin ... then only to draw mystery again and have to drum up an entirely new character.  I know the prompt(s) will be different, but will the characters have to be?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote vkmartin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:12pm
I don't see any reason why you couldn't reuse them, if it made sense genre-wise. The only real hindrance I can see would be relying on someone to have read the first story to understand what's happening in the second.

That said, I've also taken the world/characters from the first story I ever submitted to NYCM and am planning to expand it into a longer story and write 5 other stories set in the same world. So there's lots of opportunities outside of the contest to take what you've already written and do something more with it - and this time, you won't have to worry about a 1,000 word limit!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Anansi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:13pm
Sure you could, but why would you?

I would say you'll get more out of the competition if you roll the dice afresh each time. 

If you've built characters and worlds you're proud of - why not expand on them - outside this competition? 

For the flash competition round just passed, I wrote about a time travelling, dimension hopping band of welsh mythological heroes. I've half a mind to expand it into a longer graphic novel. 

Thats whats so great about this competition. It really increases your creative output. 

I wouldn't want to hinder that by writing about the same worlds and forgo the chance to forge new ones.

Having said that, do what you want!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Phobos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:20pm
Originally posted by vkmartin vkmartin wrote:

The only real hindrance I can see would be relying on someone to have read the first story to understand what's happening in the second.

My point would not be to make a continuous storyline that requires a lot of extra work on the reader's part, but more to drop a well-developed character into a new situation and use the challenge to explore how s/he would react.

For my mystery character, I'm talking Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot.  You don't have to read every Sherlock book to feel the depth of his relationship with Watson or Professor Moriarti.  There are nods and winks and easter eggs, sure, but it's fulfilling to read only one self-contained story.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vkmartin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:24pm
Yeah, it's definitely something you can avoid, as long as your actively conscious of the fact that you know the first story and may let it inform your choices more than you realize. That said, it could also be a good way of bringing in a character who feels developed and who has had a life beyond the confines of the single story.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote manifestlynot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:46pm
Hmm. I'd be more inclined to take a character I've created in one of these contests and use them in my own story, rather than in another contest entry. I like the idea of starting fresh each time and having the challenge of building a character out of nothing.

I will also say that I have read good examples of carry-over examples, and I have read examples that were more difficult to understand without reading previous entries, so the quality of the writing can be a big decider.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stephenmatlock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 2:00pm
Do what you want. As long as your work isn't identifiable--that is, breaking the veil of anonymity that you promised to wear--your work is yours alone.

My educated guess is you don't want to depend upon any other story you wrote to explain your new story.

But AFAIK the judges don't read the forums, and unless the judge is someone you submitted a story to in a publication, they shouldn't know who you are from round to round.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Phobos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 2:07pm
In terms of anonymity, the results page has my full name, city, etc.  If I did get the same judge in a future competition, it would not be hard to connect.

Once again, my point is not to cause the reader to rely on a prior story, it's to develop a character into something robust enough to stand on its own in multiple self-contained stories.

At any rate, it seems like the consensus is "you're free to do what you want, but it's a bad idea".

I'm cool with that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote haole Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 2:09pm
I think it would be more problematic if they did recognize the character, because they might be just as likely to assume you lifted the character from someone else's work than that you were the original creator of it
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote gretchasketch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 6:02pm
Hmm. I think using characters or world-building you've done outside the current contest (even if it was created during a previous contest) could be considered in violation of paragraphs 16 & 17 of the rules. All "creative development" must take place during the writing weekend, and no preparations may be made ahead of time. I mean, it's one of those things where it's not likely anyone will know (unless they had read your previous story), but why chance disqualification?

16. Creative Development - All Creative Development” for the stories created must take place within the window of time between: (A) the date and time of start of each challenge (“Genre, Location & Object Announcement”); and (B) thedate and time of the end of each challenge (“Story Submission Deadline”) (hereafter, the “Challenge Story Window”).The Challenge Story Window for each challenge is listed below:
page4image1675550448

Challenge
1
st round - Challenge #1: 1st round - Challenge #2: 2nd round - Challenge #3: 3rd round - Challenge #4 :

Genre, Location & Object Announcement 11:59PM EDT on July 12, 2019 11:59PM EDT on September 13, 2019

11:59PM EDT on November 8, 2019 11:59PM EDT on December 13, 2019

Story Submission Deadline
11:59PM EDT on July 14, 2019. 11:59PM EDT on September 15, 2019. 11:59PM EDT on November 10, 2019. 11:59PM EDT on December 15, 2019.

Creative Development” includes, but is not limited to, writing an ORIGINAL synopsis and short story, from first draft to final draft, within the Challenge Story Window. No revisions or missing pages will be accepted once the first attempt at an entry has been received by the LLC. Do NOT supplement your entry with any subsequent mailings or forwarding of documents, as such will be grounds for disqualification and forfeiture of any Entry Fee. All decisions as to compliance with the Challenge Story Windows are within the sole discretion of the LLC; and any such decisions by the LLC are final, conclusive, and binding upon all Entrants. The LLC naturally reserves the right to disqualify any Entries which are plagiaristic or otherwise unoriginal to the corresponding Entrant.

17. Preparations - The ONLY work that may take place in connection with the Contest prior to the date and time of the genre, location and object announcements in each challenge, is the preparation, execution, and submission of required documents to NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness, LLC.



Edited by gretchasketch - 07 Nov 2019 at 6:03pm
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