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Trust your readers, but don't trust your judges

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OnyxLily View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote OnyxLily Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 1:33pm
Originally posted by jennifer.quail jennifer.quail wrote:

I'll put mine in my thread, too, when I'm home and not on my phone, but now the Capitalization Fairy is saying to capitalize words in the log line. (When I see people do that I think "This person does not routinely write prose fiction.") And we have journalism style tips from another one. 

One does think it's more or less perfect, so there's that.

I'm guessing your journalism tip was from 1610? That judge seems a bit obsessed with the compelling ingredients of a logline, and "in the world of journalism"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anansi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 1:36pm
Yep. 

My second story did great in this round. It was ok. My first (much better imo) story did average. 

The judging is highly subjective, and sometimes just wrong. 

My first time entering this contest was January this year, and I almost never came back because one judge objected to the existence of the word 'negro' in a piece of historical fiction.

And that was their only comment.

I've since learnt that the word has fairly recently taken on a different resonance in the USA. Whereas in the rest of the English speaking world it is still a neutral (if rather archaic) term. 

Shame that a judge would force their own cultural neurosis on a participant, but it's not uncommon it seems. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChristiLB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 1:42pm
Originally posted by NerdyDan NerdyDan wrote:

Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

...and the first one begins.  I should get a quipe doll.

I spend money to enter a contest AND to get feedback from judges. 

When it is clear that the judges don't read the stories that were submitted, am I not supposed to have a problem with that? 

In my story, for example (spoiler alert), my character was wrongly convicted of a DWI. His friend was driving and winds up dead. Judge 1909 said that my main character should have been written to have more remorse for killing his friend. Except he didn't kill his friend at all. 

I totally understand what you're saying about the judges' feedback. There have been times when I've been so frustrated with their critiques, but I'm actually really happy with mine for once. The only small thing I'd like to offer, is to maybe consider why the judges were confused or thought the MC killed his friend. Someone once gave me some really helpful advice about writing - When you hand your story off to be read and get feedback, do not try to explain anything to your reader if they don't get what you've written, because you won't be able to explain it to your readers if you were to publish a book or short story in a magazine. The story might make perfect sense to you and you might feel you've included more than enough info to get the point across, but if the reader doesn't get it, or is confused, that's usually the biggest and most important piece of info you can get about your story and where you might need to work to make things more clear.

I am, by no means, any kind of professional writer, nor did I read your story, so please take my comments with a grain of salt. Just thought I'd pass along some words of wisdom that were given to me at one point and really changed my writing process for the better.  Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChristiLB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 1:44pm
Originally posted by Phobos Phobos wrote:

Maybe I've lowered my expectations after the 1st story, but the feedback this time was much, much more productive this time than the 1st story...

I feel the same way - I love my feedback this round. The suggestions they offered were very specific with examples of what they meant, which I find really helpful. I'm extremely pleased this round.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NerdyDan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 1:51pm
Originally posted by Preyingcloud Preyingcloud wrote:

I found the feedback I received from the judges largely mirrored not only the forum feedback but also my own concerns. Overall, I think I was scored fairly and while I had a few feedback comments I am not sure I entirely understand or agree with, the comments were pretty solid. 

I mean you could have been incredibly unlucky and pulled three idiots or you (collectively addressed to all who are upset with their feedback) may not be seeing your own work through the eyes of the reader. I know one of my Achilles heels is forgetting the reader doesn't already have the information I have at times. As a result, sometimes stuff appears in my writing (even my professional writing) that appears to come out of left field. Even if I re-read my piece a million times I don't see the disconnect myself because I assumed everyone already has this info so I just fill  in the blank unconsciously. It's possible that your feedback might just be a habitual Blindspot. 
I mean one way to find out would be to ask people to give feedback on your feedback to see if you can learn from it or whether it can be disregarded. However, if someone does you this favour, etiquette would dictate that it is bad manners to lash out at them if you don't like what they have to say... In case that's not something that is widely understood

I did post the feedback on my thread specifically so people could give feedback on the feedback. And if someone was like "I think this criticism is valid" and gave reasons I would take that without "lashing out" at them. 

But I mean one of my judges literally turned my main character into a murderer when that was clearly not the case in my story. In my previous story I was criticized by one judge for putting internal monologue in quotes and not italics. Problem there is that in the very next paragraph another character reacted to what this judge thought should have been in quotes. I had not established that anyone was a mind reader in my story and as such that made it very clear that the words were spoken aloud and as such the judge wrongly felt that it was internal monologue. And as a judge, that should have been clear. 

Someone else shared their feedback and it included things like "I would consider wording things differently" and gave examples. That is extremely helpful and something that can be carried on to the next competition. 

I have a feeling in my mff contest that the judges are gonna criticize me for not italicizing the internal dialogue when the submission form didn't allow for formatting. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote amlewi08 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 2:54pm
Ehhh, I trust them both.  I'd characterize my judging feedback as solid insofar, especially in the scope of how to expand my work.  

It seems to me that, while there are a few judges out their that genuinely didn't do their job, the vast majority of them are perfectly fine.  I think sometimes the issue is less the judges, and more us not being able to see the fallacies in our own work. Like someone else said, it's so easy to forget that the readers aren't necessarily in the same head-space as the author. 

That being said, all of us being writers of some capacity or another, surely we can agree that the writer's ego is fairly fragile in general. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote manifestlynot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 3:08pm
Originally posted by jennifer.quail jennifer.quail wrote:

I'll put mine in my thread, too, when I'm home and not on my phone, but now the Capitalization Fairy is saying to capitalize words in the log line. (When I see people do that I think "This person does not routinely write prose fiction.") And we have journalism style tips from another one. 

One does think it's more or less perfect, so there's that.

I hope everyone who gets this judge reports this poor feedback. It offends me on every possible level that there is a person out there encouraging writers to capitalize archetypes and impute (outdated) journalism skills into a narrative writing format. Just ugh. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 3:14pm
My main gripe with feedback is that it is not relevant or even realistic for a 1,000 word flash piece. It’s good fodder for thought if I wanted to extend the piece but not for what I’ve done. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NerdyDan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 3:31pm
Originally posted by amlewi08 amlewi08 wrote:

Ehhh, I trust them both.  I'd characterize my judging feedback as solid insofar, especially in the scope of how to expand my work.  

It seems to me that, while there are a few judges out their that genuinely didn't do their job, the vast majority of them are perfectly fine.  I think sometimes the issue is less the judges, and more us not being able to see the fallacies in our own work. Like someone else said, it's so easy to forget that the readers aren't necessarily in the same head-space as the author. 

That being said, all of us being writers of some capacity or another, surely we can agree that the writer's ego is fairly fragile in general. 


How many judges does it take for it to become more than just a "few". 

So far we have: 
The Capitalization Fairy
1610 (who consistently criticizes the synopsis) 
and at least two judges of mine who proved they didn't pay attention to the story they read. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fabala Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Nov 2019 at 8:22pm
For my first flash fiction story, I got a great result and overall great feedback. But I was puzzled by some of that "expand this" and "add more here" comments. Because I was right at the edge of the word limit and didn't see how I could remove something else for the sake of those additions.

But realistically, you can look at the feedback as advice on how to improve THAT STORY. Not for the sake of the contest, but for the story's sake. Whatever you wish to do with it beyond this contest.

And that helped, because I'd been considering seeing what I could do with the first to maybe get it published.
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