2011 Halloween Writing Contest

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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Ragter the junior greeter on Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:11 pm

I found myself reading through your entire post, Ten, and...the last six words completely wreck whatever else you were saying.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:13 pm

Sorry.

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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:05 am

So we finally see the rubric in action. Very Happy
Most interesting. Nod
Personally I'm not into the horror genre, so I haven't read the entries; I just skimmed through the rubric-guided critiques.

The first thing I have to say as a pat-on-the-back for anyone feeling discouraged because of critique, is that Tolkien's work was put down by critics, yet it became one of the best-selling works ever. In other words, know where you stand on your ideas. At the same time, though, remember that good ideas can be well or poorly executed or realized, and a sincere critique is great for growth. In-depth feedback. Nod

The second thing, is that like Ten said, we're all mature here, and trying to placate or dress up a criticism can often come across more annoying than bluntness. There are better ways to word things, obviously, but on the receiving end, if you remember to take the criticisms as they're intended and look past the self-consciousness, it's easier to accept the natural human error of any judge you'll come across.


From my own perspective, having participated in previous contests, I was always disappointed at the lack of "official" feedback from the judges. We mostly just picked the winners, and I always ended up wanting to know more about it.

I suppose the main difference between past contests and this one is that, rather than just taking each story overall, the guidelines help the judges look at each aspect of a story. Someone made a comment about the action category, for example; I assume that it's not the quantity of action that counts but the quality of what action is there.

Maybe we should add an 'Overall' category to it? Maybe that'll give us a big-picture analysis in addition to looking at each element.

We could also do a combination. I'd love to see that.
We could do the rubric, plus the Reader's Choice, plus the Staff Choice (or, I dunno, some catchy name).
Each of those could be taken separately, and then you could combine them all either just for fun or for the final result.

Example:
The Rubric would have the point values, so like 55, 58, 62, 64, 71.
Then the staff could do the 5 stars idea, or something. ***, ***, ****, *****, ***** And have comments. And the staff and the rubric people would be separate, so neither influences the other.
And the readers could chose their top 3, in order. 1,2,4; 5,3,4; 5,1,3; 5,4,2 and so on.
Something like that would be awesome! Very Happy
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Gadreille on Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:46 am

Well now I know just to keep my mouth shut...sorry for pissing a bunch of people off by stating how I honestly felt.

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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Kathryn Lacey on Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:30 pm

Ryona, no one is pissed off about how you feel, and if they are, they may be a bit too sensitive for their own goods.

I think it's wonderful that you're not afraid to voice your honest opinions. If you hadn't, maybe Kalon wouldn't have had some great ideas for how to make things at least a little better. They'll never be perfect because such a thing is unattainable as long as we all have opinions, feelings, and free will. However, if we just blindly thought that everyone was happy with every system, we'd continue to use them exactly as we have been, and we'd never know that there may be things we could/should change, you know?


Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest! You all did really well, and it's great to see such a wonderful turn out! Special congratulations to Ten and to Ryona Noel for their first and second place wins. ^^_^^

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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Gadreille on Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:37 pm

That was my intention, and I was honestly pleased with Christoph's initial response. I wasn't upset with the scores as much as how they were given; we've received scored feedback from other moderators that felt more polished. And by polished I don't mean sugar coated. I mean stating something in a neutral tone. Anyway, I was hoping to encourage the rubric to head in that direction, but instead, well, I got the previous page of posts.

I do like Kalon's ideas.

Edit: And I am sorry on derailing the thread. Perhaps I should have made another, but that felt very strong vs a quiet spoiler box. I did read and thoroughly enjoy all entries!
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Wildsword on Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:35 pm


Don't stress it too much Ryona, stating your opinion especially if it's a critical one on a forum of highly opinionated writers is opening that proverbial can of worms. Smile

I can say my story scored low and there were not a lot of positive things said about it. While I didn't agree with all of it, none of it bothered me much at all. I wrote my piece, it is what it is and if people don't like it... hey it's good to get some humbling feedback on things sometimes.

And I thought the rubric was pretty good, I didn't agree with some of the feedback I got but I really appreciated the time that was taken to really "read" my story. In my review it didn't feel like anything was glossed over and the opinions (weather they were agreeable or not) were well informed considering the context of my story. I like Kalon's idea of an overall score and reader's choice would be cool. As far as polished feedback goes I can understand your frustration with that but the only judges were two fellow writers who kindly devoted a lot of time and effort to review and rate the stories to the best of their abilities. I'm sure having a wider panel of judges would improve the feedback and ratings greatly and I'm sure Christoph and Marcus would be the first to agree but the will has to be there.

As Kathryn said don't be sorry for stepping up and expressing and issue you have with something, that's good. It's a catalyst for change or some thought in the right direction, we eventually got there.... Very Happy

I just wanted to say kudos to you for standing up and saying something and congrats again. I'm looking forward to reading your story....hopefully soon!

Cheers!
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Christoph on Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:46 pm

Ten made a very good point on the subject. A reviewer's tone can only be so neutral. You still have to tell the writer what worked and what didn't based on your best analysis.We're all adults here, so I imagine that everyone can take to-the-point feedback without feeling angry or offended, whether it's feedback regarding their stories in the reviews or feedback about the contest itself. (Obviously nobody is mad at you for speaking your mind, Ryona. Lol.)

I'm not sure what I think of Kalon's idea. It sounds like it would combine all the problematic parts of each contest method. We can't please everyone, unfortunately. Trying to will just please nobody. Still, I'm sure that we will devise something for the next contest to at least somewhat alleviate the remaining concerns. Personally, I think just having a panel of at least three judges all able and willing to write up their own full commentary (nothing against Marcus -- I greatly appreciated his help, but by his own admission he wasn't comfortable in his ability to write detailed feedback -- it's certainly not an easy task). Sure, that might make me the "mean one" by comparison, but I'm okay with that, lol. That way, if somebody is put-off by my particular judging mannerisms he or she could fall back on one of the other judges to hear things said differently, or perhaps to get some insight from a different angle. (I'm just one human being, after all.) Or heck, eventually we might have enough available judges to let me actually enter a contest one day. Which would be cool. Smile
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Gadreille on Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:04 pm

Christoph wrote: I think just having a panel of at least three judges all able and willing to write up their own full commentary (nothing against Marcus -- I greatly appreciated his help, but by his own admission he wasn't comfortable in his ability to write detailed feedback -- it's certainly not an easy task).

Yes. This would help immensely.

Perhaps if judges were not just limited to moderators we would find that we have more volunteers.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Christoph on Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:18 pm

Heheh... I just realized I never technically completed that sentence, instead just launching into a long-winded parenthetical insert. My questionable OOC grammar aside... I would not necessarily mind non-staff judges. That said, judging is one of those things that can, sometimes, sound easy, and I think by this point we have established that it definitely isn't. Fortunately, it wouldn't prove too difficult to teach prospective judges how to effectively and properly use the rubric for their analysis. And from there, it's just a matter of investing the time and effort to judge and judge as well as possible.

As it stands currently, we haven't gotten any volunteers.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Gadreille on Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:22 pm

It's probably something you'd have to ask for. As it stands, non moderators do not know if they CAN volunteer, if you understand what I mean. The last time I volunteered to judge I was told I could not, which was a long time ago but there has never been anything to state that the rules have changed.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:32 pm

Yay, the tone has turned! Group Hug
I agree, feedback is important from everyone. Often negative feedback is more helpful, because if problems aren't brought up, it can't be fixed, and we always want to improve things. Very Happy

It would be AWESOME if non-mods can judge. Then I could enter! xD
I'm sure there are plenty of literate Foggers who might not feel up to or interested in writing an entry for a particular contest but would be more than happy to provide detailed feedback using the rubric, which could then be used as one area of the judging. If we can make a safe place to secretly discuss everything--someplace besides the Staff room--it would be sweet!
The more I think about it, the better an idea it seems. Very Happy We'll probably have to bring this up in the staff room to see if it's feasible. Maybe have a "Contest Panel" usergroup. Nod
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Tartra on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:22 am

BladeBarrier wrote:There's always that person who will get upset if you don't fart rainbows and sneeze butterflies all the time.

The PMs are right there, man. That's the closest I can get to 'let's take this outside'.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Fate Flyer on Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:40 am

I think the main difference between this contest and ones in the past is that Christoph went through and, piece by piece, critiqued each story.

When it was myself announcing the winner after us staff discussed it, I took the time to say a few things that could be better, but also made more of an effort to acknowledge all the strengths of the stories and say all of the things that I really liked and enjoyed. (An example of this can be seen in the Caligo contest.) Being the person that I am lol, I don't like having to point out flaws for people, even if it is for the purpose of helping them to improve and get better, which is why Christoph is such an asset.

I'm not sure if, after awhile, people just got used to my technique in critiquing entries or if this way just makes people kind of feel like they need to stand up and defend their stories. And that's perfectly understandable, since only the writer knows why they did the things they did, and I can relate. I'm not exactly overly proud of my entry in this contest which I wrote just for the fun of it, and I really wouldn't consider it at all a work of great literature lol, especially since I wrote it all in one sitting, but even despite that, I found myself wanting to dispute a comment (about the dog just being a plot device, since it was actually something I had in mind to include all the along, since much of my inspiration came from a show on Animal Planet). It's in your nature to want to defend your work.

Anyway, if people are feeling like the grading system is making them feel more defeated in their work than encouraged to improve based on the feedback they receive, we can always hold separate contests where we just use the old way to say something about each entry and then announce the winner. Or, if we need to, I suppose we could always create 2 contests for the same thing, one with Christoph's grading system and one without, although we really don't get that many people entering as it is, so that could be spreading entrants pretty thin.

I just don't want people to feel like they don't want to enter contests anymore because they don't want their work to feel threatened, as that was never the point. I don't want to do away with this system of critiquing, as I feel it can really help those who continually want feedback to improve, but I realize there are those here too that feel they are in a good place in their writing ability and that they don't want their stories to be analyzed so thoroughly. So, I think we can maybe meet on some middle ground so that everyone can be happy. :]

How about this: It will just depend on which staff member is creating the official FoG contest to decide how entries will be reviewed. If Christoph starts a contest, then he will be using his grading rubric to critique each entry. If it's me creating the contest, you will be subject to the altruistic feedback of myself. If it's any other staff member creating a contest, you will have to read about their contest in order to find out which method they'd like to use.

Does that sound fair to everyone? I hope so!


EDIT: I noticed I missed reading some replies here, and so I just read Kalon's post. I think he has some good ideas too. I like there being multiple categories, but I'll leave that decision more up to Christoph, as this rubric really is his creation.

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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Gadreille on Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:38 am

Fate, I think if there were multiple judges using multiple tones of grading it would "even out" the contest and make it enjoyable for everyone. It would also make it feel more like "FOG's" contest than "Moderator X Y or Z's" contest.

Like you said, it worries me because if enough people feel more down about their work than encouraged to try harder, there goes our contest entries.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Sólrökr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:41 pm

Before I start, this is not directed at anyone.

Here's the thing about writing: You have to prove to yourself before anything else that you are a capable writer, and be comfortable with that in the face of adversity; but at the same time, you have to consider your audience, and consider other view points, because we are not infallible as writers, and though the prose may work in our own minds, it may be completely illegible to others. It could also be totally uninteresting to other people.

Writing is not about being pat on the back. The writing industry is a harsh, uncaring business that doesn't give two shits about you – only if your writing appeals to a certain demographic. Christoph's reviews are incredibly tame compared to some you will get throughout your life. People will not hesitate in telling you, to your face, that your work is an abomination (Whether it's true or not doesn't matter. Consider that new authors are also threats to an agent's/publisher's other clients.).

Take the good, reject the bad. Make it your mantra if necessary. Hurt feelings won't do anyone any good, especially not writers, who are notoriously influenced by them.

On another note, more reviewers is a great idea. It diversifies the taste, reading prowess, and articulation.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Tartra on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:43 pm

That's a good message. I like it.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Christoph on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:53 pm

Ryona: From personal experience, I can say that it's almost impossible to write a review with that "encouraging" tone that you would like while also providing the same level of helpful and detailed analysis. The initial instinctive reaction to criticism is to think of the reviewer as a hack who doesn't know anything. It's a subconscious defense mechanism, and everyone feels it in some capacity or another (myself included). It can take some time before a writer can go back and look at his or her work and the critiques objectively. That's why I will go back and reread reviews I have received even months after the fact.

That said, I'm glad that we agree on using a judge panel for future contests. I wouldn't want to contests to feel like "X moderator's" contest, and I definitely don't want the Rubric to feel like a "Christoph thing". It should be an FoG thing, something that we can all learn to use and benefit from.

Random asides:

Sol ninja'd me, but I definitely agree with what he had to say. Of course, not everyone has publication aspirations, which is why I would never use THAT harsh a tone in judging an FoG contest. I do tend to judge my own tone by those standards though, which is why I can seem harsh to some anyway.

Fate: I didn't figure that the dog actually -was- inserted as a convenient plot device; I only pointed out that it felt that way. It was a good plot device in any case, randomly-inserted or otherwise. Wink
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Sólrökr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:59 pm

Indeed, Christoph, not everyone has aspirations for publication, but the standards of writing aren't just for those seeking publication. They are rules of comprehension – for the people reading. Some people enjoy the act of writing for themselves, but writing is not meant for the self, it is meant as a form of communication, and with that considered, the act of writing and writing for publication are forever intertwined.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Gadreille on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:00 pm

It can be done, Christoph. I've had my work ripped apart by Ph. D's on a weekly basis and their tone can be encouraging (Not always, obviously, it depends on the teacher). I think trying to be more encouraging while still criticizing the work to the level which the rubric requires is a worthy goal and shouldn't be brushed off as impossible.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Ragter the junior greeter on Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:38 pm

Sólrökr wrote:Indeed, Christoph, not everyone has aspirations for publication, but the standards of writing aren't just for those seeking publication. They are rules of comprehension – for the people reading. Some people enjoy the act of writing for themselves, but writing is not meant for the self, it is meant as a form of communication, and with that considered, the act of writing and writing for publication are forever intertwined.

I agree with a lot of the opinions on here, but...not so much this one. Writing can definitely be an act for yourself; I've written stories just for myself before, just because I felt like doing them. I've never let anyone see or read them though because I know I'm probably never going to continue them. I only ever put out stuff I know I'll continue or stuff that's rather short, like this contest entry. Just because you write something doesn't mean it's destined to be published, whether that be in an actual book or online.

Also, random note: Wow, we can attach a lot of different file types to posts on here. What's a 3g2 anyway? :/
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Blade Barrier on Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:46 pm

I tend to not take feedback aimed at me seriously when it's all positive. I always end up thinking "this guy is BSing me." when I get a string of compliments, so I actually like the way Christoph reviews. I only didn't join because although I love the horror theme, I don't understand the horror genre. I also didn't want to arm myself with tools for hating the rubric when I was still trying to decide if I liked it or not.

And somebody give Sólrökr a medal! Yes! writing is fun and it's a neat way to pass time, but if you're going to keep doing it, what not try and achieve excellence? I mean, if you're going to join a competition, you are freakin' COMPETING! you are going to be judged and compared to your opponents. As long as you don't take it too personally, you'll get through just fine.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

Post by Sólrökr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:52 pm

Ragter the junior greeter wrote:I agree with a lot of the opinions on here, but...not so much this one. Writing can definitely be an act for yourself; I've written stories just for myself before, just because I felt like doing them. I've never let anyone see or read them though because I know I'm probably never going to continue them. I only ever put out stuff I know I'll continue or stuff that's rather short, like this contest entry. Just because you write something doesn't mean it's destined to be published, whether that be in an actual book or online.

Also, random note: Wow, we can attach a lot of different file types to posts on here. What's a 3g2 anyway? :/

I'm not going to directly respond to your post, because I feel like it'd seem more hostile than I want it to. I'll surmise by just saying that: Writing is communication. Communication requires two parties. This is why writing for the self and writing for an audience share nearly ALL literary normatives, and only diverge when people intentionally acknowledge their similarities and attempt to separate them, sometimes as a form of art, and other times as a form of rebellion. Poetry would be a good example – They can be like an inside joke with yourself that no one can truly understand but you, yet people pull their own meaning from it.
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Re: 2011 Halloween Writing Contest

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