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Author Topic: 300 Word Flash Fiction Contest!  (Read 31668 times)
SFEley
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« on: January 13, 2007, 04:27:07 PM »

With the aid of an anonymous donor, Escape Pod is presenting a contest for the best SF story of 300 words or less. There are no restrictions on theme, plot, or structure. The goal is simply to present a strong idea-based story in the minimum space possible.

To enter, simply send your name, address, and the title and story to contest@escapepod.org. Please look at our submission guidelines for formatting instructions. This is effectively an Escape Pod story submission; only the selection process is different. Please send a maximum of three stories to us. If you happen to have a trunk full of really short pieces, select your three best.

After you’ve sent your story, I’ll strip your name from it and post it to a members-only area on the Escape Pod forum. Because it won’t be publicly viewable or searchable, it shouldn’t count as ‘published’ by anyone’s guidelines, and you’ll retain all rights to the story. Interested forum members will be able to review the stories and comment on them. On February 1, I’ll create a poll (or a series of polls, if there are too many entries) and invite people to select their favorites.

The highest-rated story will receive an Escape Pod contract to run their story as flash fiction at a rate of $100. That’s five times our standard flash rate.

The second-highest rated story will receive a contract at a rate of $50.

The third-highest rated story will receive a standard flash contract, and so will any others that I, as EP’s editor, think are excellent choices for Escape Pod.

The stories will then be produced in audio and will go out on Escape Pod’s feed, and be made available for any other non-commercial use as specified in our Creative Commons license.

The deadline is January 31, 2007. Anything we receive after that will be forwarded back to our usual submissions process.

Sound like fun? Any questions?

Go to it, and we look forward to seeing your (very short) work!
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ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
tdmca
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2007, 09:47:49 AM »

I understand that your very busy and that the contest has likely only made that worse, but I was wondering if you are sending out confirmations when you recieve the submissions and what the delay is on them.  I submitted a story and I'm curious if it has been received and wondering how I shoudl wait before I query?

Thanks
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Terry

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SFEley
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2007, 12:05:17 PM »

I understand that your very busy and that the contest has likely only made that worse, but I was wondering if you are sending out confirmations when you recieve the submissions and what the delay is on them.  I submitted a story and I'm curious if it has been received and wondering how I shoudl wait before I query?

I haven't been sending out confirmations that the stories were received; I've only been sending out notices after posting the stories here.  If you sent it to contest@escapepod.org you can trust that it was received.
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ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
JRMurdock
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2007, 04:00:28 PM »

Thanks for the info Steve! You rock. I'm not just saying that. I've been following EP from episode 1 and I've been hooked ever since. And now a contest? It just keeps getting better and better.

Thank you

J.R.
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smartbombradio
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2007, 10:14:39 PM »

Trick to 300 words I've found...  Use the title to help tell the story.  Having an extra couple words to frame the idea helps a LOT.

Also, Listed this contest over at my usual Haunt the pickle, hope it pulled in some more entries.

http://www.podcastpickle.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=11339&st=0

Maybe with all of this good flash he'll be able to pick up a few dozen and make escape pod bi-weekly, with a flash monday then a regular episode tuesday.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 10:31:54 PM by smartbombradio » Logged

Laurence Simon
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2007, 10:02:56 AM »

Using the title to set up the story is a good suggestion.

Other ways to save on your word budget-
1) Use well-known historical figures or characters as protagonists.
2) Exploit stereotypes
3) Contractions
4) Get rid of he said/she said after first exchange.
5) Use simple names, switch to first name quickly.
6) Flash Fiction never takes place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Place names are single words.

Others?
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Lagwolf
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2007, 03:12:36 AM »

Use lots of contractions...especially in dialogue.
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smartbombradio
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2007, 03:18:20 AM »

Use lots of contractions...especially in dialogue.

And when the contractions are less than three words apart, the story is ready to be born.
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Gary
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2007, 08:06:12 PM »

Use lots of contractions...especially in dialogue.

And when the contractions are less than three words apart, the story is ready to be born.

Ouch.
Least you could do is offer some anesthesia before you hit us with another one of those!    Roll Eyes
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billmtracer
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2007, 11:20:13 PM »

I don't think exploiting stereotypes is necessarily a good idea, unless you want your story to be cliché.

Stereotypes are lies!
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2007, 12:10:07 AM »

"Stereotypes are lies!"

Yeah, to a certain extent, sure.

I suspect the "exploit stereotypes" suggestion was less meant to say "please invoke the fragile-boned blue-eyed little girl to yank everyone's pity chain AGAIN" and more meant to say "come into a situation that has standard narrative edges, so that the reader can fill in the exposition wihtout being expressly given the exposition."

If I say "scientist" "lab" "robot" there's a lot of exposition that you've probably filled in for me in your mind. If I then don't do anything to change or subvert that narrative, though, then I've probably created a dud.
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Steven Saus
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2007, 11:27:46 AM »

Just two notes about the mechanics of things I've noticed:

1)  Next time, require plain-text ASCII submissions (like what Notepad makes).  All word processing programs I know of can save as plain-text, and then you don't have wierd quotation or "carriage-return-means-double-spaced-paragraph" formatting issues.

2)  I have noticed that the fewer comments a story gets, the fewer reads (views?) it gets - far more than by the number of responses.  Maybe this is more visible to me because of the way I've been accessing the forums (stolen moments at work, so I see each contest's "main page" multiple times throughout the day in close succession).  It seems like once there's a comment, the views/reads/whatever will start to climb.  Maybe that's because of the way the software orders things;  I dunno.  I am not saying there's anything inimical about it at all.  I repeat:  I am NOT saying it's intentional, even.  It doesn't appear to have much of an effect on votes that I've noticed, so this is an academic thing, but it might make someone feel slighted.
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SFEley
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2007, 12:00:16 PM »

1)  Next time, require plain-text ASCII submissions (like what Notepad makes).  All word processing programs I know of can save as plain-text, and then you don't have wierd quotation or "carriage-return-means-double-spaced-paragraph" formatting issues.

Yeah, we try to reinforce "Use plain text!" in our guidelines.  Success is limited at best.  A lot of people (including some pretty smart writers) honestly don't know what ASCII is, or understand the difference between plain text and HTML e-mail and why there are two options.  And some popular e-mail programs muddy the waters by making rich e-mail an invisible default, or doing their own character set transformations for cosmetic purposes.  (Such as the dreaded smart quotes.)  Sometimes people do their best and things still come out wrong.

This reduces us to two options.  We can be assholes about it, and bounce back everything that isn't pure 7-bit ASCII until the writers figure out how to educate themselves (and possibly install a different mail client just for us); or we can put up with it as best we can.

We choose the "put up with it" route, because ultimately we're not about character sets.  If an author succeeds in communicating prose, we have what we need.  And it's only in a very few cases where things get confused enough to impair understanding, or where pasting it into the forum software makes changes or carries in characters that some people can't see.  We'll just fix those cases as they arise, because it actually is easier than trying to verify everything.


Quote
2)  I have noticed that the fewer comments a story gets, the fewer reads (views?) it gets - far more than by the number of responses.

Sure.  This is just the way the forum software works.  By default, it sorts them in descending order by most recent response.  Not by posting date.  So the story that was most recently commented upon is going to be at the top of the list; and anyone who's reading them in order is going to read it first. 

Also, when there are new comments, you're going to get that "NEW!" icon by the side of the subject, and many people will get e-mail notifications, and a lot of people who already read the thread are going to read it again. 

It doesn't really correlate to the number of times human eyes were set upon the story prose and human minds thought about that prose for the first time.  If you want to get a better sense for that, look at the number of voters.  I think it's safe to assume that most voters read all the stories before voting.  And those numbers are staying pretty strong.
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2007, 01:59:25 PM »

Hey Steve, do we have a final tally of the entries?
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GoodDamon
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2007, 02:00:50 PM »

I'm assuming the semifinals are for the first rounds of stories where voting has closed?
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Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er
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« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2007, 02:30:44 PM »

Also, are you going to "out" the authors of the stories that have not moved on to the semifinals?  I'm sure some of them would like to answer the comments the readers provided. 
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SFEley
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2007, 02:31:30 PM »

Hey Steve, do we have a final tally of the entries?

321.

Yeah.  It's a lot.
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GoodDamon
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2007, 02:38:42 PM »

321.

Yeah.  It's a lot.

Holy crap! That means a lot less than half -- 108, to be specific -- have been posted!
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Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er
J.R. Blackwell
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2007, 04:26:22 PM »

I just want to say what a great idea this is. I love this contest because I get to read some new science fiction each day.

I love short stories and I love huge, long novels, but there is a special place in my heart for flash fiction. I enjoy popping over here and reading these stories. It feels like I'm eating little bits of candy.

The other fun thing about this contest is watching the voting! I know it's silly (especially because none of my stories are up there) but I really enjoy keeping track of my favorates. It gets me coming back to the forums every day. (Okay, maybe more than once a day)

Can anyone tell that I'm avoiding the writing of my thesis now? Is it written on my face?

Good luck to everyone who submitted!
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Laieanna
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2007, 04:39:30 PM »

Can I make a little suggestion, Steve?  Could you change the semifinal round topic to read Semifinal 1 Groups 1-4   

I'm concerned that people who are just reading stories and voting and maybe not paying attention to some of the other comments might think the semi round is for all the groups up.  Just a suggestion.  Since I have a story up, I'm freaking out for votes.  Can you tell?  Can you tell?   Tongue   Grin
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