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Author Topic: 300 Word Flash Fiction Contest!  (Read 62361 times)

Birnam Wood

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Reply #25 on: February 02, 2007, 10:19:48 AM
I mentioned this before, but for anyone who missed it - I often paste stuff into Notepad first then copy that and paste it into whatever.   

This is not a perfect method.  I've gotten one message from an author in this contest who did do the paste-into-Notepad thing, and still had smart quotes in his story that messed up reading for some.  It doesn't seem to do anything about character sets.

I am thinking that submitting via a form on a secure web page might reduce the formatting problem.  Pasting into my Verizon net mail web page from word I noticed extra character returns which I was able to manually delete.  So, it was doing something like the character set conversion you are looking for.

If people had to submit their stories by posting them, and the field on the web page would convert to ASCII, they could edit it manually.  Give people the ability to save and use a few edit tools prior to formally submitting and it might work really well.  I don't know how effectively it can be done, but it should be at least as effective as notepad and it is something that can be enforced.  This might be harder for longer works, but it seems like it would be a good strategy for any future contests you might do and flash fiction in general.



slic

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Reply #26 on: February 02, 2007, 02:49:27 PM
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I've gotten one message from an author in this contest who did do the paste-into-Notepad thing...
I didn't mean the author, I meant you, Steve.  Once the text leaves Notepad, whatever app/client it is pasted into will "fix" it.  For example, paste something with quotes into Notepad then copy/paste into Word - the Auto Text feature will make them smart quotes.

I meant you take the email, copy/paste it into whatever the MAC equivalent is for Notepad and copy/paste than into the Forum.



SFEley

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Reply #27 on: February 02, 2007, 06:14:00 PM
I didn't mean the author, I meant you, Steve.  Once the text leaves Notepad, whatever app/client it is pasted into will "fix" it.  For example, paste something with quotes into Notepad then copy/paste into Word - the Auto Text feature will make them smart quotes.

<groan>

Putting up a new group every day takes long enough already without having to jump through a text-editor-shaped hoop with every single piece.  I'm already annoyed that we live in a software world ridiculous enough for this problem to manifest; your proposed solution feels like a complete surrender to absurdity.  And it's more work.

I think the current workflow has worked fine:

1.) I will post the stories as they were delivered;

2.) If you can't see quotation marks or apostrophes on any story and you think they should be there, say so and I will exercise my power to bend time and space.  (I.e., I will modify the post to fix it.)

Are there any real, untenable problems with that?  I doubt any author would be thrilled to know that for a few hours, some subset of people were reading their piece wrong, but if you're prompt about reporting the problem, it'll get fixed quickly.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


GoodDamon

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Reply #28 on: February 02, 2007, 06:39:19 PM
Like I mentioned elsewhere, I live to copy-edit, so I don't have a problem with flagging missing apostrophes for you.  ;D

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


slic

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Reply #29 on: February 02, 2007, 07:13:39 PM
I certainly didn't mean to imply you should do it - just trying to clarify what I meant.  

I agree, the cost-benefit ratio is too small - not enough of them turn up wonky to merit the extra work.

Quote
...your proposed solution feels like a complete surrender to absurdity
Oh, it is, but I have it down to a semi-automatic process that is fairly quick for me.  



SFEley

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Reply #30 on: February 02, 2007, 09:37:17 PM
Yeah, and I'm sorry if I came off snappish.

It's been a somewhat shitty couple of days, for mundane and bureaucratic reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with Escape Pod or these forums.  I've been in a bad mood for a while now, but I try not to carry that over to places like this. 

(And I can't vent at the targets that deserve it, like the Georgia state government, because there's no surface there to find traction.  So I internalize my frustration instead.  Modern life.  Argh.)

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


slic

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Reply #31 on: February 02, 2007, 09:52:11 PM
No worries. 
To get out my frustrations, I roll up the windows in my car and curse out (or maybe explete at ;-) every driver on the commute home - not road rage, just an innocuous near-continuous torrent of foul language.  I always feel better when I pull into the driveway.
If you don't have a commute (I seem to recall something in an intro/outro about you working from home) then maybe bash a pillow alone in the basement.  Internalizing can lead to combustion - just ask your car.

Is now a good time to wish you an early happy b-day? (I'm not stalking - saw it on the forum calendar ;-)



Heradel

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Reply #32 on: February 02, 2007, 10:14:54 PM
Yeah, while a lot of us are dying to see our work posted (then ruthlessly eviscerated), we all understand that you're human, and that this shouldn't be priority one for you.

Thanks. We appreciate it.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Skip N2EI

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Reply #33 on: February 04, 2007, 03:15:10 PM
I am noticing something on most of the contest groups lists. As you view the group page, it is fairly clear, in many cases, that the stories posted at the top are being read more frequently than stories lower on each of the group lists. Maybe it is just simple fatigue and I have no way of knowing from this is it is having any bearing on the voting. I just thought I would point it out as a curiosity worth looking into.



SFEley

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Reply #34 on: February 04, 2007, 04:21:20 PM
I am noticing something on most of the contest groups lists. As you view the group page, it is fairly clear, in many cases, that the stories posted at the top are being read more frequently than stories lower on each of the group lists. Maybe it is just simple fatigue and I have no way of knowing from this is it is having any bearing on the voting. I just thought I would point it out as a curiosity worth looking into.

It's because the forum software sorts by most recent response by default.  And if someone just left a comment, everyone else is going to read that thread again to see what the comment was. 

I.e., the major correlation is between views and number of comments.  The position on the index page is just a side effect.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


corradus

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Reply #35 on: February 05, 2007, 03:20:28 PM
I don't know wether or not stories at the top of the list are being read more than those at the bottom and I don't really care.  I wrote my story (Kidpower! - which I think is safe to identify because it didn't make the cut) and it was beat out for third place by one vote but I really had a good time with it.

I think that had my story perhaps been better or had a better title I might have gotten more votes and attracted more interest, but I am not gonna beat myself or the judges up over it.  Public opinion is what it is and the job of a successful writer is to write what the most people enjoy.  I didn't - ergo I lost.  No biggie.

*I* think the contest was done as fairly as could be envisioned in a timely manner and I have no complaints about the administration or judging of the contest whatsoever.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have entered.

Thanks again!



Heradel

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Reply #36 on: February 05, 2007, 08:40:37 PM
...
I think that had my story perhaps been better or had a better title I might have gotten more votes and attracted more interest, but I am not gonna beat myself or the judges up over it.  Public opinion is what it is and the job of a successful writer is to write what the most people enjoy.  I didn't - ergo I lost.  No biggie.
...

I take it you don't watch Extras.

I don't think you could get any large group of writers to agree what it is to be successful, but I don't think most of them would use popularity as a major barometer. Not  that it doesn't matter, it does, but I'd argue that if you dilute the material in order to appeal to a larger audience, you've diluted the material.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


slic

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Reply #37 on: February 06, 2007, 01:12:45 AM
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...but I don't think most of them would use popularity as a major barometer...
I certainly disagree with that.  Many writers would use commercial success as a very clear barometer of having done a great job. 

Appealing to the lowest common denominator is usually a bad idea, but being popular doesn't mean you've done that.



Heradel

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Reply #38 on: February 06, 2007, 02:21:06 AM
And I'm not saying commercial success shouldn't be used, but are we going to argue that Tom Clancy is the same as Franz Kafka? Clancy has probably outsold Kafka, but I wouldn't argue that means he's more successful.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #39 on: February 06, 2007, 02:26:31 AM
I think this is a case where it depends on the writer you're talking about.

For instance, Michael Swanwick advised our Clarion West class to "let Joe Hack write the story for you."

And in my MFA program, people tend to be pretty suspicious of books that have sold well.



ClintMemo

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Reply #40 on: February 06, 2007, 02:43:16 AM
As a total hack, amateur, writer wanna-be, I would say that success is at least partially defined by what the author is trying to accomplish.  People like Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton (and several others) write books with the intention of having them become best sellers.  When it happens, they are successful. Other people write things because they feel they MUST write them or go insane.  I think for them, if they can take that inner demon and trap him onto the page in form that other people can enjoy, then they have succeeded.  If it ends up on a best seller list, then so much the better.

Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.


slic

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Reply #41 on: February 06, 2007, 03:44:44 AM
I read your reply, Heradel, to imply that "intellectual" books are different than entertainment.  Of course they are, text books and comic books are completely different too.  But I think any author wants their writing to be enjoyed/understood, and by more people, the better.  Sure, if I write a story and my kids love it and treasure it forever, I've been successful.  If one of my stories makes it to these finals, I'll be very happy, perhaps even successful - but I'd be happier and very argueably more successful if I sold that same story to an anthology that sold millions and it won a Hugo.

Quote
I don't think you could get any large group of writers to agree what it is to be successful, but I don't think most of them would use popularity as a major barometer.
If you can make good money doing something you love then you are a success (and I don't think anyone writes because they hate doing it).  And one way to make good money is to be a commerical success, and about the only way I can see to be a commerical success is to write something popular.  So, I do think most writer would use populartiy as a barometer of success.

Ravel may have grown to hate his creation, Bolero, but he wouldn't not consider it unsuccessful.



Heradel

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Reply #42 on: February 06, 2007, 06:30:41 AM
Personally I'm regretting the use of the word successful, because it's a word that means everything and thus nothing. Personally I think the paragon of writing is someone like Shakespeare whose written something that, though it is a commercial success, is moreover something that will endure. The ability of those plays or of Kafka's novels or TS Elliot's poems to stay relevant long after the authors and their times are dead is my own personal barometer of "success". Granted this fails when the authors have died in recent years or are being pesky and not dying, but I can look for qualities that seem like they will endure. For example, Terry Pratchett's treatment of governments and politics has a bit of a timeless human sheen to them, and the social satire is always as funny as biting.

At one extreme Shakespeare died well off from his writing, at the other, Kafka never publish most of his works and they were only published because a friend of his decided not to honor his promises to Kafka. It's hard to argue that Shakespeare was a more "successful" writer because he made money from his creations.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #43 on: February 06, 2007, 06:53:48 AM
"But I think any author wants their writing to be enjoyed/understood, and by more people, the better. "

FTR, that's not true.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #44 on: February 06, 2007, 06:58:22 AM
OK. I take that back. It is true on a literal level.

However, when we're talking about intellectual or experimental writing, most authors know that their work will only be understood by a slice of the reading population. In order to be understood by more people, they would have to alter their writing goals. So while I think it's true they wish more people appreciated experimental writing (see Ben Marcus, Harper's), they don't want to go to the audience, they want the audience to come to them.

Sometimes obscurity becomes cachet. I'm taking a writing workshop right now with a woman who won the Pulitzer and is reputed to be a genius. Recently, a bunch of us MFA muddlers were completely flummoxed by a very beautiful but puzzling piece written by another student. Our professor declared it perfect in its thematically linked, non-linear, non-explicated splendor. There's a certain prestige in having your writing be understood by the genius.

It's the opposite of Greg Bear's "get their beer money" mindset.



slic

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Reply #45 on: February 06, 2007, 01:10:07 PM
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...they don't want to go to the audience, they want the audience to come to them.
Absolutely.  And I agree some authors are more shy or recluse than others and may prefer a smaller audience.  Not everyone wants to be top o' the world.



GoodDamon

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Reply #46 on: February 06, 2007, 07:26:53 PM
It's the opposite of Greg Bear's "get their beer money" mindset.

I want it both ways. ;)

Damon Kaswell: Reader, writer, and arithmetic-er


hautdesert

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Reply #47 on: February 06, 2007, 08:48:42 PM
It's the opposite of Greg Bear's "get their beer money" mindset.

I want it both ways. ;)

Me too!!!!  :)



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #48 on: February 06, 2007, 08:52:05 PM
OK, but now we have to think of three writers who get that niche! I call Margaret Atwood's. ;)



Steven Saus

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Reply #49 on: February 07, 2007, 01:59:31 AM
I think that had my story perhaps been better or had a better title I might have gotten more votes and attracted more interest, but I am not gonna beat myself or the judges up over it.  Public opinion is what it is and the job of a successful writer is to write what the most people enjoy.  I didn't - ergo I lost.  No biggie.

I think I mentioned this elsewhere, but there's not a clear correlation between number of reads and number of votes.  In fact, there's several that had a high number of reads (because of the comment threads, sometimes on exactly how bad the story was) and the fewest number of votes.

Walking is the process of controlled stumbling.