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Goals SFWA - Membership as a primary consideration

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angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Topic starter
 

I think for many in the forums, the Contest is their primary consideration. Makes sense!
But for some it may be that joining the Science Fiction Writers of America is the proximal goal and we have, perhaps, a different take.

Especially as winning WOTF has, now, no direct effect on qualifying for SFWA...

—Anyone care to chat with this in mind? I'll go first:

I feel like writing to the contest for years is maybe not the very best apprenticeship one can complete? 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 6:46 am
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Posts: 353
Silver Star Member
 

Following the Super Secrets, and after taking the Online Course from Writers of the Future, and entering this contest each quarter, I have been published and am now a member of SFWA. The tools that are provided here are the reason for my success. 

2019 Quarters: 3rd -- R, 4th -- R
2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- HM
2022 Quarters: 1st -- SHM, 2nd -- RWC, 3rd -- RWC, 4th -- HM
2023 Quarters: 1st -- pending
Published in: Martian Magazine, Galaxy's Edge magazine, Daily Science Fiction, LTUE Anthology Parliament of Wizards, Sci Fi Lampoon
Critters Award for Best Positive Short Story "Follow the Pretrons"

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 6:54 am
Joni Labaqui, Cherrie, David Hankins and 2 people reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
Silver Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @crlisle

Following the Super Secrets, and after taking the Online Course from Writers of the Future, and entering this contest each quarter, I have been published and am now a member of SFWA. The tools that are provided here are the reason for my success. 

That's great, and congrats!
I'm also likely to "pro out" within the near future, but my training comes from years in Journalism.
It's not that I think the training, the discipline of the Contest is valueless but... I'll give you an example:

I often see criticism or analysis on the forums that looks a lot like a reflection of the "received wisdom" of the Contest community, up to and including the preferences of an editor no longer behind the desk. In that sense, I'm not sure that these colleagues are even being well prepared for the Contest as it evolves.  
Reading the "confessions" of previous contest winners, they seem universally to suggest writing for oneself, rather than the Contest is key. I'm not sure the community fosters that.

(lightly edited for spelling)

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 7:27 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Posts: 713
Platinum Member
 

A side note to this--although it's strictly unofficial, I have heard from someone I trust that while the prize money for a win does not count, which is in keeping with their general stance on contests, they'll consider the regular payment you receive for the story's publication in the WOTF volume towards your SFWA qualification earnings, if you choose to declare them as part of your application.

Again, however, this is strictly unofficial, and subject as always to any SFWA rule changes.

DQ:0 / R:0 / RWC:0 / HM:11 / SHM:6 / SF:1 / F:1
Submitted for Q1.V40 and Q2.V40
Last four: SHM • SHM • SF • HM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 11:33 am
angelslayah reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Posts: 713
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Posted by: @angelslayah

I often see criticism or analysis on the forums that looks a lot like a reflection of the "received wisdom" of the Contest community, up to and including the preferences of an editor no longer behind the desk. In that sense, I'm not sure that these colleagues are even being well prepared for the Contest as it evolves.  
Reading the "confessions" of previous contest winners, they seem universally to suggest writing for oneself, rather than the Contest is key. I'm not sure the community fosters that.

I would argue that the second point, of writing for yourself, is key everywhere. It's half of the fun of it, why we want to write in the first place. I'd also say that the forums do foster that, or at least, I've felt that they have for me. I'd personally argue that writing the story you love is almost always the best way to write the best story, too, whether it's to be submitted here or anywhere else.

(But your mileage may vary, of course. There's a lot here, and some of it conflicts. It's not like the forum is constantly in universal agreement about what works well. There are a few things we know that tend to work well, in particular things that we know will disqualify a story entirely--but we also know that there are stories every year that seem to break many of what some folks think of as "rules", and still win anyway. Anyone who reads the books themselves will see that pretty quickly, and that, again, lends itself to the above idea--write the story you love to the best of your ability, and it's probably going to give you your best shot.)

However, just as with other markets, knowing which of the stories you've written may be a good choice to submit to the Contest is a professional skill that is well cultivated no matter the market you're submitting to. After all, market-specific advice is exactly that--market specific. Good advice for here may not be good advice for Clarkesworld; but good advice for Clarkesworld is probably a lousy fit for Beneath Ceaseless Skies, too.

I'd also argue that there is very little writing advice that is somehow magically only suited to one market, and that there's also no one universal magical style that is a fit for every market, either. I suspect that whether you find value in what you learn from the lessons provided by WotF, and also from the writing discussions here on these forums, depends hugely on whether or not you enjoy and want to write the kind of fiction that would, itself, be a fit for WotF to begin with. If it's not, then chances are this stuff just won't jive with you, or with the things you want to write.

DQ:0 / R:0 / RWC:0 / HM:11 / SHM:6 / SF:1 / F:1
Submitted for Q1.V40 and Q2.V40
Last four: SHM • SHM • SF • HM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 3:43 pm
Joni Labaqui, Ease, Cherrie and 3 people reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Topic starter
 
Posted by: @doctorjest

they'll consider the regular payment you receive for the story's publication in the WOTF volume towards your SFWA qualification earnings, if you choose to declare them as part of your application

Oh, that's very good to know if true, and makes good sense!

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 4:26 pm
DoctorJest reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Posted by: @doctorjest

there are stories every year that seem to break many of what some folks think of as "rules",

That's just what I'm observing, the sense that there are these Contest "rules" and that Contest-focused folks are zeroed in these. 
A casual reading of forum reveals weiters very concerned with, just for example, "getting the spec in" —to the point that you'll see constructions like "the traffic warden wasn't a robocop"
In the effort to comply with the "rule" of the contest, they possibly create weaker fiction.

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 4:39 pm
DoctorJest reacted
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Posts: 713
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Posted by: @angelslayah
Posted by: @doctorjest

there are stories every year that seem to break many of what some folks think of as "rules",

That's just what I'm observing, the sense that there are these Contest "rules" and that Contest-focused folks are zeroed in these. 
A casual reading of forum reveals weiters very concerned with, just for example, "getting the spec in" —to the point that you'll see constructions like "the traffic warden wasn't a robocop"
In the effort to comply with the "rule" of the contest, they possibly create weaker fiction.

I would definitely say this qualifies as a for this market kind of tuning, yes, as we know that openings that don't reveal some measure of speculative quality to the fiction will get culled with extreme prejudice (for reasons that have been explained before by the Contest's first reader, so there's no mystery around it). But I think it's better if this knowledge would prompt people to think more carefully about their openings.

There's a really fantastic section in Jeff VanderMeer's Wonderbook that talks about how he goes through a variety of openings for a novel he was working on--how he considered and discarded openings that were good, but which didn't deliver everything that he was aiming to establish in the beginning. How he approaches it is careful and studied, considering the character and tone he wants to establish, and the arc of how he wants the story to be (from the point that the character is alone at the beginning, which plays into the novel's entire arc).

But the temptation for someone would be to short-cut this, and say "make character X have LEDs sticking out of his ears" or something similar, to resolve this lack, when they should probably instead be considering how the opening could be changed or adjusted to make that spec element an organic part of it, rather than some more blunt and single-purpose reveal. The winning entries in WotF almost all do have their spec up front, but never just as window dressing to let you know it is spec.

DQ:0 / R:0 / RWC:0 / HM:11 / SHM:6 / SF:1 / F:1
Submitted for Q1.V40 and Q2.V40
Last four: SHM • SHM • SF • HM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 6:36 pm
Pegeen, Ease, Cherrie and 1 people reacted
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Posts: 1951
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If you don't get the spec in within the first two pages--preferably sooner--your story won't get read.

This isn't a guess, it isn't a concern, it's a statement of fact from the slush reader.

Might there be an exception? Sure. If your opening is so bloody riveting in character or description or tension that Kary can't help reading, you might get a little leeway. You are welcome to try.

But the reality of the Contest and all big markets is they have far too many submissions to spend time on those that don't fit. They have to use some sort of filters. Unlike most markets, the Contest at least explicitly tells you what most of their filters are.

The reasons for this particular filter are obvious. Every quarter they receive thousands of submissions. Among those are poems, autobiographies, screenplays, memoirs, essays, news reports, book reviews, novels, plagiarized novels (somebody honestly thought no one would recognize Call of the Wild), recipes, newspaper clippings, and Amtrak train tickets. But beyond these ridiculous examples are the people who either don't read the guidelines or think their writing is so brilliant that the judges will set the guidelines aside for their story. These are the people who submit mysteries, thrillers, westerns, romances, or contemporary fiction--all without a single speculative element.

Imagine such a story comes in. Imagine it's really good, brilliant even. And imagine that in the end, there's still no speculative element. Then that story cannot win. Period. This is a contest for speculative fiction. No spec, no prize. And the judges will be disappointed that you wasted your time--even as they wish you well in selling it elsewhere.

After decades of seeing stories that have no speculative element at all, the Contest has developed a simple filter: of the speculative element doesn't make an appearance early, it's a rejection. It saves them time, and time is always in short supply.

Does that mean you can't write a great story where the speculative element comes in at the end? Not at all! It just means that story will get rejected in this Contest. Send it somewhere else.

The Contest has told you their filters. Feel free to ignore them if that makes you feel better, but it won't help your odds.

http://nineandsixtyways.com/
Tools, Not Rules.
Martin L. Shoemaker
3rd Place Q1 V31
"Today I Am Paul", WSFA Small Press Award 2015, Nebula nomination 2015
Today I Am Carey from Baen
The Last Dance (#1 science fiction eBook on Amazon, October 2019) and The Last Campaign from 47North

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 6:38 pm
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Kary English
(@karyenglish)
Posts: 671
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Re: getting the spec in - Yes, there are wonderful stories that let the spec element blossom slowly. There are wonderful stories that slip it in at the very end.

 

"For this particular market, however," she said with her first reader hat on, "it should be present, or at least hinted at, up front or you risk rejection."

 

Slightly related, don't undermine your spec element once you've established it. We had a seriously beautiful story about *anonymizing the details* a large land animal who appeared to people in their most vulnerable moments to help them through. We cried for half the darn story. We read it thinking we might be holding the Gold winner in our hands. We could see it being a movie and winning Oscars.

Then, at the very end, the mythical, mystical beast was revealed to be... entirely mundane and real world. Not spec at all. It was a mainstream story.

We agonized. We said bad words and pulled our hair over it. I'm not sure what happened to it. I remember hoping it might get semi so we could at least tell the writer how good it was, and why we couldn't make it a finalist.

We're a speculative fiction contest. To quote a gravelly-voiced cashier at Trader Joe's who was telling a customer how to use the new debit cards with chips:

STICK IT IN, LEAVE IT IN, AND DON'T TAKE IT OUT!

WOTF: 1 HM, 1 Semi, 2 Finalists, 1 Winner
Q2,V31 - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Hugo and Astounding finalist, made the preliminary Stoker ballot (juried)
Published by Galaxy's Edge, DSF, StarShipSofa and TorNightfire

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 6:46 pm
Pegeen, Joni Labaqui, David Hankins and 3 people reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Posted by: @martin-l-shoemaker

The Contest has told you their filters. Feel free to ignore them if that makes you feel better, but it won't help your odds.

I appreciate what you're saying here, but you seem to be making the connection rather for me.

in expressing a doubt whether the practice of writing to the Contest may ultimately weaken a story (and over time, a writer) to elicit a response which seems hold the conditions of the Contest over that concern....

 

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 7:56 pm
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Topic starter
 
Posted by: @karyenglish

STICK IT IN, LEAVE IT IN, AND DON'T TAKE IT OUT!

Hahahaha! Love it. I don't want to make this a conversation about speck and 'where to stick it" that was just my example. But IN my example (the traffic warden wasn't a robocop) I mean to show what I consider bad writing (showing what wasn't there is hardly better than telling, surely) generated by the, as more respondents than yourself recognize, absolute demand of the Contest. 

Would my hypothetical speculative story be better if some actual, well done spec appeared at this point? Would it be better if that waited till page three? I don't know. But just 'sticking it in' would hardly seem the best method, and it's one I feel I see peers promoting for Contest purposes.

(Lightly edited for typos)

 

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:05 pm
Pegeen reacted
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Posts: 1951
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Posted by: @angelslayah

I appreciate what you're saying here, but you seem to be making the connection rather for me.

in expressing a doubt whether the practice of writing to the Contest may ultimately weaken a story (and over time, a writer) to elicit a response which seems hold the conditions of the Contest over that concern.... 

A significant number of Contest winners go on to have publishing careers. (One estimate is 1 in 3.) I don't know of another market which is so successful at identifying potential from the slush pile.

The suggestion that writing to the Contest--which is judged by bestselling professionals who understand how to make a living in the market--somehow weakens a writer is an assertion without evidence. "Weakens" is a subjective judgment.

But if you think the Contest is detrimental to your writing success, you're not required to submit.

http://nineandsixtyways.com/
Tools, Not Rules.
Martin L. Shoemaker
3rd Place Q1 V31
"Today I Am Paul", WSFA Small Press Award 2015, Nebula nomination 2015
Today I Am Carey from Baen
The Last Dance (#1 science fiction eBook on Amazon, October 2019) and The Last Campaign from 47North

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:07 pm
Pegeen, Morgan, David Hankins and 1 people reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Posted by: @martin-l-shoemaker

But if you think the Contest is detrimental to your writing success, you're not required to submit

I do feel like my doubts on this matter have rankled. It was not my intention.

I'd really love to know any stats on the careers of post winning writers. Do we have any figure that don't begin 'one estimate is?'

I only learned of the Contest when I interviewed an early winner Robert Reed for my old radio show. If 1 in 3 went on to have his career, why, they'd have to mint more Hugo's!

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:18 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Posts: 713
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Posted by: @angelslayah

Would my hypothetical speculative story be better if some actual, well done spec appeared at this point? Would it be better if that waited till page three? I don't know. But just 'sticking it in' would hardly seem the best method, and it's one I feel I see peers promoting for Contest purposes.

(Lightly edited for typos) 

I think, though, it's worth bearing in mind that writers come to this Contest at different stages of skill and career. Some of the lessons--get your spec in up front--seem a bit blunt, if you take away from them that all spec fiction wherever you submit it must have its spec up front or else.

But the generalized real lesson is, know what your market is looking for, and try to ensure you give it to them.

Perhaps that begins, for newer writers, with simply learning what this market is looking for, and learning to write what this market wants--and at first, that could potentially seem like it weakens a writer (*arguable, but I understand the concern). But I think, if you are still starting out, that's better that just writing whatever you like and not realizing that your opening might be stopping a slush-reader from ever seeing the rest of your story. So as a professional skill, I think this one really translates well, at least once you carry it a little further.  

DQ:0 / R:0 / RWC:0 / HM:11 / SHM:6 / SF:1 / F:1
Submitted for Q1.V40 and Q2.V40
Last four: SHM • SHM • SF • HM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:19 pm
Pegeen, Ease, David Hankins and 1 people reacted
Kary English
(@karyenglish)
Posts: 671
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Another thought - the contest isn't the only apprenticeship out there. And just because someone participates in the contest doesn't mean they can't pursue other paths.

For anyone who's interested, think of a magazine you love, a venue you'd give your eye teeth to sell to, one you look forward to reading whenever it comes out. Ask if they need slushers. Ask if you can be one.

Most slushers aren't paid, so you'd need to do it for love and learning rather than for money.

WOTF: 1 HM, 1 Semi, 2 Finalists, 1 Winner
Q2,V31 - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Hugo and Astounding finalist, made the preliminary Stoker ballot (juried)
Published by Galaxy's Edge, DSF, StarShipSofa and TorNightfire

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:42 pm
Pegeen, David Hankins, storysinger and 3 people reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
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Posted by: @doctorjest

But the generalized real lesson is, know what your market is looking for, and try to ensure you give it to them.

I love this point, and the Contest does indeed bring in people of widely ranging skills. What it doesn't is bring in writers of widely ranging experience. 

And while I'm grateful to be told, bluntly, 'this is what we need' from the Contest, it's may be going into new-ish writers minds that this is how it's done. 

I have definitely seen forum...ites? advise others seeking help in pitching to other publications to 'start with a character in a clear conflict and get the spec in early' where, as you point out, that market may have other criteria. 

My proximal goal, and I'm on my way, is SFWA, and I'm interested in talking to others about how to get there. That merely includes but isn't centered in ways of thinking beyond the Contest.

I may have picked a bad example! 

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:43 pm
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angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Posted by: @karyenglish

the contest isn't the only apprenticeship out there.

That's great, and exactly what I mean. 

To be real it's the fantastic and very real prizes of the Contest that may be responsible what looks a bit like a blinding focus on its remarkably clear criteria.Those concerned with career and think the Contest is neato will, I hope, seek your wider 'apprenticeships'

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:50 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Posts: 713
Platinum Member
 
Posted by: @karyenglish

For anyone who's interested, think of a magazine you love, a venue you'd give your eye teeth to sell to, one you look forward to reading whenever it comes out. Ask if they need slushers. Ask if you can be one.

Most slushers aren't paid, so you'd need to do it for love and learning rather than for money.

I keep thinking I should do this, not least because I'm convinced I'd learn a bunch. But I keep talking myself out of it, usually on the basis that I think I'd be bad at it. But I should probably just bite the bullet with one of them, sooner than later.

DQ:0 / R:0 / RWC:0 / HM:11 / SHM:6 / SF:1 / F:1
Submitted for Q1.V40 and Q2.V40
Last four: SHM • SHM • SF • HM
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 8:54 pm
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Kary English
(@karyenglish)
Posts: 671
Gold Star Member Moderator
 

As for writing to a market, any market, I think it's a valuable skill, one that strengthens the writer overall. Not every story is a WOTF story. Not every story should be a WOTF story.

It's a little like the art world, IMHO. If you want to paint only what you want to paint, and only exactly how you want to paint it, then you're a fine artist. You'll need to develop your brand, your look, until it sells *because* it's your look. And even then, you might be stuck with that look because that's what sells. There's nothing at all wrong with that.

On the flip side, illustration and commercial art aren't dirty words. But they mean being able to nail a certain style, being able to capture narrative elements, meet deadlines, etc.

You (generic you) can absolutely write like a fine artist, write exactly what you want, exactly how you want and you can do it simply for the love of the art. It's a valid and meaningful path, and one I'd never discourage.

Writing to market is a different skill, and I don't think it's any less of an art. So many of things we revere as pure art are actually commissions and illustrations. The Mona Lisa? A commission. The Sistine Chapel? A commission and an illustration. Commission means that the artist was hired to do a job, to create art, yes, but in a certain way, within a certain set of parameters. They were creating art to market.

The contest is a market, no more, no less. Tor is a market. Baen is a market. The New Yorker and The Kenyon Review are markets. There are lots of others out there, including the wide world of indie if writing to market isn't what someone wants.

There are lots of ways forward, and tools, not rules.

WOTF: 1 HM, 1 Semi, 2 Finalists, 1 Winner
Q2,V31 - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Hugo and Astounding finalist, made the preliminary Stoker ballot (juried)
Published by Galaxy's Edge, DSF, StarShipSofa and TorNightfire

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 9:01 pm
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angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
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Posted by: @doctorjest

But I keep talking myself out of it, usually on the basis that I think I'd be bad at it.

Meanwhile, I think I'd be GREAT at it. What keeps me from volunteering as a slush reader is: I steal so many ideas! I'm watching some Star Trek where they're back in time (again) and I think sheesh, they're in this predicament so often they really need a protocol! 

I don't mind using crap TV and old B movies as my springboards but I don't think it would be right to take rejected (because,bad) stories and have "now what she SHOULD have done" end up as my next tale!

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 9:09 pm
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
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Topic starter
 
Posted by: @karyenglish

The contest is a market, no more, no less. Tor is a market. Baen is a market. The New Yorker and The Kenyon Review are markets.

Well said! In creating this topic, I'm seeking those focused on this larger picture.

 

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 9:16 pm
Kary English
(@karyenglish)
Posts: 671
Gold Star Member Moderator
 
Posted by: @angelslayah

<snip> it's may be going into new-ish writers minds that this is how it's done. 

 

I think this is an important point. There's a certain thrust on this board to say that WOTF stories have to be a certain way, whether it's POV or try-fail cycles, etc., and I, too, worry about any one view becoming too dominant. That's why some of us keep hammering nine and sixty ways, and tools, not rules.

Yes, for new writers, writing to a formula can help them develop their skills, and sometimes the advice for winning WOTF can come across like a formula. I also worry that winning WOTF can become the be all, end all for some to the point where they won't know what to do with themselves afterwards (maybe they'd make a good Dread Pirate Roberts?). So again, we hammer nine and sixty ways, tools not rules, and the contest is (just) a market.

Me, personally, I think writers should try lots of different things, different styles, different voices, different lengths, different genres, etc. To my mind, that's how they'll discover their own voice, their own style, what they like and don't like to write, etc. Maybe they even discover that they *don't* like to write, or that they prefer to write only for themselves. It's all valid, and just because someone's story is published doesn't mean the story has more or less intrinsic value than one that isn't published. They're ALL art.

I want people to discover their art!

It's true that doing certain things like getting the spec in early will heighten a writer's chance of winning this contest, but I don't want people to focus just on this contest. I want people to discover and develop their art, and that means trying new things and ranging farther afield.

I have to hand it to Moon, here. He's got a track record of helping writers hone their skills and target what the contest likes to see. Things were a little different, more decentralized, back when Martin and I were coming up. Finalists were more active, so there were more voices talking about what worked for them, what to try, etc., and since they'd all won with different stories, their advice didn't have a strong center line. It wasn't one person teaching the rest. It was all of us figuring things out together. Stumbling at times, I'm sure, but the advice was more diffuse. The forum still had lots of winners, so both ways work.

So if you see some of us saying one thing and others saying another, nobody has to be wrong. It's all about what works for each individual writer.

WOTF: 1 HM, 1 Semi, 2 Finalists, 1 Winner
Q2,V31 - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Hugo and Astounding finalist, made the preliminary Stoker ballot (juried)
Published by Galaxy's Edge, DSF, StarShipSofa and TorNightfire

 
Posted : September 30, 2022 9:29 pm
Ease, Cherrie, ajschultz6 and 2 people reacted
crlisle
(@crlisle)
Posts: 353
Silver Star Member
 
Posted by: @karyenglish

Me, personally, I think writers should try lots of different things, different styles, different voices, different lengths, different genres, etc. To my mind, that's how they'll discover their own voice, their own style, what they like and don't like to write, etc.

Spot on Kary!

2019 Quarters: 3rd -- R, 4th -- R
2020 Quarters: 1st -- R, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- SHM
2021 Quarters: 1st -- HM, 2nd -- HM, 3rd -- HM, 4th -- HM
2022 Quarters: 1st -- SHM, 2nd -- RWC, 3rd -- RWC, 4th -- HM
2023 Quarters: 1st -- pending
Published in: Martian Magazine, Galaxy's Edge magazine, Daily Science Fiction, LTUE Anthology Parliament of Wizards, Sci Fi Lampoon
Critters Award for Best Positive Short Story "Follow the Pretrons"

 
Posted : October 1, 2022 7:33 am
Ease, Cherrie, angelslayah and 1 people reacted
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Posts: 299
Gold Member
 

What a lively discussion. My two cents is yes... WOTF IS a market, but learning to craft stories to fit the WOTF market has made me a better writer. I have no regrets whatsoever spending time writing stories for the WOTF market. I also feel that my voice is starting to shine through my writings now that I've had more practice at not only starting short stories, but FINISHING them where there's a resolution and validation after the main climax. I've also learned to make sure my speculative element comes right away and is important to the story I'm telling. AND I've begun to follow Heinlein's rules more which means I'm also submitting stories to pro markets (and collecting rejections, but that's the way of a writer's life).

WOTF results:
Before Moon's Vol 39 challenge, 6 R's: Vol 31 Q3, Vol 33 Q3, Vol 35, Q4, Vol 37 Q3 and Q4, and Vol 38 Q3.
Vol 39: Q1 RWC, Q2 HM, Q3 HM, Q4 HM
Vol 40: Q1 P
IOTF results:
Vol 39: Q1 HM, Q2 R, Q3 HM, Q4 HM
Vol 40: Q1 P
According to Winston Churchill, "success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm"
Somehow I lost my Guthington profile, but it's me. Amy Wethington = Guthington = Physa

 
Posted : October 1, 2022 7:54 am
V. R. Lassmann
(@vrlass)
Posts: 56
Bronze Star Member
 

‘Learn the Rules Like a Pro, So You Can Break Them Like an Artist.’

Pablo Picasso

One cool thing about Picasso. For the vast majority of my life I thought he was a brilliant conmen who was able to convince people that the crap he was creating was a sign of genius. And some time ago I realized how brilliant painter he was in his early years, and how gradually he went to reach higher and higher levels of art. 

Here is a question:

Did he become Picasso in evolutionary process of mastering his craft, or was he Picasso the genius all the time and he just needed to prove to be a grand painter, so that audience would go in-depth towards his “harder” pieces? 

I think the question is more important than the answer.

I might be newbie writer, and foreign to the industry but one thing seems clear for me is that this contest and the workshop are great for learning the most important thing for novice writer and that is: ‘before you become a Picasso - there is a slush ahead.’

Some time ago writers were competing with each other. Right now we need to compete with patio streamers who are just entertaining.

As an author i want to talk to YA, bring them to beautiful places of illumination and growth. But what good would a text of highest wisdom do if it was simply too hard to read, and reader dropped after first scene, to watch stupid people?

I think the contest, the workshop and the story-building formulas are invaluable for the same thing:
To start. To be a foundation to built upon. 

How do we Picasso from there, is up to us.

Peace,
VR

 
Posted : October 1, 2022 9:00 am
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Posts: 1293
Platinum Member
 

So my entry from yesterday will be an R. shrug I could have injected a little telepathy just to have spec in it. I didn't, I stayed true to the story as it flowed forth. 

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM x5
Published Poetry
2012 Stars in Our Hearts
Silver Ships

 
Posted : October 1, 2022 9:54 am
angelslayah reacted
Cherrie
(@clfors)
Posts: 191
Silver Member
 

Great discussion going on here. 

My personal thinking on making sure a writer doesn’t let a single-minded focus on one market stunt their art or their opportunities is to branch out. I’ve seen a lot of previous winners and professional writers say it’s important to spread your efforts and not box yourself in to one market.

So things like entering more than one contest, and submitting to multiple professional markets will open up your opportunities but if you do it right and research each market by reading what they publish it will also hone your skills and make it easier to win any one of those contests and get published in any market you choose to write for.

At least that’s what I’m finding since I’ve started branching out. I like how Kary called WOTF an apprenticeship. I’ve learned a lot from WOTF trainings, the forums, David Farland’s advice, the podcasts, etc. It’s a great apprenticeship. And now I’m learning even more on top of that by apprenticing myself to professional publishing markets by reading their guidelines, advice, published stories, and then putting in the practice writing in these other styles.

So I guess what I’m saying is writing exclusively to any one market in my opinion limits growth at some point, branching out encourages growth as a writer and will serve longer-term goals including winning WOTF and other contests, getting into SFWA, and building a solid long-term career.

Kary pretty much said all of this so I’m chiming in from my own writing progress so far to say I’m seeing it work in practice!

3x Finalist Illustrators
5x Semi finalist Illustrators
1x HM Illustrators
7x HM Writers
1x SHM Writers V39 Q3
https://clforsauthor.com
Author of the Primogenitor series: Progeny, Adaptation, Reunion Available on Amazon under CL Fors

 
Posted : October 2, 2022 1:04 pm
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
Silver Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @clfors

Great discussion going on here. 

It IS a pretty great discussion!

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : October 2, 2022 3:32 pm
Cherrie and storysinger reacted
angelslayah
(@angelslayah)
Posts: 176
Silver Member
Topic starter
 

There seem to be a lot of people interested in discussing ways to grow as writers! 
One thing I've learned is to face rejection. This is not, like, natively easy for me and I tend to get hopes up, picture positive outcomes. Rejection crashes my fantasies! I knew I needed to turn my thinking around somehow or I'd lose enthusiasm. 

The Contest can be a steady source of rejection, tho I sense a lot of people on the forums have had the experience of an HM or Finalist (or, now RWC, or the Silver Shivers) but that's like a metronome, tic-rejection-tok. 

I needed to face the hail of rejection, the storm.

Last year I read, oh, about August, and off forum, a writer shooting for 100 rejections in the calendar year. 

Of course that was the inverse of what I'd been after: Publications! But I instantly realized the direct relationship: if my writing was publishable at all more rejections meant more chances to see it in "print." The thing is, when I went to my Dashboard on the unfortunately named "submission grinder" I found I'd already reached that number, half way through the year!

I set my sights on two hundred rejections in 2021 and, thanks in some very small part to the Contest, I was able to bring that in, under the wire! 
I should maybe add I sold 6 stories. Not a lot, but my first two professional-rates sales were in that bunch!

This set me on a whole new way of thinking... and not just about rejection. It made me think about where I was in my career, about the kinds of stories I wanted to write and about how to climb the ladder of my goals.

@DonMarkmaker

 
Posted : October 2, 2022 3:57 pm
Ease, Cherrie and storysinger reacted
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