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Do the judges have a preferred style?

 
LibrarianBarbarian
(@librarianbarbarian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39

I'm curious about the style of writing that is preferred by the judges. I know it's extremely hard to get into the major magazines unless you are writing a very modern, cutting edge brand of SF, very literary, somewhat obscure, and often message-oriented.

Is it worth submitting a more traditional style of adventure-based story? I'm not talking about writing up an account of one of my D&D adventures, just something a little less elevated than what you normally see in the big mags.

Also, the delineation between SF and F seems to be pretty sharp these days. You don't see as much of what used to be known as Science Fantasy anymore. Do you think submitting a Science Fantasy story would be an obstacle to success?

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Topic starter Posted : February 24, 2020 2:44 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

My general recommendation is: Write what you love.

My more specific recommendation is: Write what you love, first and foremost, but checking out the last few anthologies to get an idea of the sorts of things the judges have accepted in the past is probably not a bad idea. Some judges have a hard preference for sci-fi over fantasy, but not all, and David Farland (the coordinating judge) definitely enjoys a good fantasy tale. I would think science fantasy would work just fine, as long as the story is told well.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : February 24, 2020 3:01 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2277

I'm curious about the style of writing that is preferred by the judges. I know it's extremely hard to get into the major magazines unless you are writing a very modern, cutting edge brand of SF, very literary, somewhat obscure, and often message-oriented.

Is it worth submitting a more traditional style of adventure-based story? I'm not talking about writing up an account of one of my D&D adventures, just something a little less elevated than what you normally see in the big mags.

Also, the delineation between SF and F seems to be pretty sharp these days. You don't see as much of what used to be known as Science Fantasy anymore. Do you think submitting a Science Fantasy story would be an obstacle to success?

Writers of the Future is its own market, with its own peculiar needs. It's not a high brow publication--I believe they search for skillfully told stories with original ideas and broad audience appeal, which includes the YA market. David Farland selects all the finalists the winners are picked from, and he's often on the quarterly judges panel as well that chooses the three winners from the eight finalists. So knowing what he likes is very important. Fortunately, it's not a mystery. At the start of every volume, he tells you in the intro what he's looking for. And then you have the stories he chose for the anthology, which reflect on the tastes of the quarterly judges as well. Read the current anthologies, like Volume 35, and get a jump on Volume 36 by preordering. Times change, needs change, and reading the latest is the only way to get as close to real time information as possible. You also have David Farland's daily tips, and he often writes about what he just read or what he is currently seeking. Signing up for his newsletter at MyStoryDoctor.com is a shrewd move.

As for spec fic genres and mashups, if you write something original, and you write it professionally, you have a chance. The certificates issued after each quarter will tell you how well you are doing. Start getting those, and you will know you did something right. Keep entering. Every quarter. Don't think one story will do it. It's an extremely rare event when that happens (Terry Madden in the recent WotF podcasts was one, but there were reasons it happened, as she explains).

Keep writing. Keep submitting. I've also given members many tips to help in my Super Secrets' thread.

Fortune favor the brave.

Wulf Moon

JOIN THE WULF PACK! http://the super secrets.com
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Posted : February 24, 2020 4:50 pm
HermioneLee
(@hermionelee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 163

My general recommendation is: Write what you love.

My more specific recommendation is: Write what you love, first and foremost, but checking out the last few anthologies to get an idea of the sorts of things the judges have accepted in the past is probably not a bad idea. Some judges have a hard preference for sci-fi over fantasy, but not all, and David Farland (the coordinating judge) definitely enjoys a good fantasy tale. I would think science fantasy would work just fine, as long as the story is told well.

I love what you said, "write what you love" wotf010
Are you sure that some judges have a HARD preference for SCI-FI? Oh no!!! My submission did not have even the slightest mention of science...oh no...... wotf018

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Posted : February 28, 2020 11:23 pm
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

My general recommendation is: Write what you love.

My more specific recommendation is: Write what you love, first and foremost, but checking out the last few anthologies to get an idea of the sorts of things the judges have accepted in the past is probably not a bad idea. Some judges have a hard preference for sci-fi over fantasy, but not all, and David Farland (the coordinating judge) definitely enjoys a good fantasy tale. I would think science fantasy would work just fine, as long as the story is told well.

I love what you said, "write what you love" wotf010
Are you sure that some judges have a HARD preference for SCI-FI? Oh no!!! My submission did not have even the slightest mention of science...oh no...... wotf018

Try not to worry! There are plenty of winners without a single mention of magic, and plenty without a single mention of science. And while all the judges have their own preferences, they do, of course, try to be objective when Dave Farland hands them the eight finalists each quarter. Smile I would reinforce what peony says: write what you love, write it well, and the judges will know.

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : February 29, 2020 1:19 am
chuckt
(@chuckt)
Silver Member
Posts: 419

I would say lat year's winner was neither. Thanatos Drvie. It used an "AI run amuck" as the backdrop but there really was no "scientific" basis for that. It was a post-apocalypse tale. An exceptionally good one.

36: R, R, R, SHM
37: R, HM, R, HM
38: HM, R, ?

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Posted : February 29, 2020 1:31 am
HermioneLee
(@hermionelee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 163

My general recommendation is: Write what you love.

My more specific recommendation is: Write what you love, first and foremost, but checking out the last few anthologies to get an idea of the sorts of things the judges have accepted in the past is probably not a bad idea. Some judges have a hard preference for sci-fi over fantasy, but not all, and David Farland (the coordinating judge) definitely enjoys a good fantasy tale. I would think science fantasy would work just fine, as long as the story is told well.

I love what you said, "write what you love" wotf010
Are you sure that some judges have a HARD preference for SCI-FI? Oh no!!! My submission did not have even the slightest mention of science...oh no...... wotf018

Try not to worry! There are plenty of winners without a single mention of magic, and plenty without a single mention of science. And while all the judges have their own preferences, they do, of course, try to be objective when Dave Farland hands them the eight finalists each quarter. Smile I would reinforce what peony says: write what you love, write it well, and the judges will know.

Thank you very much, Leah! Congratulations on your win!

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Posted : February 29, 2020 10:44 am
SwiftPotato
(@swiftpotato)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 555

Thank you, Hermione! Smile Hope to see you on the stage someday!

R, 3rd place Q4 v36!!!
Stories in Apocalyptic, Cossmass Infinities, and Podcastle

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Posted : February 29, 2020 12:40 pm
HermioneLee
(@hermionelee)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 163

Thank you, Hermione! Smile Hope to see you on the stage someday!

I hope that day will come soon)
I'm excited to read your entry wotf007

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Posted : February 29, 2020 12:59 pm
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Member
Posts: 997

I've heard it said many times that this contest values originality the most. There are plenty of stories that fit no genre. Living Rooms is a great example. Maddy Dune is another. Is it fantasy because of spell casting? But it's in this world...
The key is that it's speculative.

Original
Speculative

After that I'd say focus on your writing skill, and get to know the first judge(s).
https://www.writersofthefuture.com/writ ... -the-odds/

2x Finalist
2x Semi
6x Silver
9x HM
1 of 6 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : February 29, 2020 10:01 pm
LibrarianBarbarian
(@librarianbarbarian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39

After that I'd say focus on your writing skill, and get to know the first judge(s).
https://www.writersofthefuture.com/writ ... -the-odds/

That link was very informative, Dustin! Thank you!

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Topic starter Posted : March 1, 2020 3:20 am
AndyDibble
(@andydibble)
Bronze Member
Posts: 86

I'll add to what Dustin said:

I've heard it said many times that this contest values originality the most.

Dave also said in the intro to one or more of the anthologies that he wants stories of general human interest. If your story is only original because of how it deals with an esoteric topic, and you don't make that topic of wider interest, it's probably not good for WotF. I write quite a few stories about theological and philosophical problems; they're original but many are only really of interest to people that like certain topics. This was why I only ever submitted two distinct stories to WotF.

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Posted : March 7, 2020 6:13 am
Chezwise
(@chezwise)
Active Member
Posts: 7

I wish I had read this before submission, oh well better late than never. It was such a great exercise all the way around, that I am happy to have gotten all the way to submission. Pretty proud of anyone that actually pushes the send button. For some of us it is a big deal, just to submit.

"Dustin Adams wrote:
After that I'd say focus on your writing skill, and get to know the first judge(s).
https://www.writersofthefuture.com/writ%20...%20-the-odds/"

The article said, or I am misreading that Dave is the only judge that whittles the entries from i.e. 1500, to eight?

Just learning. Simply asking a questions, but it does tend to say, learn what Dave considers good, and check your stuff. Same with any thing, your looking to please a particular market.

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Posted : October 1, 2020 5:47 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Gold Member
Posts: 997

Chez, (Did I just get Chezzed?)

Dave was the first reader (as opposed to the judges who only read the top 8) for many years until the volume of submissions required a pre-first reader. Kary English (1st place 2nd Q V. 31) was brought on board a few years back to minimize the stories that reach Dave's desk. I'm not sure if she ever reads any to the end (something I've been meaning to ask her), but I don't get that impression. She looks at them all and can reject stories that are in Comic Sans (kidding! or am I?) and recipes and splatter gore, and I'm not sure why splatter gore came to mind, and stories with the author's name and address on them...

So that leaves Dave with no doubt a few hundred (I think Q2 had around 200 HM and above). So he's still got his work cut out for him, and as he's said, the quantity of quality stories has gone up, so his choosing only 8 has gotten much more difficult.

I for one fully intend to make that part of his job as difficult as possible, as often as I can. Smile

2x Finalist
2x Semi
6x Silver
9x HM
1 of 6 SilverHM. 1 of 3 DSF: Short Stories. My Finalist #1 Finalist #2 coming soon in 4th & Starlight

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Posted : October 1, 2020 6:17 am
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