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Is alcohol and kissing allowed?

 
crlisle
(@crlisle)
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I was listening to the most recent Q&A with David Farland. He said that the WoTF anthology will be studied in middle school and that any silver Honorable Mention with adult situations will go no further.  So I am wondering does this mean no alcohol and no kissing?

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Topic starter Posted : July 18, 2021 9:06 am
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fox
 fox
(@foxed)
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Huh, good question… it would kind of be a bummer if PG-13 themes precluded you from winning the contest without that being explicitly stated in the rules. Trying to target a middle-school audience would drastically change my style, lol. So that said, I have no idea but good question, hopefully someone with more knowledge on these hidden nuances can chime in. 

Also, "adult situations" is sort of vague. I know egregious violence isn't allowed but violence in general could qualify as an "adult situation", no? Idk!

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Posted : July 18, 2021 9:34 am
pdblake
(@pdblake)
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At the school I went to they were part of the curriculum.

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Posted : July 18, 2021 9:45 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
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Kissing is allowed--it happens in YA books all the time, trust me. One of the recent volumes (although I don't remember which off the top of my head) had a story that heavily hinted at orgasms taking place, although I don't think it was ever explicitly stated.

I don't have as easy of an answer for the alcohol question, but it might be okay depending on the circumstances.

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Posted : July 18, 2021 10:09 am
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Wulf Moon
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Posted by: @crlisle

I was listening to the most recent Q&A with David Farland. He said that the WoTF anthology will be studied in middle school and that any silver Honorable Mention with adult situations will go no further.  So I am wondering does this mean no alcohol and no kissing?

It’s a good question, Candice, and I do believe I know why you’re asking it. The level you have in that story does not exceed PG-13. You should be fine.

I now speak to all. PG-13 is a very loose guideline, and in the case of this contest, rests solely in the mind of David Farland/Wolverton at the finalist level. If he’s telling you what he considers unacceptable, you would be wise to listen. What you believe is PG-13 and acceptable for MG and YA audiences  is likely to be different than what Dave believes. This is one of those unwritten rules I’ve talked about before. Every judge and editor has a feel for their readership and what they want to serve them to keep their audience happy. Rarely do you have any access to their thinking beyond generic guidelines. Be thankful the contest has given you so many opportunities to know how their coordinating judge thinks. The wise will recognize that if you write explicit scenes featuring sex, drugs, and alcohol, you will not go far in this contest. And yes, there was a story that made it in about alien porn, but the porn for them was sharing pictures of a human woman’s eyes. See? Carefully couched, unique idea and well-written, so the writer got away with it.

In one of my semifinalists, I wrote a story about a Spanish ship captain and a mermaid. You get a critique at that level. Dave said the level of world building alone was likely better than all the other finalists put together. But he said I had too much “breast imagery” and needed to tone it down. Sorry, she wasn’t a Little Memaid in a shell bra, she was a bare-breasted merwoman with strong desires on this captain, and I described her accordingly. It was too much for Dave, and for his belief in what the anthology should be publishing. He’s the editor of the anthology, and he’s also the gatekeeper of this contest. It’s wise to remember that as you compose your submissions.

I did tone that story down a bit, and sent it to Deep Magic. Their guidelines did state PG, and I thought I had met them. Nope. The editor said if I could tone the mermaid bare-breasted scene down, they’d buy the story, and said this would be the most literary story Deep Magic had ever published. He did mention their readers and what they expected to see in DM’s pages. Did I argue with the editor that sirens have breasts and I was within my rights and style to describe them? Nope. Jeff Wheeler knew his readership, and what PG meant for Deep Magic. I said yes sir, and what color would you like those shells to be in her bra? 😆 Toning it down didn’t significantly change the story, and “Weep No More for the Willow” was published in Deep Magic, Fall 2019.

In WotF, you don’t get the chance to rewrite to editorial request. It’s a contest, that would be unfair. Since you have been given the privilege by this contest to know what the gatekeeper judge accepts for publication, you can either ignore it and say this is what I write and nobody’s going to tell me otherwise, or you can write to market.

Which mindset do you think is going to improve your chances?

Wulf Moon

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Posted : July 18, 2021 11:14 am
fox, crlisle, David Hankins and 1 people liked
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
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Great answers, Wulf and Liz.

In addition, I would encourage anyone who wants to succeed in this contest to read the previous volumes. There's been dark stories (Are You the Life of the Party? by Mica Scotti Kole comes to mind) and stories with substance use (usually alcohol, usually light and/or not the POV character) and even sex (A Bitter Thing by N. R. M. Roshak which Wulf mentioned). The point is, reading the anthologies will give you an idea of what is acceptable and what isn't--to Dave Farland, like Wulf said, which is what matters here. The rules say "Excessive violence or sex, determined by the judges, will result in disqualification." (Emphasis mine). Excessive, to my mind when I'm writing for the contest, means graphic. There's lots of violence in WotF stories, but it's not visceral or graphic descriptions, there's a lighter touch. Err on the side of caution here, I think, but don't cringe away from it. Smile

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Posted : July 18, 2021 11:40 am
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storysinger
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If you want an example of how to present sex that is acceptable for young readers, get your hands on v31 and read Sharon Joss's Golden Pen award winning story, Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light.

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Posted : July 19, 2021 8:13 am
scribblesatdusk
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Posted by: @storysinger

If you want an example of how to present sex that is acceptable for young readers, get your hands on v31 and read Sharon Joss's Golden Pen award winning story, Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light.

First story I thought of when I saw this thread. I was surprised when I read it because so many WotF stories don't explore intimacy with as much detail. 

The detail in this part for instance. It's scientific and sounds rather clinical but still very detailed. I can almost hear the 12 year olds giggling as they read some of the words. 

“Your eggs are about to erupt through the top layer of skin on your abdomen. When I release my sperm onto your belly, the skin will dissolve, and your eggs will be fertilized. They will harden quickly.” 

V36:Q3 HM
V37: Q3 R, Q4 SHM
V38: R,HM, ?

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Posted : July 19, 2021 9:48 am
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AlexH
(@alexh)
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Posts: 254

I've only realised in reading this thread that my two favourite WotF stories feature sex and drugs. The aforementioned Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light for sex. And from the same volume, Switch by Steve Pantazis features drug addiction. Educational Tapes by Katie Livingston described some rather grim violence unless that was via my imagination.

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Posted : July 24, 2021 4:45 am
pdblake
(@pdblake)
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Posted by: @alexh
 Educational Tapes by Katie Livingston described some rather grim violence unless that was via my imagination.

It's not your imagination. I've never looked at toothbrushes in the same way since reading that one.

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Posted : July 24, 2021 6:37 am
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