I have a few stories that I have purposefully not submitted anywhere while I try and decide what to send where.
1) Sci-fi story (4K) 2) Comedy story -fantasy (2K) 3) Sci-fi story --comedy (4k) 4) Sci-fi story (6k)
All things being equal (the 2k comedy story seems to go down best, so far) which story should I send? Now I realise that you haven't read these stories, but my question really is, what sort of stories win WotF, or do well consistently.
You should send in whichever one you think is best. Trying to second guess a contest like this just won't work, I can promise you. I've read enough WOTF to know: there is no common denominator, other than maybe cleanly-written fiction of a more commercial than literary bent.
But if you honestly favor them all equally, send in the sci-fi 4k one. It's not too far off an average length for stories in WOTF, and they don't seem to take a lot of humor....
I conclude from reading as many of the WOTF winners, places, shows, honorable mentions, and also rans and judges' stories that I can access that there are two factors in play for the contest.
First, objective criteria: a mechanically sound story. The criteria for mechanical soundness is probably mostly universal. A strong beginning, middle, and ending, unity in all aspects, potent, proportionately escalating reader immersion, good magnitude, outcome remaining in doubt until the ending, and a completed reversal of fortune. Ms. Wentworth has also frequently said that originality is her number one criteria. What's original, per se, is not universal, though.
Second, subjective criteria: tastes, sentiments, fashions, selecting for target audience and such. For me, getting a handle on the subjective (and objective) criteria of the judges, especially contest coordinating judge Ms. Wentworth, meant reading and analyzing their work, and the work of predecessor WOTF judges and mentors and author inspirations. Baen's Free Library has three of Ms. Wentworth's novels, two in the Black on Black series and one a collaboration with Eric Flint.
I've not located any of Dave Wolverton's fiction online.
I sense that Ms. Wentworth's recent work has more subtext than her earlier work. She has stated that one of the main target audiences is high school writing classes. Therefore, my conclusion is that the most common determinant is young adult audiences, not necessarily coming of age stories, but many of the contest anthologies' stories that I've read have discernable features of coming of age stories.
[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited May 20, 2009).]
I haven't read them all mind you (in fact I haven't read a WOTF anthology in awhile) but everyone one I remember had a single POV, except one. Funny thing is it was my favorite story in the anthology and would be in my top five of favorite short stories ever.
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