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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » WOTF Advice from KD Wentworth (Page 1)

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Author Topic: WOTF Advice from KD Wentworth
Dark Warrior
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WOTF advice and insight

As many WOTF entrants know, KD Wentworth (KDW) serves as the First Reader and Coordinating Judge for the Writers of the Future Contest as well as the editor of the anthology. Over the years she has been a frequent poster on the sff.net forums and the WOTF forums, and has answered many questions regarding the contest, sometimes answering the same question numerous times.

I have seen many of these same questions asked here at Hatrack recently.

She has graciously given Hatrack permission to copy her insightful posts here at Hatrack. So without further ado, let me present to you KD Wentworth on WOTF. If you find any of this information useful please go to either forum and thank KDW.

I have tried to organize the posts as best I could and attached the corresponding links.

Permissions:

quote:
K.D. Wentworth to me
show details 5:56 PM (6 hours ago)

Donavan, that would be fine with me. Thanks for asking!

Best, KDW



[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 10, 2010).]


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Dark Warrior
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On picking finalists:

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4203

quote:
... I do the best I can with the limited amount of time I
have each quarter to get the results back to L.A. And every quarter lots of
great stories rise to the top of the pile. It's always hard to separate out
the Finalists from the Semifinalists. There's usually only a hair's difference
between them.

The sad reality is that if a story does not look like a possible winner very
early on, I have to go on to the next one because (insert very large number
here) stories are waiting for my attention. So put your best ammunition on
the first page!


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4219

quote:
...I don't get to pick the published
Finalists, though I wish I did. I always have a few favorites that the Final
Judges didn't pick.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4347

quote:
Final sorting means I've separated the Finalists and Semi-Finalists out from
the rest.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5179

quote:
Sometimes it's easy to put a story in the Semifinalists pile because it has an obvious flaw. Other times, I have to go with my gut feeling and then figure out why I did that later when I write the critique. Usually there's two or three stories that I have to take out of the Finalists pile that really hurt.
And sometimes my favorite of the Finalists doesn't win.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5179

quote:
It was a very tight quarter. When I was done sorting, I still had to prune
five stories out of the Finalists pile. Everything was sent back yesterday
(except the Semifinalists). Folks should start hearing the news.

quote:
Most quarters I wind up with more stories than I can make Finalists, but it's
often just two or three. Five more is a lot!

An actual critigue of a Hatracker Semi-Finalist
With approvals from Genevive

quote:
The main reason this piece did not advance to Finalist, though, was that you split the plot between two viewpoint characters, "Wife1" amd "Wife2", neither of whom are very active in determining what happens plot-wise.

When you select a main character, it's traditional to ask yourself who wants something and why can't he/she have it? Who has the power to act in this situation? Who has the capacity to grow and change? Both of these female characters are fairly passive. Their needs and desires do not drive the plot. Instead their mates, "Husband1" and "Husband2", make all the decisions.

You have created a rich backstory here. You just need to restructure the plot so that the viewpoint characters are not so passive. It would probably be easiest to switch the viewpoint to "Husband1" and "Husband2", but you could also keep the viewpoint characters you already have and work to make the females more active.


[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited December 06, 2010).]


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Dark Warrior
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On Honorable Mentions (HM) and rejections:

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4203

quote:
I'm afraid that I look at so many stories that I can't even remember the titles
of the Finalists after I send them back. I have to keep a one line synopsis
of them in order to be able to remember what they were about in case I have
to break a tie. But if you got an HM, I know it was a good story. I hope you've
entered this quarter! You can't win if you don't enter!


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4235
quote:
HMs are stories that have exceptionally well executed plots, concepts, characters,
and/or prose, but just don't rise to the very top of the pile. If you get an
HM, it means you've scored in the top fifteen percent of all entries, which
is no small achievement. And it definitely means you should keep entering.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4331

quote:
An Honorable Mention (formerly Quarterfinalist) is a story that has at least one (and usually more) area(s) of excellence, such as prose, characters, premise, setting, or plot, but is not retained for the very small pile of possible Finalists.
Typically, an Honorable Mention means that you have scored in the top fifteen percent of all entries.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4651
quote:
... no one's story gets rejected because of a typo or misspelling. It's incredibly difficult to get all of those out because the eye sees what it expects to see. That's why it's helpful to get someone else to proof for you.
The single most important quality in a winning story is its originality. The people with the best imaginations are the ones with the most potential to have a great career, and getting new writers launched into careers is what the Contest
is all about.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4395
quote:
HMs are stories with at least one or more excellent elements, such as prose, idea, characters, setting, plot, that do not make the possible Finalists pile. As for contacting folks, Joni has that happy job. I just get all the reading and sorting. They don't like me to tell how many stories we get, and the number varies anyway from quarter to quarter.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4555
quote:
I read until I know a story isn't going to be an HM or go into the possible Finalists pile. That may take me all the way to the end and it may not. I can't give you a percentage because I don't keep track. There are a lot of
perfectly fine stories that just don't rise above their competition enough to get HM.

I think of them as journeyman stories where the author is learning his or her craft. We all have to write them in order to gain control and improve our skills.
It's like training for a race. No one expects to be able to run a marathon their first time out, or even in the first few months of training. It takes time and patience and devotion to your goal.



http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4731
quote:
... I read a story until I know that it's not going to be an Honorable Mention or higher. That could be just a couple of pages or the whole manuscript. Anything that gets put into the possible Finalists pile is read all the way through.
Occasionally, I'll read a piece that is so outstanding that I'll mark it Finalist upon my first reading. That doesn't happen usually more than once or twice a quarter, though one fabulous quarter I wound up with five of those.


http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=451&start=0
quote:
HMs are stories with one or more excellent elements but that are not going to win for some obvious reason. Sometimes it's that the premise is too familiar and not original enough. Often, it's that the protagonist is too passive or the pace is really slow. Sometimes the story is too long for the amount of plot it contains or, though well written, the protagonist is a jerk. Sometimes the author is deliberately vague about what is going on and the reader (me) loses interest. Sometimes the ending is off, with the story stopping too soon or not resolving the central conflict.

quote:
An HM is a story with one or (usually) more excellent elements: concept, characters, style, plot, ect. A reject just didn't hold my interest.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=71
quote:
If the piece looks unoriginal (LOTR rip-off, Buffy-clone story, ect.), I generally don't read very far. Also, if I run across a bit of overwrought language such as "the orb that makes the day the day" and "he was an averaged man," I usually stop. The chances that this story will be a winner when it has something that out of tune on the first page are very slim. I have so many stories to read that I can only spend time on the ones that have a chance to be the best of the quarter.

quote:
[resubmitting a rejection]... Usually it's better just to write something new, but we had a revised story win last year ("The Hanger Queen"), so it can be done. You only have one chance to win each quarter, though, and you want to use your very best ammunition.

quote:
Because we get so many stories that are neither sf or fantasy, you want to make sure that I can tell you've followed the rules and this IS a fantasy or sf story. Give me some hint of the sf or fantasy elements very early on.

quote:
... I try to get through at least the first two pages and often read more, if the piece intrigues me. I'm afraid there just isnt' time, though, to give everyone feedback on where I stop.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=70
quote:
We pretty much see plenty of everything except hard sf that's well researched. The Final Judges really like hard sf, but a lot of what we get has scientific errors, so even if it's othewise well written, I can't make that piece a Finalist.

quote:
Diamond ships that break when a steel ship runs into them. People who can survive at both Jovian and Earth pressures with no explanation. There's more, but the details have mercifully melted away. I only have so much buffer space in my head.

quote:
The only thing that makes me put a fantasy story down is if it's too heavily drawn/inspired by television/movie characters or is if it's clearly a D&D campaign. If I can tell the inspiration was Buffy or Twilight or Midnighters or Lord of the Rings, I'll reject that piece and go back to the slush looking for something more original. The more you can make a piece your own, the higher your chances of success.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=50&postdays=0&postor der=asc&start=30

quote:
I don't discard them without reading at least some portion of them though! Honorable Mentions (formerly Quarterfinalists) are stories with one or more exceptionally well done elements (concept, characters, plot, prose, ect.) that don't stand out enough to be considered for Finalists. I pick ten Semifinalists, which get critiques, and eight Finalists, which go on to a panel of Final Judges, which varies quarter by quarter

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=50&postdays=0&postor der=asc&start=60

quote:
My criteria, as succinctly as possible: I'm looking for well written stories with sympathetic protagonists, original concepts or original treatments of familiar concepts, and plots that don't depend upon someone doing something incredibly stupid (the "idiot" plot) to make them work.

Otherwise, it's like trying to define Art. We don't know exactly what it is, but we know it when we see it.

I do keep up with what's going on in the market as best I can, while still writing my own books and stories and reading for WOTF. I especially make an effort to read and recommend stories for the Nebula each year. Unfortunately, professional writers are some of the people with the least amount of time to read for pleasure.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=read&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&artnum=5304

quote:
The designation of Silver Honorable Mention is for the HMs that made it into the possible Finalists pile and just missed being designated Semifinalist. We wanted to have a new category for those. They deserve recognition and encouragement.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5311

quote:
when I sort out the Semifinalists, the ones left over are HMs, but they were much closer to winning than the other HMs so we decided to designate them Silver HMs. They deserve a little extra recognition for getting so close.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited April 29, 2010).]


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Dark Warrior
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On Published Finalists
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4187
quote:
... all the unchosen Finalists for the year are in the running to appear in the anthology, though usually only 1-3 are chosen, depending upon space limitations.
I don't get to chose, which is a shame because I would love to pick my own favorites. There have been some really great stories that didn't place, IMHO.
Email John Goodwin at Galaxy Press and ask him how long you should wait before marketing the story elsewhere.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4267

quote:
...I'm afraid there was only room for one extra story this year.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4779

quote:
... There's always eight Finalists and ten Semifinalists, except for the time I miscounted and we had eleven Semifinalists.

Writing advice from KDW

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4811

quote:
1. "Smirked" means a mean nasty little smile. It is not an all purpose synonymn for the words "smile" or "grin."
2. The past tense of sink is sank. "We sank the boat." "Sunk" requires an auxillery verb. "We have sunk the boat."
3. Paragraphs are your friend. Become one with your tab key.

quote:
4. When it comes to over the top metaphors and similes ("the night sky put the moon coin away in its black purse"), JUST SAY NO.
5. It's never a good idea to use the word "orb" as a synonynm for "eye" or "sun."
6. Don't start with poetry that you've written yourself.

quote:
... I hate all action verbs used in place of "said."

"Stop that," Bob growled.

"Stop that," Bob squealed.

"Stop that," Bob snorted.

I could go on--and on and on and on!


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4475

quote:
Some adverbs are fine, but it's always a good idea to use them sparingly. If you find yourself piling them on, look at the verbs themselves and see if they're
too general. Also, dialogue should communicate the emotional load of the story without depending upon an adverb to get the job done. Sometimes too many adverbs is an indication that you need to rewrite your dialogue.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4635

quote:
[POV]... It didn't bother me either. There's all kinds of third person viewpoints, with tight focus and wide focus. The important thing is to pick one style and stick
with it throughout the story. It's jarring to be in one kind of viewpoint, then have another brought in halfway through the piece.

quote:
[Killing the protag]... I agree with all that you said. It's not an automatic dealbreaker for me, but it's hard to carry off. But if you think it's necessary to the story, try it out and see where it takes you. Actually, I did it a few years back with a story published in FASF titled "Tall One," and it was a Nebula Finalist. OTOH, it didn't win, so maybe if the main character had survived, I'd be a Nebula winner. {g*

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4715

quote:
I don't think any of the judges dislikes space opera, though we have a lot of Final Judges and I've never polled them about it so I don't know that for sure. I certainly don't dislike it.

I think the key here is to make it thoroughly your own. Make sure there are no resonances of other successful space operas such as Honor Harrington, Star Wars, Star Trek, or Firefly. The moment a Scottish engineer walks onto the bridge or a science officer with pointed ears, or someone starts talking about the "'Verse," we know a piece's influences.


quote:
... I don't even read titles until after I've read the story.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5051

quote:
... The rule of thumb for using happenstance/coincidence is that you can use it once in a story/book if it hurts oe impedes your character, not at all if it
helps.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=59

quote:
The problem is that no editor has time to read a story that doesn't promise to follow their guidelines. When you have a reputation in the field, you can take a bit longer to get started. The editor will recognize your name and trust that you know what you're doing.

The best thing to do is to study stories that get the sf/fantasy element out in the first few paragraphs and see how the author did it. Look at the WOTF anthologies and other Best of the Year anthologies. Just read the first page of story affter story and let your subconscious soak it in. All the editor needs is a hint that this is Not Kansas.


quote:
... a hint is all the editor needs to stick with you. Cramming everything in on the first page is trying too hard. The editor just wants to know that reading further is not a waste of time because this story fits his/her guidelines.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=82

quote:
The ending is always the hardest element to pull off. It's like flying an airplane: you need a good take-off and all the parts have to work together to keep the plane in the air, but then most of all you need a good landing, or the whole journey has been in vain.

You have to remember that stories in WOTF have been picked by, not a single editor, but five different people, all of whom have different tastes and reading esthetics. Stories selected pleased all five of us. That's one reason why humorous stories rarely make the cut. The sense of humor has to resonate with me, then the Final Judges too. Humor is so subjective that it's the rare humorous story that five judges can agree upon.


http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=66

quote:
[On Dark Stories]... A lot of its acceptability lies in how graphic you are. Less graphic is best for WOTF because of some of the places we market the anthology, like high school writing classes. It is hard to sell something that long, but FASF buys longer pieces and so does Asimov's. Hitchcock's buys long pieces but they really don't want gore.

In the end, the saying is "don't reject your own story for the editor." If you're not sure, send it in. The worst that can happen is that the market turns you down. Dean Wesley Smith once said that editors never remember bad stories that cross their desks, only the good ones, so if you send something unsuitable, it won't blacken your reputation.

And, of course, in WOTF, it's all anonymous, so I couldn't hold an unsuitable story against someone, even if I wanted to.



quote:
drawing the line between Dark Fantasy and Horror is hard because they shade into one another. For me, Horror focuses more on the gruesome aspects of the situation (bloody wounds, dismembered bodies, horrific torture) and the hopelessness. The end of a horror story is often a downer. Dark Fantasy focuses more on the strangeness.

quote:
... There's a fine line between horror that goes over the top for us and dark fantasy/dark sf that does not. Just keep in mind that we market the anthology to high school writing classes so a lot of gore and slashing will not be appropriate.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=157
quote:
Some quarters have fewer entries than others, but we can never predict which ones that will be. So, just enter every quarter. Cream always rises to the top anyway.

As for mechanics, typos happen. I don't get upset about a mistake on the first page. Several mistakes, though, indicate a level of carelessness that doesn't bode well for the quality of the story. It's especially sobering to see frequent errors in syntax or verb tense, because these indicate that the writer doesn't have a good understanding of the tools of her trade. Always get someone to help you proofread, if at all possible. The eye sees what it expects to see.

On clean-up of published stories, they all get copyedited. I cannot honestly say how many changes are requested because I have never edited the anthology myself. When my story published in WOTF 5, minimal changes were marked in the copyedited manuscript.

Worn-out themes: Anything that someone else has done and done well. It's not impossible to sell us a vampire story or a dragon story or a ghost story, but we get tons of them (like other markets), so there's a lot of competition. The more original you can make your story, the better chance you will have of selling it.

We're not using the disposable manuscripts to heat our home, but let's just say that the folks who pick up the recycling are not very happy with me because of all the paper in my bin!



http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=67
quote:
all stories have to get past me. Fortunately, I like (and write) all kinds of speculative fiction, everything from horror and dark fantasy to humor, military sf, and even a bit of hard sf. I try to be broadminded and pick the most original, best-written stories entered, even if they're not about my favorite subjects. And sometimes the story I love the best among the Finalists does not place because the Final Judges have different tastes. In the end, I can only go with what I like.

quote:
Font is not a make or break element (although I hate it when a story comes in all italics!), but when I pull a manuscript out of the envelope and it looks the way it's supposed to look (see above), I'm already predisposed to like it. My brain whispers that this is a person who has bothered to learn the rules and conduct his or her self like a professional. It's much more possible that such a person has written a professional level story than the one who has tiny font with extra spaces between all the paragraphs and no tabs. That's not always true, of course, but properly formatted stories tend to be the better ones submitted.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=50&start=0

quote:
A quick start is always good, especially if you can work in mention of your science fictional or fantasy element. What I didn't realize, before I started reading entries for the Contest, is that we (and the major magazines) get many "untargeted" submissions. Those are stories that are not sf or fantasy and do not fit our guidelines. People see a free contest and just send something in without bothering to see if what they've written is right for us.

You want to convince the editor that this is not one of those stories. Later, after you've made a name for yourself, you can take longer to set things up but in the beginning you have to grab the editor's interest quickly.

As for originality, that is the key element we're looking for. You can't stray so far that the reader won't know what you're talking about but the people with the best imaginations are the ones who break in and have careers.

Don't count on the title to sell your story. Titles can be misleading and I hardly pay any attention to them until after I've finished reading the piece.

Make the prose as smooth as you can, but don't get caught up in endlessly rewriting. It is entirely possible to rewrite the life out of the piece. The story is the most important element. Readers read for story, not elegantly constructed words.


http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=50&postdays=0&postor der=asc&start=15

quote:
Orson Scott Card says you should find someone willing to read for you and then train them to be your "wise reader." You do that by telling them what you want them to read for. I have two.

One is a friend who is a choreographer and very creative. He likes fantasy better than sf. The other is my husband, who likes sf better than fantasy. They both know that I don't want them to tell me how to fix something if there's a problem. I just want to know if it makes sense, what parts they liked, if I left anything out, if it's too predictable, and if the characters act in a consistent manner.

I like getting readings from them better than my writers' group, because in a writers' group, everyone often wants to tell you how to rewrite it. But no one can write my stories but me, so that's not helpful.



quote:
before I won in WOTF I was just too shy to show my stories to other writers. It is an intensely personal thing. If you can find one person to read for you, I think you will enjoy the partnership.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5213

quote:
Just avoid anything that closely resembles something popular as in Buffy, Twilight, Battlestar Galactica, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, Star Trek--I'm sure you get the idea.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5256

quote:
elements of horror are fine in an sf story. Send that rascal in!

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5317

quote:
As for juggling WOTF with writing, most of the time I write in the morning, then spend 2-3 hours in the afternoon on reading entries. I can only read entries for about an hour at a time, then I have to do something else before I can go back to it.

The amount of entries is about the same from year to year, but I believe the quality is rising.

I do like a well constructed plot. The most essential elements are an active protagonist and a satisfying ending.


quote:
...the ending needs to resolve the central plot problem. You can leave some things to the reader's imagination, like Tony (Tony Pi--The Stone Cipher) did, but you need to tie up the main event. Most of the time, the reader really wants to know What Happened. More than a few stories have wound up Semifinalists rather than Finalists because they stopped about a page too soon.

quote:
As far as originality goes, how do you feel if the story we submit to WotF was originally written for a themed anthology/contest, does that count against us? Or is it the use of the theme that's more important?

KDW--If it's a good story, it won't matter, although I can always tell when there's been an open theme anthology because we get a lot of stories dealing with zeppelins or pirates, etc. One of the zeppelin stories was a Semifinalist. Your original take on the theme is what matters.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5371

quote:
a story must have a character in conflict, which means he or she has a problem to solve. The more dire the problem is, the more suspense is generated.
A weak ending is one in which the problem is never really resolved. The story just trails off and the reader is left wondering what ultimately happened.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5475

quote:
I just had a chance to visit with some of the WOTF judges at the Hollywood Awards.
They all agreed that they dislike stories which do not tie everthing up.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5711
Kathy Wentworth
Article 5726, Thu 06 Jan 2011 02:27:09p

quote:
it's hard to say if you'd revised the story, whether it would do better. I give out HM's for pieces that have one or more excellent elements. I look for vivid characters, well constructed writing, pace, originality of idea, and the ability to get the story off to a fast start (without info dumps!). HM's are meant to encourage, to say "you are on the right track--keep entering!"

I often think we are our own worst (and hardest) critics.


[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 07, 2011).]


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Dark Warrior
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On Sexual Content and profanity in Entries
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4235
quote:
There's no point in sending a story with a sex scene
to the Final judges because we can't publish it and still sell in certain markets
that we court, such as high school writing classes. There was a wonderful Semifinalist
story several years ago that would have been a Finalist if it hadn't had a very
graphic (and unnecessary) sex scene in the middle.

There's plenty of markets for stories with sex, just not WOTF.



http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=488
quote:
... It's not that you can't write about vampires, witches, dragons, elves, etc. It's just that your chances are less if you do because we get so many of those.

As for sex, it's the graphic on-stage details we're trying to avoid, as well as sex that really does not contribute to the plot. The same goes for graphic violence that spells out every bit of severed flesh and pool of blood.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5200

quote:
think PG-13. One F-bomb won't get you tossed, but it doesn't portend well. Repeated instances portend even worse. Ask yourself if the rough language and images are really necessary for this particular story. If they are, another
market would probably suit it better. If they are not, why include them?

http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=680

quote:
Mild profanity is all right, but the f-bomb is not. If the story wins, it will be edited out, so why not just write the piece without it in the first place?


On Getting Critiques
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4235

quote:
Chris, if you were a Finalist, you won't get a critique. If you were a Semifinalist,
you'll get a critique from me.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4603
quote:
I try really hard to make the critiques useful. First, I think
it's important to concentrate on what the author did right, which is obviously
a lot, or the story wouldn't have been a possible Finalist.

Then I try to understand what made me put this story in the Semifinalists pile
rather than the Finalists. Sometimes that's hard to pull into my conscious
mind, because it's more of a feeling, than anything else, so it requires reflection
and rereading.

And, when I propose a change, I like to give the author two or three ways the
problem can be fixed, not because I want them to use any of them, but I want
the author to see how much room for change there actually is. Everyone has
to write their story their own way, so it's not useful for me to say do this
MY way. In the end, everyone has to fix it with their own creativity. I just
try to shine a little light on the process.



http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4763
quote:
... it often takes me several weeks to complete
them. I try to read each story twice (again) before sitting down to write the
critique, and sometimes I have to let the story rattle around in my head for
a day or two before I can express what I need to say.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5003
quote:
Writing the critiques is actually the hardest part of my job.

On Her Own Winning Entry
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4235

quote:
When I was a Finalist,
I didn't even find out that I'd made it that far until they called me to say
that I'd won. I guess the process has evolved over time.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4507

quote:
Utah has a long tradition of producing WOTF winners. For years, I was the only
winner from Oklahoma and my Utahn WOTF friends used to tease me and say that
I had "inner Utahness."

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4539

quote:
The only thing that there's plenty of in a writer's life is rejection. There's
not a lot of money or security for most of us, not a lot of fame. If you train
as a teacher, doctor, nurse, or accountant, you get your certification and then
they let you work at your chosen profession. But there's no such surefire career
path in writing. Some people sell early, others have to work for years to make
it, and there's no guarantee for any of us. And, even worse, if you sell one
story or novel, there's no certainty that you will sell more.

When I won in the Contest, I'd been writing every day for a year and a half
and it was my first sale. The only encouragement I'd had up to that point was
a single personal handwritten rejection from Charles Ryan at Aboriginal SF.
I was so excited over that, my husband took me out to dinner to celebrate.

I entered the Contest five times before I won, and then it was another full
(really long) year before I sold a second story. I know how hard it is. If
writing isn't making you happy and you need time off, you should take it. The
possibility of a writing career will still be here if you decide to come back.

Bear in mind, though, that success as a writer is often said to be "fifty percent
talent and fifty percent not giving up." The only part over which we have any
control is the not-giving-up.


On Proofs for Winning Entries
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4283

quote:
Sarah, there should be both a contract and proofs. Contact Author Services
via the WOTF website and see where they are in the process. I know it's too
early for proofs because they've just barely finalized the selection by adding
a Finalist.


[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 16, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited April 05, 2011).]


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Dark Warrior
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On Winning WOTF
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4315
quote:
FWIW, everyone, from published Finalist to the Gold Winner, gets his or her own introduction and moment alone on the stage. It's even better than the Olympics! {g*

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4411
quote:
We will have a glorious time. The workshop is always so much fun. In some ways, I think it's the best part of your prize for winning. Money is great, but it gets spent, while the memories of the workshop will be with you for a very long time.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4475

quote:
Only the people published in the anthology attend the workshop. This will be all twelve quarterly winners and any Finalists selected to fill out the book.

Finalists will be announced, then a few weeks later (depending on how busy the Final Judges are) the three winners for the quarter.



http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4699
quote:
... As always, the awards
were simply wonderful. Elizabeth Moss (Zoey from West Wing) was one of the presenters and it was all glitzy and fun. The judges got only a barebones rehearsal (mostly by request) but we pretty much knew what to do. It all went very well and far too fast. Everyone looked gorgeous in tuxes and evening dress. Two
of the winners even wore purple, my color, so that was fun.

The best part of the workshop/awards week, for me, though, is getting to know the participants. I really look forward to putting faces and personalities with the stories I loved.



http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5051
quote:
In other late breaking news, I hear that Ann McCaffrey will grace this year's awards with her presence. That is so cool! She is a lovely lady and it's always so much fun to be with her.
***Note from Dark Warrior - A Dated entry that no longer applies but WOW am I jealous.
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5067
quote:
[Success of Past Winners]... the figures are constantly changing, so it's hard to come up with an exact count at any particular moment. At last count, it was over three hundred novels and more than three thousand short stories.

quote:
... The figure has been revised now to over five hundred novels which sounds more likely. Sean Williams alone has published more than thirty.

http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=50&postdays=0&postor der=asc&start=60

quote:
It really hasn't changed all that much. The guidelines were set down by L. Ron Hubbard and they work, so we haven't had to make much in the way of alterations. I think the stories are better every year and the Final Judges concur. I'm not sure some of the ones that won in the early years would be competitive now. We have so many talented writers competing!

Usually the workshop is in a different city every year, so that keeps things from seeming too much the same. Last year was Pasadena. The year before was San Diego. In my year, we workshopped out at Sag Harbor on Long Island, then had the awards at the United Nations.


KDW view on reading magazines/anthologies where you submit
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4315

quote:
If you can't afford a sub, you can at least buy a copy or two and see what the editor likes. I've found that, if I don't care for most of the stories in a publication, my work is likely not to please the editor either. We're obviously on different wavelengths.

***Note*** Read between the lines...Buy and read WOTF anthologies to know what KDW and the judging panel look for

On WOTF Tax Write-Offs In all seriousness I never thought of this
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4427

quote:
But postage is tax deductible for writers!

***Note From Dark Warrior...would buying books to read for research be a write-off?

KDW on her role in the contest
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4491

quote:
the stories are received in L.A. by the marvelous Joni, who logs them in, separates them from their identifying cover sheet, and ships them to me in large boxes. I read them, sort them into Honorable Mentions, non-placers, and possible
Finalists. Then, when I finish the first reading, I read all the possible Finalists again to sort them into Finalists and Semifinalists. After that, I send everything back except the Semifinalists, which I read AGAIN, so I can write critiques.

Joni copies the eight Finalists and sends them to this quarter's panel of Final Judges. Then we announce the three winners.



http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4731
quote:
... became a Judge somewhere
around 2000, then a year later became First Reader for a year, then after that Coordinating Judge. I enjoy being the Coordinating Judge because I get to find the nuggets of gold hiding in all those boxes of entries.

I don't think there's any advantage to entering early. A good story will always stand out, even if I've pulled thirty out for the possible Finalists pile already. One of the Finalists this quarter came out of the very end of the very last
box of entries sent to me.

I like the job I have now, but I also get to judge the Finals occasionally too, sometimes to break a tie. I like both aspects. It's fun to guess which stories the Final Judges will like and see if I'm right. Sometimes there's a story
that I really love which doesn't win. Opinions vary widely, I fear



http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4747
quote:
... the first reader goes through all the entries and picks out the possible Finalists. The Coordinating Judge reads the possible Finalists, sorts out the Finalists and Semifinalists and Honorable Mentions, makes decisions about the
contest rules, and helps teach the workshop. Right now, I'm doing both positions, as Algis Budrys also did for many years.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5179
quote:
... I hope to finish the first reading today, then
have the Finalists and Semifinalists sorted out by Monday. This requires reading all of the candidates in the possible Finalists pile again. After I send them back and get the Semifinalist critiques done, I generally take a week off before
tackling the next quarter.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5333

quote:
Kathy, on the editing: what exactly does that entail for an average WOTF volume? Is this like line editing, or merely deciding which stories go in which order?

I'm reading the stories for line editing and continuity errors.



Submissions to WOTF
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4571

quote:
...don't send it Return Receipt Required, which means someone must stand in line to sign for it. I recommend sending it First Class which will get it to us just fine. It only has to be postmarked by the deadline, which works just fine for stories sent within the continental USA. Sending from outside our borders is a bit trickier and could use some planning ahead
as those mailings can suffer delays.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=4603
quote:
...confirmations come from Author Services in California. It's too soon for you to get a confirmation, though. It takes a while for them to deal with the huge influx of entries that comes close to the deadline...


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5598

quote:
Read your electronic file all the way through before submitting it, especially if you've translated it from another file type. I'm seeing a whole host of formatting errors, including pieces that start out double-spaced, but then lapse
into single spacing after the first page, and one curious manuscript that started subsituting "h" for quotation marks about page 6 and on to the end.

On Story Length
http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=116

quote:
We really don't prefer any particular length, but it's hard to do justice to a fantasy or sf story that's extremely short. The way to tell if your story is too long is to put it aside for a week, then tell yourself the plot. Then go back and read it again. Anything you left out is probably unnecessary and should be cut.

Even though we buy longer stories, as you noted, many markets do not, so you want your story as lean as possible to maximize your marketing chances.


http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=522

quote:
It's my theory that the reason winning stories tend to be longer is that there aren't many markets for longer stories and therefore a large pool of really good long unsold stories exists. It's much easier to sell 5-6K pieces. My winning story, FWIW, was 2K.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5261

quote:
...I go by the industry standard which is 250 words/page for a correctly formatted manuscript, which is, as you noted, for 17K somewhere in the neighborhood of 68 pages. If the story is a BIT longer, I don't throw it out, but 68 pages is a very generous word limit. IMO, of course.
And, remember, even if there is a lot of white space, that takes up the same amount of space when printed that words would.

quote:
A little over isn't a problem. If you are properly formatted, your manuscript should come in at about 68 pages. It's the folks who are sending in 90 and 120 page documents who are seriously exceeding our guidelines. And reducing the font size to get more on a page is a total no-no. If you can't tell your story in 68 pages, it's not right for this market.

On Electronic WOTF Submissions
http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5475

quote:
I sold a story to a venue last year that required electronic submissions and italics, not underlining. When the galleys arrived, almost every instance of italics was missing and I had to go through and reinsert them all again, very tiresome. Underlining is just plain easier to see.

quote:
There's no problem with having the story title in the header or the file name, but so far I'm seeing about 30 percent of the stories with the author's name in the file name, header, or on the cover page.

quote:
The format they have chosen doesn't show page numbers if there are none in the header. I've already gotten one story that was just a long pageless file.

quote:
I like having page numbers, though.

quote:
Now that the critiques are done and the Workshop and awards are over, I've had a chance to read some of our electronically submitted entries for the current quarter. Please, please, PLEASE make sure you have deleted your name from the document, including the file name and the headers. Kind patient Joni takes it off the hard copies when someone forgets/neglects to do it, but she doesn't process the electronic submissions.

Spread the word please...Oh, and be sure to turn off Track Changes.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5639

quote:

1. Turn off Track Changes
2. Check the spelling of your title
3. Double space the manuscript (!)
4. Delete your name EVERYWHERE
5. Do not put an extra blank line between paragraphs unless you want to indicate a change of scene.
6. Use your tab key, not extra space, to indicate a new paragraph.
[Also]
I ran across two yesterday with the title spelled wrong in the file name. Spellcheck doesn't work on file names so you have to be vigilant. Spelling the title wrong gives a bad first impression.

http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5682

quote:
WOTF has contracted with an outfit called Wizehive which accepts all the entries and formats them for me. For now, I'm not going to worry about downloading them on my Kindle. I can read them on any computer including my little netbook, which is very portable.


http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=blogview&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture&from=5779

quote:

I was wondering if you have had any issues with the online sub system not recognizing special characters (e.g. accents, umlauts, etc.)? If we use some words from a foreign language, would it be safe to use these special characters, or would
you recommend omitting them and perhaps adding them in the editing process if the story wins? Forgive me if this has been covered before, but I couldn't find it.


As far as I know, it's all right to use them, though you run the risk of them showing up as something weird. I would not use them and wait until we edit to add them back in. Right now, we're having trouble with apostrophes in the name of the file. We'll get it fixed, but for now don't put apostrophes in
the file name when you upload.


[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited June 21, 2011).]


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snapper
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Here is a recent interview that KDW (she who must be impressed) did for sometime hatracker Steffenwolf.

http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=217

Diabolical Plots, a blog brain child of Dave Steffen and fellow hatracker Anthony Sullivan has many outstanding interviews, reviews, and commentary involving the art of writing and the world of fantasy/Science fiction.

The Wentworth is well done. Many enlightening questions in it.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Wow, Dark Warrior, that's a lot of work!

Thank you!


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LlessurNire
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Thanks a lot darkwarrior!! I've read bits and pieces of these comments from poking around, but nothing near as thorough!!
Very much appreciated.

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skadder
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Great post--a lot of work--well done.

My first two entries were rejects and both were fantasy stories. I then read somewhere that WOTF gets ALOT of fantasy and little sci-fi. Now I am certain that my first two stories had other reasons for rejection, but I decided with my third story not to compete with the mass of fantasy stories and compete instead with the small number of sci-fi stories--it is called 'Writers of the Future' after all. I figured they would prefer sci-fi above fantasy--may not be true...

My story isn't hard sci-fi, but it appears to be...By that I mean, I don't explain any physics or anything (because my knowledge is poor) but I talk about stuff like 'energy displacement mesh' and 'the crash was extremely energetic' and 'being captured by the planet's gravity'. I used some hard sci-fi language, but no real explanations of how things worked--some hints, perhaps.

I also created stuff, like a 'crystalline matrix', but didn't explain how it worked.

In many ways my story was fantasy.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited January 10, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited January 10, 2010).]


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Dark Warrior
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The amount of information made it well worth the effort. Thanks KDW and kdw for letting me post it.
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BenM
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I've a question I haven't seen discussed with respect to WotF, or much anywhere really. As someone who writes in British English, if I submit to WotF, should I tweak my spellings to American English? I worry that if this is required, then won't American readers stumble on idioms or minor grammar differences present in British English?
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Dark Warrior
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http://goldenagestories.com/beta/bb/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=10397&highlight=#10397

quote:
Skadder, British-English is fine.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 10, 2010).]


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dougsguitar
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Dark Warrior- Thanks a lot... really a lot!
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skadder
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I specifically asked--she said it was fine.
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BenM
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Awesome guys, thanks.
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extrinsic
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WOTF holds itself out as an international contest. As long as there's internal consistency and a story stands on its own, there's no overt reason to adapt U.S. English conventions. Australian English, Canadian, Scottish, Irish, or British, South African, Indian, Pakistani, Hong Kong, have distinctive characteristics that could inform a story in meaningful ways.

I envision a general openness to celebrating other cultures. Outside of a backdrop of isolationist intolerance, there's a considerable foreign cultural inflow in the U.S. that's probably not as widespread as in other English speaking nations. U.S. media and culture projects an international flair that's wide open.

I go out on routine errands and encounter Middle Eastern, Oriental, Asian, Eastern and Western European, South and Meso American, and Oceanic peoples. My work involves people of all walks of life. And I'm in a remote hinterland rural community that doesn't on its surface attract immigrants. Work hereabouts is generally low paying. There isn't a whole lot of entry level menial jobs. Not much migratory labor needed either. The schools have marginal reputations. About all there is is a subtropical climate and beautiful beaches. Tourism, seafood, military complex, some light industry, very little heavy industry. Municipal government is the number one employment sector.

The U.S. is truly the melting pot of world cultures. WOTF admirablly reflects that ideal. It's the story that wins, not the cultural background. In the contrary, I believe a good story portraying different cultural perspectives has a slight advantage over same same cultural perspectives because they're not as commonplace to the judges' experiences.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited January 10, 2010).]


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Crank
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I found this curious...

quote:
[resubmitting a rejection]... Usually it's better just to write something new, but we had a revised story win last year ("The Hanger Queen"), so it can be done.

I submitted a story to WotF many years ago that didn't place at all. Recently, I've reworked quite a bit of it, to the point where it's almost not the same story. Even the title is different.

Now, judging from the quote above, submitting my revised story should be perfectly acceptable. Am I drawing the correct conclusion?

S!
S!


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Dark Warrior
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Yes...with your rewrites you should be fine resubmitting if you think that is your best shot at winning.

If you click on the thread link above the post you can read the chain of questioning for better insight.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 10, 2010).]


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extrinsic
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Other helpful content and advice is available in the W&IOTF Herald newsletter. Of note, Algis Budrys' mentorship of Ms. Wentworth has been remarked upon at other forums. Budrys' "Basics of Writing" article is in the February 2009 Herald.

W&IOTF Newsletter index;
http://www.writersofthefuture.com/news.htm

Also for a comprehensive indexing of the W&IOTF volumes, their publishers, their editors (who are for the most part also the WOTF contest coordinating judges), their contents, their authors and illustrators, and so much more, The Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase, ISFDB, index by volume at;

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pe.cgi?8224

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited January 10, 2010).]


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extrinsic
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quote:
***Note From Dark Warrior...would buying books to read for research be a write-off?
The kinds of business expenses an income-earning creative writer can legitmately take probably don't include creative writing publications. Though a business with a client waiting room can take a write off for reading material expenses.

One rule of thumb for writing business expense write-offs is that they must be a necessary part of an income-earning writer's business expenditures. Laptop, promotional expenses, Internet service, office supplies and expenses, mailing supplies and postage, basic reference books, professional membership dues, agent expenses, etc.

In the alternative, a writer not reporting writing income can't take writing business write-offs, nor can an income earning writer report a net loss of writing income apportionment due to writing expense write-offs for more than three years out of every five. Sad to say, the U.S. government considers writing a hobby unless there's steady, taxable income. Now, if it's only a penny net income after expense write-offs. . .

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited January 10, 2010).]


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genevive42
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This is great info. Thanks.
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Merlion-Emrys
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Hmmm...not trying to "derail" here, and I'm not personally interested in WOTF, but what she says about basically reading until she comes upon a reason not too is very interesting to me. Of course, judges for a contest and slush readers for publications aren't quite the same thing, but I figure there are similarities. Someone posted a list of writing advice a while back, one of the bits of which was essentially, its not always about trying to drag a reader on, its often about not giving them a reason not too continue.

Although either way, its all still going to basically boil down to taste, but I think some times too much effort at "hooking" can result in stuff thats so contrived it achieves the oposite of its purpose.


Just something to think about.


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Dark Warrior
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A very valid point Merlion. That's why I made sure to title the post "WOTF" Advice and not "writing" advice. It is not often that you get so much insight into specifically what a judge or slush reader are looking for and this post is geared directly toward those that are interested in WOTF.

My intention of re-posting her unedited forums conversations wasnt to debate what is wrong or right. I simply want to help the fellow hatrackers do as good as they can in that competition by collating answers to many questions i have seen asked here at hatrack. Whether someone applies the info here to their WOTF entry or to any other writing is simply up to each individual.

Of course I don't want to try to interpret the specific post you have a question about. She answers all questions on either of the listed forums if you would like to get a response directly from her on the subject.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 11, 2010).]


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snapper
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My first entry for the WotF contest got me an HM. So I reworked it, improve it, and resent it a year later.

Got a rejection for my efforts.


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Brendan
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quote:
My first entry for the WotF contest got me an HM. So I reworked it, improve it, and resent it a year later.
Got a rejection for my efforts.

Obviously it was no longer original - she remembered a similar story the year before.



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tchernabyelo
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Well, I can but hope she reads as far as the introduction of the spec element of my story, which isn't until page 3 or 4. I looked at ways round that but as it's one of those stories about someone who doesn't believe in magic and then dicoveres something apparently undane is anything but... well. We shall see.

I have another lined up for Q2, anyway, which has a clearly-exotic beginning, so that might work better.

We shall see. Interesting material, though, particularly about the hard SF - maybe for Q3 I should actually finish one of my hard SF stories!


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dee_boncci
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Actually, since the winners get paid and published in an anthology that's commercially marketed, and she sifts through the big pile of entries to cull them before passing them on to the final decision makers, she's doing essentially the same job as a first/slush reader at any publication. And while her personal taste may enter into it, she is clear that in some regards she reads with the potential marketing targets in mind. The big difference I see between the contest and a standard publication is a more concerted effort to provide feedback on some of the better of the unsuccessful submissions.

Lots of good stuff in there. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.


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Brad R Torgersen
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Wow, that was some significant heavy lifting, Dark Warrior. Well done.

I never got lower than HM, and it only took me 6 tries to score.

I posted my thoughts on 'how to win' here:

http://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/how-to-win-the-writers-of-the-future-contest/

Just my 2¢ as a current winner.

Also, I'm filing a Schedule C with my taxes this year. On it I am putting plane tickets, meal costs, tuition costs, and gas costs for my June trip to Kris Rusch and Dean Smith's workshop in Oregon, as well as all of my post office receipts. You don't have to be published or get a check to prove you're engaged in a business. Just the rejection slips, if ever the IRS were to get curious. So if you've spent any money at all on your writing, especially overhead costs such as postage and whatnot, it might not be a bad idea to do a Schedule C.


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Dark Warrior
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Thanks Brad that has been an oft visited link for me.

Added some recent KDW quotes today.


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snapper
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I got my entry back the other day, one of the last that were left. Mine are usually in the last batch for some reason, which makes me wonder if it was in a consideration pile. You know, to HM or not to HM.
I guess it doesn't matter either way.

However, as a long distance driver, I need my wife to help me send my entries away. Now I don't want to suggest that this is the reason why it didn't do better, but it wasn't up to their specs on formatting.
It was doubled space and didn't have my name on it but the font was a Courier 10 (not 12), the first page ink was a bit faded and no page #'s and title on the top of every page.

My question is, how much of a difference do these errors make? Granted, an irritated slush reader caught at the wrong time may put it in the rejection pile, unread, out of princible, but are these small absences in formatting protocol enough to affected how an entry does or even disqualify it from contention?

One last thing, the first page on my script had a bent page. Does this mean nothing, as the logical side of brain is telling me, or everything! as the obsessed side screams.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited January 20, 2010).]


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InarticulateBabbler
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I believe there is a lot of leeway, snapper. If the story was engaging enough to make KDW read it all, I believe she wouldn't hve much cared for the small flaws. Of course, that's just my opinion.

I'm happy I got in this quarter--I was starting to worry.


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KayTi
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I've had bent-corner returns too, snapper. I don't think it means anything specific, though it's probably some sort of thing for them (maybe it means "I've entered this into the system" and is something Joni does?)

While I think entries are often sent in a FIFO kind of way (first in is the first out), remember too that they're dealing in batches. this batch comes in, make a pile of them. (First one is on the BOTTOM.) Send them off. Remember, the first one is on the bottom of this pile. KDW reads them, presumably starting from the top because that's easiest. So of this batch, she's probably reading the first last. And I hear she gets many batches.

So, basically, I think there's not much to read into the results, other than an HM is a story that will probably do well elsewhere. A non-placer probably needs something to improve it, though it might be something as simple as putting the speculative element up-front (for KDW she has said this matters. For other markets it might not matter at all!)

Good luck NEXT quarter, I say.


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skadder
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I believe she expects standard manuscript format. She will overlook typos (if not too many) as my story had a bunch.


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MartinV
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quote:
I've a question I haven't seen discussed with respect to WotF, or much anywhere really. As someone who writes in British English, if I submit to WotF, should I tweak my spellings to American English? I worry that if this is required, then won't American readers stumble on idioms or minor grammar differences present in British English?

I might have more problems with this because I mix them without knowing which is which. To me it's all English.


Speaking of Standard Manuscript Format, it's not really that difficult to oblige those that want it.

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mslee/format.html

The only thing I will have trouble with is the paper format. We don't use the 8.5×11 inch format here.

[This message has been edited by MartinV (edited January 20, 2010).]


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BenM
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I don't quite see where the paper stock is defined in the WotF rules though, Martin - I suspect sending in A4 isn't going to be a problem. Though, now that you mention it, if I can get a ream of Letter I might, just for submissions. Also be careful of following MSLee's format exactly - putting your name in the heading of each page as she's recommended will disqualify you.
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tnwilz
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Frankly I've never understood why there is a difference between British English and American English. It's ENGLISH... FROM ENGLAND. How could the American English be the standard. Us Americans don't actually have a language so we nicked yours. Don't let us get away with changing it and calling it the standard for crying out loud. I say write it in real English and let them change it if they feel the need to. Actually I think I may have seen the British spelling of words in some of the anthology stories. Words like Colour and such. I think they may just leave them. That never really throws a reader you know, it just reminds them the author is not American. What do they do in the Harry Potter books? I'm guessing they leave it British.
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KayTi
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quote:
What do they do in the Harry Potter books? I'm guessing they leave it British.

They Americanize it. More than just spellings of colour->color. There are other minor tweaks. There are still british things in the story like calling each other "git" - which I think is something akin to an american kid calling another a jerk. A non-swear exclamation. They also talk about "snogging" (left in the american versions) which here would be called making out. But there are other, more significant changes made. I'm trying to remember where I read this article. I'll post a link if I can find it.

But no, I don't imagine a few authorise and favourites are going to cause KDW any issues.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Because tnwilz isn't Bri-ish.

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tnwilz
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I loved the word Git. "You silly Git" That's what we said to each other all the time, it's friendly ribbing. (Born and raised in England, moved here at 20). Snogging is mild making out and the word itself really only refers to the act of embracing for romantic reasons. I'm really surprised that they changed those books, kind of annoying actually. Are they changing the Twilight books that sell in England? I doubt it.
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MartinV
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quote:
Also be careful of following MSLee's format exactly - putting your name in the heading of each page as she's recommended will disqualify you.

That's why I went through the contest rules on WOTF web page AFTER I read MSLee's page.


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Dark Warrior
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Updated with additional links
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Bent Tree
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Standing Ovation for Dark Warrior. Thank you. I just spent about a half an hour on this thread and I am leaving with a sense of having really learned something that will benefit my writing goals this year. Also I have a deep feeling of motivation.
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Dark Warrior
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Going through crits for WOTF now that I am backed and noticed a few first timers. I thought I would bump this for the 15 or so that are working on their Q2 entry.
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axeminister
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This post single-handedly motivated me to enter in 2Q.
In fact, I plan to enter in each Q I can muster a 50 page story.
This is great motivation to come up with one each time. =)

Axe


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BenM
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I just discovered the wotf youtube channel. Some interviews etc for a little fun.
http://www.youtube.com/writersofthefuture
(courtesy CharityBradford)

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Dark Warrior
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quote:
n fact, I plan to enter in each Q I can muster a 50 page story.

Axeminister, keep in mind the story doesnt have to be that long. KDW said her winner was only 2k words and there have been many shorter entries that have placed and won.

Glad to see you jumping in. If you havent already check out the WOTF Quarterly Group Forums.


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Dark Warrior
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Added info on WOTF word limit under "Story Length"
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Dark Warrior
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Updated with the definition of new category Silver Honorable Mention
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axeminister
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Bump for great justice.
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