"Literary Maneuvers" Coffee Shop - Page 53


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Thread: "Literary Maneuvers" Coffee Shop

  1. #521
    Member Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Having done this a few times now, I see a lot value in the categories that we have in the Scoring Guideline. Another way to think about it would be mechanics (SPaG), style (T&V), and craft (Effect). At the time I began doing the LM Challenge, thinking about the story I wrote as I wrote it from this scoring perspective did not help. What did help (tremendously!) was using this guideline in thinking about other people's stories as I read them. Once I did that, I found I then began to be more careful / thoughtful about some of the choices I made in the new stories I wrote. Because it was so helpful, I am highly in favor of keeping our present scoring guidelines.



    Back in March I had some further thoughts that explored the structure of our writing submissions from the perspective of what our present scroing guidelines provide and proposed that 15 points reflect a (more-or-less) unbiased approached and that the remaining 5 points be reserved for our subjective opinion. It looks like this would be helpful in this present conversation, so I've reposted it here:


    Here are our current judging guidelines (in blue):
    1. Spelling and Grammar (SPaG): Based on a scale
    from 1 - 5
    Unformatted / Illegible / Consistent errors / minor errors / Grammatically flawless

    2. Tone and Voice: Based on a scale of 1 - 5

    No style / uninteresting tone / inconsistent tone / Strong tone / Perfectly fitting or unique style and technique.

    3. Effect: Based on a scale of 1 - 10
    You to decide: How did the story touch you? Consider the theme connection. Provide a brief review of the story as well. See previous score threads for examples of this. Understand this competition is about fun, so have a good time with it.



    & Here Is My Proposal:
    Okay, so here are my thoughts. Beginning with SPaG & T&V. If SPaG is consistent, it more or less results in a consistent T&V. T&V is further influenced by word choice, pov, repetition, etc. So while SPaG focuses on the mechanical, T&V is getting more into craft & use. As such, I've noticed in the judging feedback that SPaG & T&V tend to result in fairly consistent scores across the board. This leads me to believe these are fairly unbiased categories.

    I propose splitting Effect (How we are moved) into two categories. Here's my reasoning:

    3A. Effect (evaluation): 1-5 Consider the theme connection. Provide a brief review of the story as well.
    This asks the judge to write a synopsis in his own words about what's written on the page. Sure, there is some interpretive subjectivity here, but it's limited. I propose also thinking of this as, 'what is the effect of all of the elements--SPaG, T&V--working together in concert? Is it harmonious? Or, does the conclusion not follow?' It's a question of evaluating the story's internal consistency. And I think this is already the case here; I'm just separating the scoring schema on structure from the reactive element so that the reader (& writer) may get better picture of how well all the pieces fit together as a whole.

    3B. Effect (reaction): 1-5 How did the story touch you? Understand this competition is about fun, so have a good time with it.
    To me, this should be the only purely reactive element, where we share how it moved us and what our opinion was of the piece.

    I think that by splitting the Effect into two subcategories we can give better, positive criticism/feedback that focuses a bit more strongly on how well the piece stands on its own merits than on the judges' preferences. Also, limiting the judges' purely subjective responses to its own category, I think it helps unmuddy the waters for both writer and judge in what the judge really thought about the piece. It adds clarity.
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd


  2. #522
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Pearson View Post
    Having done this a few times now, I see a lot value in the categories that we have in the Scoring Guideline. Another way to think about it would be mechanics (SPaG), style (T&V), and craft (Effect). A[SNIP].
    I sense the problem is scoring those categories accurately is only part of the puzzle. If the whole point of this is to help people improve, isn't it more important to explain the reasoning behind the scores?

    What value is it to a writer to see they got a 3/5 in something as vague as 'Tone & Voice' or 'effect' if the judge doesn't then explain clearly what it was about the tone & voice that led them to that score? I don't think there is any. And IMO it isn't fair to expect judges to explain three different scores (never mind more than three...) for as many as ten different pieces of work.

    It's not really about revamping the judging guide, either. That's fine, but the issue is with the system and unintended consequences: Making the scoring system simpler and quicker to execute on will make judging far more attractive to people like me who don't have time to analyze all these different stories at that kind of depth. I would be more inclined to judge if I could worry less about disseminating my thoughts into scores and more about communicating to the writer my immediate reactions as to what I think worked vs what didn't. Kind of like what a reader, agent, or publisher would.

    So...a simpler scoring system (one score - Overall Rating) will make it easier to recruit judges, which will probably make the whole thing better. Better recruitment of judges and you could then have a bigger panel...with more feedback. There's no reason four has to be 'a full slate'. Have ten judges. Who wouldn't like ten different opinions on their story?
    Last edited by luckyscars; June 5th, 2019 at 06:34 AM.

  3. #523
    Maybe i'm the only one, but i like the current format.

    I find the SPaG section particularly useful as i have never formally learnt grammar, relying on intuition instead. Comma splices and punctuation around quotations are just some of things the judges have pointed out to me.

  4. #524
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Pearson View Post
    If SPaG is consistent, it more or less results in a consistent T&V.
    Does it???


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  5. #525
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    So...a simpler scoring system (one score - Overall Rating) will make it easier to recruit judges, which will probably make the whole thing better. Better recruitment of judges and you could then have a bigger panel...with more feedback. There's no reason four has to be 'a full slate'. Have ten judges. Who wouldn't like ten different opinions on their story?
    Surely this is the way to go. When I judged I wasn't confident enough to criticise other people's spag issues. There were mistakes that I wasn't sure were mistakes. I thought maybe I shouldn't have volunteered.

    As an avid reader surely I can judge as a reader, not a schoolmaster. I can still say I'm marking someone down because their SPaG was tripping me up. As someone said earlier, if a story's boring as hell but perfectly written they could guarantee themselves 15 points.

    As I also said about my own winning story in the May comp, there's less chance of me tripping up, SPaG-wise, with such a short story and a judge could understandably deduct points for that if there was one overall reader's rating.

    And yes, nothing wrong with ten judges - I'm sure that would shrink to 5 or 6 by Scores time.

    Oh, finally when I judged, that month had been anonymous and I was a bit surprised at who-wrote-what at exposure time. I do think my scores would have been slightly kinder to some if I'd known. Not fair, I know. But I didn't realise until I saw the names responsible. I do think there's a difference in the confidence of the reader if he/she/it is familiar with the author.

  6. #526
    To summarise, I'm seeing three different options presented:

    1) Leave the LM judging as is
    2) split effect into two subsections - evaluation, and reaction
    3) one score - overall rating
    4) Placements: 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd

    Give me a nudge if there's any that I missed but I do rather feel a poll coming on! All seem to suggest additional explanation of why the score is what it is, which is sound, though let's have a little more discussion about it for the time being. We can always pilot the different ways of doing it, to see how they fly. Just to add my view in: one think I always have to consider is, what workload does it add? I find if something becomes more labour intensive I may be less inclined to engage with it. Just something to think about.
    Last edited by bdcharles; June 5th, 2019 at 05:08 PM.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  7. #527
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Does it???
    First I heard of it.

    I just had a story sent back to me 'accepted subject to revisions' by a publisher for their yearly anthology, telling me they loved the story though wanted a slightly different ending (yeuch) and needed me to address 'a few' spag issues. There were literally forty-seven instances of bad spag in the six thousand words that somehow slipped through three self-edits. Yet this not only did not deter them but they kept talking about how much they liked the 'feel' of the piece. This leads me to conclude that while SPaG is important, it's not a dealbreaker if there are issues so long as the story itself is sufficiently strong.

    I think what Meagan means is that poor SPaG can take the reader 'out' of the story by acting as a distraction or otherwise annoying the reader. Of course that's true, but it's got nothing to do with TaV really.

  8. #528
    Quote Originally Posted by Fatclub View Post
    Oh, finally when I judged, that month had been anonymous and I was a bit surprised at who-wrote-what at exposure time. I do think my scores would have been slightly kinder to some if I'd known. Not fair, I know. But I didn't realise until I saw the names responsible. I do think there's a difference in the confidence of the reader if he/she/it is familiar with the author.
    This is an interesting point and I'm sure it's bedevilled many an online writing comp. How to avoid upscoring your friends, or whatever. Question to you, Fatclub - why would knowing have affected your score? What went through your mind when you saw these stories by unknown authors. Did you downscore them, or might your score have been more unbiased and level with what you read anonymously?


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  9. #529
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    So...a simpler scoring system (one score - Overall Rating) will make it easier to recruit judges, which will probably make the whole thing better. Better recruitment of judges and you could then have a bigger panel...with more feedback. There's no reason four has to be 'a full slate'. Have ten judges. Who wouldn't like ten different opinions on their story?

    This can only come from someone who has never run an LM here. I would have to beg to find judges, trade with other members who ran LMs to judge for them, if they would judge for me. Send out tons of requests asking for help. I nominate Lucky to be the next organizer of any contest here on the site.

    Much of your suggestions are meaningless until you've done the job. While I appreciate your enthusiasm, it is like taking parenting advice from someone who has never raised children. For all those who offer suggestions, I hope to see you listed as judges for any of the next contests.


    There is an always be a human factor in judging something that is subjective. There will never be clear lines or consistent responses to any creative process, or we we all love the same art work, the same book and even the same woman. Bring your thoughts and actions to the next organizer, volunteer to help judge, work with the organizer on the frame work.


    The hardest part of running any LM is finding the judges, not running the contest.

  10. #530
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    This is an interesting point and I'm sure it's bedevilled many an online writing comp. How to avoid upscoring your friends, or whatever. Question to you, Fatclub - why would knowing have affected your score? What went through your mind when you saw these stories by unknown authors. Did you downscore them, or might your score have been more unbiased and level with what you read anonymously?
    Maybe it wouldn't have. Though maybe it would, and also affected my comments as well as my scoring. For instance, if I'm giving someone a low mark like 3/20 (which I did) I maybe wouldn't if I'd read a few good pieces by them in this forum. I probably would have upped the score a bit and been less brutal with my comments because they would have been more real/familiar and deserving of my emotional care. I think my attitude would have been colder when seeing an authors name I'm not familiar with. Also if someone's given me plenty of likes, thanks, compliments, and feel-good vibes, I would have to be a robot for this not to have an even subliminal effect.

    I think in a lot of the 'arts', critics are kinder to people they are already fans of. I see this in film reviews, book reviews, music, etc.

    Another thing, as I've mentioned before, is if three judges marks everyone between 14 and sixteen for, say, ten stories, then the fourth judge can decide the winner and loser by giving 1/20 for the worst and 20/20 for best. Which is why I'd like scores for placements (though to repeat - I like the overall score-thing too).

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