Scores: Literary Maneuvers March 2019 - Page 4


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Thread: Scores: Literary Maneuvers March 2019

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Pearson View Post
    Hey, an idea. What if we identified the genre of the piece and include it with the word count? Ex.: (640 words, Horror)

    Maybe that would help orient the reader before reading, perhaps making it easier for the reader to connect with the story? It might make the prompt more evident, even when not directly stated. I know there've been a few stories I've read previously here that I had to read again, simply for the reason I misjudged from the opening sentence what the piece would be about.

    Besides, we generally expect to know the genre of a piece before reading anyway. Why should the competition be different?
    Quote Originally Posted by SueC View Post
    Megan, I like that idea a lot. The creativity is really exploding here and it would also be helpful for the judges, too. While there may sometimes be difficulty in identifying a genre, something along those lines would be very helpful. Good job you!
    i enjoy the diversity of stories and storytelling styles associated with this challenge.
    i also see it as a personal writing challenge as opposed to a competion with other writers
    overseen by judges simulating conventional submissions processes.
    judging is really challenging.
    i want this to be a fun experience and writer feedback opportunity.
    having started there,
    i like the solution orientation megan brings.
    there are several threads discussing aspects of genre and changes to genre.
    i like the limited keyword approach extending title and word count.
    perhaps title, word count, genre goal, direct/indirect/literal/symbolic(abstract) incorporation of prompt
    would assist a judge.

    if i were to submit -schubert sherbet- 475wd, slipstream, symbolic
    would that have provided a more comfortable context for the judges?


    one may assume that toward traditional publishing pathways
    is not my development path/goal.
    i am committed to modifying toward better readership experience.
    i never want a reader to frame incomprehensible as their shortcoming,
    that's on me as a writer.
    as bazz said,
    if not committed as a judge,
    he'd not have pushed through <my submission>.
    sometimes, that should be feedback to me.

  2. #32
    While I don't think it's fair to place the entirety of the burden upon the writer--I have read wonderful stories only to balk at their received reviews; sometimes, it's the reader who isn't up to snuff, despite this being an uncomfortable truth many are poo-pooed from ever expressing--I think an identification system prior to the beginning of one's story would streamline the entire process and rid away a lot of confusion, making the LMs more enjoyable for everybody involved. Judging isn't an easy task, either, and can be an exceptionally boring one if you're spending time not only reviewing a piece, but scratching your noggin trying to figure out just what the hell the writer is/was getting at. We have a word count of 650 for the stories. What if we allowed, say, a 25 word count genre introduction? Or writer's notice at the end? Example A might look as follows:

    [Title]

    "Introduction" (<--the 25-word counter): Horror. Adult themes. Experimental. Unreliable narrator."

    [Body of text then follows.]

    But seeing as this ruins the potential of a well-devised surprise, Example B might be more appealing by allowing the writer one last chance to sink in their teeth:

    [Title]

    [Body of text]

    "Author's Note." [<-- 25 words or less, ye voluble cretins (own self included)]. I intended a horror piece with this one, and tried to use this month's theme in the symoblic importance of the character's bodacious booty."


    Or something along those lines. My two pennies. Using emojis in either your introduction or addendum docks you an immediate two points and activates latent GPS systems that I might drive by your house and throw tomatoes at your window.

  3. #33
    Having to explain the meaning of a joke is its death knell. If every comedian were allowed to briefly explain a joke, they would never have to work on making the meaning clear in the delivery to as many people as possible (or a few like minded people, if that is their intention). I

  4. #34
    Grrrr. I had a great answer Ibb, then my puter locked up and it was gone. I'll try again.

    Basically, I said that when I review general fiction or a workshop entry, I really appreciate some words prior to reading the story. Was this your first try? Is this it, or is it part of a bigger project? What did you have in mind? Things like that are so helpful.

    As someone who has judged, and especially recently, I would have loved a word or two from the entrants to know what they were thinking of. For myself, I am trying to be a little edgier in my writing and don't always know if I hit the mark, so to have the opportunity to say that up front might be helpful to everyone who reads it, judges or critiques included.

    Here your example, in my mind - LOL!

    [Title] . . . Prompt - Wonder Woman Returns (not a real prompt)

    [Body of text]

    "Author's Note."
    My main character is a guy, but don't be fooled! The prompt is there, I promise. Think Allegory or Metaphor. It's your job to find it now

    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  5. #35
    Right! If the Powers That Be don't mind it, I don't see how a concluding author statement would hurt. It would of course be optional and not something of which everybody needs to partake. Personally? I wouldn't do it. I agree with epimetheus in that respect; but given that the standard LM is a vehicle to improve one's craft, and not an arena in which it's literary life or death, I think it could be a helpful tool for those writers who are trying to improve, hoping to land the mark, and twiddling their thumbs while waiting for scores to arrive. If presented the option to describe at end the object of their writing, the judges would thus be better equipped to identify the needs of the writer and provide complimentary feedback. But then it comes back down to how the community perceives the LM overall. I view this as competition and enjoy duking it out. A concluding author statement could be seen as undue additional commentary providing an unfair advantage. So. Blah. Who knows. I'll continue to scribble my own entries and watch from the background.

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Ibb View Post
    We have a word count of 650 for the stories. What if we allowed, say, a 25 word count genre introduction? Or writer's notice at the end?
    Because both of those things are extraneous to the story (if they are not extraneous to the story they should be included in the word count of the story and contextualized as part of the story) and it is entirely unfair for a story-writing contest to be influenced by factors that are not within The Story.

    It's unfair because then it becomes not a matter of how well something is written but how well something is explained. It does not always follow that a story that can be easily prefaced is better than one that is a real struggle.

    For example, if I wrote a story inspired by something that was incredibly personal to me - say a relative dying. It might be very difficult, impossible even, for me to explain what the story means in any way that makes sense. I may well not even know. It could still be a great story. On the other hand I could write a story that is incredibly basic, rather uninspired even, but as long as it 'checks the boxes' suddenly I am achieving an advantage that I don't necessarily deserve over work that is better.

    Explaining a story is not our business as writers, that's the business of critics and literary theorists. All kinds of garbage in the world can be made to seem meaningful if the creator is given the soapbox on which to stand. But that defeats the purpose entirely.

    LM may be there to improve craft rather than 'life and death' but it is nonetheless supposed to be challenging and reflect 'real writing' in some way. I'd argue that allowing writers, novice or not, to include something they would not be able to include in 'the real world' isn't helpful.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  7. #37
    I understand what you are saying, LS. If we were to employ judges who had a wealth of experience in all manner of writing, I would say you are absolutely correct . . . "allowing writers, novice or not, to include something they would not be able to include in 'the real world' isn't helpful."

    But we are not using such judges. We are using writers who may or may not be confined to a certain style, who may or may not have any experience in understanding a style of writing that is unfamiliar to that which they use themselves. Having said that, I would support any useful tool available to help a reader understand such particular writing styles - Because our judges do not have a laundry list of experiences or encounters in alternative writing styles that they have been involved in judging. We are just regular folks who love the written word, and try our best to find the secrets hidden in the prose of others.

    It seems every month, there is always a little bit of a challenge to get judges. Maybe it's just my perception, but if that is the case, I think this would be a helpful tool to encourage more novice writers to fill the judging spots.


    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  8. #38
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ibb View Post
    While I don't think it's fair to place the entirety of the burden upon the writer--I have read wonderful stories only to balk at their received reviews; sometimes, it's the reader who isn't up to snuff, despite this being an uncomfortable truth many are poo-pooed from ever expressing--I think an identification system prior to the beginning of one's story would streamline the entire process and rid away a lot of confusion, making the LMs more enjoyable for everybody involved.
    Me too... there are some really good stories here and I think we owe it to our fellow participants to provide the best reviews we can.

    Here is something I have been thinking about but really didn't think I would have an opportunity to share for quite some time (seeing as I'm new and have only participated in the LM challenges twice and as a judge once). But perhaps now is a good time to mention it?

    As a Toastmasters member, I had to learn how to give good, critical feedback to our speakers that was structure oriented rather than content driven. In this I learned how to listen better, and give positive criticism, to some rather poor speeches. What I found as we focused the speech's structure was that, on whatever the topic of the speech, the speakers always improved. It also taught me to respect a speech despite my opinions about the speech. So, this is some of the thought behind what I'd like to bring to table here.

    Here are our current judging guidelines (abbreviated) for comparison:
    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.


    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.

    However, we all have our opinions, and this really shows up under Effect. I propose splitting Effect 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.

    By the way, we also used The Sandwhich Method for Critique: Say something good, say something critical/helpful, say something good.
    It shows respect for our fellow peers as we learn through this together and is helpful to the person receiving the critique.

    Maybe some of these thoughts will be helpful to consider even if they are not formally adopted by the LM Challenge.
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd


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