RiaR : A suggestion

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Ballistichimp » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:37 am

So the RiaR voting window for this month closes at the end of this week (I AM going to vote, even if my eyes start bleeding from all the screen staring) and the thorny subject of voting once again comes to the fore.

I can't help but feel that while the proliferation of entries is an awesome, awesome thing, it does provide something of a stumbling block for people who don't follow it daily.

As it stands at the moment there is something like 33000 words (give or take) to read there to get properly up to speed, digest, hopefully comment on and finally vote.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is bigger than your average Black Library novella and with real life, comes real life responsibilities.

Case in point - Raz.

He entered, but withdrew his story because he felt that he would not have time to properly read and do justice to the many, many entries and (like me) believes that if you enter the competition then you have a sportsman's obligation to vote.

Question is, curbing creativity is not exactly a good thing on a forum that is dedicated to the fandom of writing in general and Black Library in particular.

At its inception the extra points scheme for abundant RiaR entries was a great idea.

Now I'm wondering if limiting entries would be something worth considering.

Discuss!
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Tyrant » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:23 am

Option:

Perhaps those who post multiple entries could nominate one of them that they think is the best, and that one is the only one that is included in the voting.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby coydna » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:33 am

I'm up for that^

Before voting begins those with multiple entries delete those they feel were the weakest of their bunch, leaving one per participant.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Tyrant » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:40 am

Well, deleting them is drastic! Leave them there for people to read if they wish, just edit the posts at the top to say that this one is/is not a voting entry.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby coydna » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:46 am

Ah, apologies. I should have added moving them to the 40k/WFB fanfic area under the bracket of unsubmitted RiaR entries. Noting the entry is probably a shed load easier though...
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby J D Dunsany » Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:43 pm

I must admit I've been taken aback by the sheer volume of the last two months' entries. When I proposed the additional votes, I'd imagined them more as an exception than the rule. I'm open to suggestions, though. I've been resistant to the idea of limits to entries, but there are practical considerations, too. If there are so many entries that it deters voting and entering, it's a bit self-defeating, isn't it?

I'm not going to make a decision just yet, but, as I said, I'm open to suggestions. If anyone else has any ideas or opinions, feel free to post 'em!

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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby LordLucan » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:26 pm

I oppose any idea of actually actively deleting stories, as that just isn't on, but a shortlist could work.


Perhaps two threads, a mass story thread, then a shortlist thread of nominated stories (need at least two votes to get to the shortlist perhaps?), followed by a voting thread eventually?
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Pyroriffic » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:48 pm

Perhaps just start by limiting it to one entry per poster per competition. Then after the competition is over, people can post up their others as well.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby coydna » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:13 am

Another option is virtual knife fights to see which poster gets to keep their extra stories... :lol: :shock:
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Raziel4707 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:18 pm

Another possibility might be to reconsider the complexity of the prompt.

While the single word prompt has long given us a massive degree of mental fodder and has resulted in some truly fantastic writing, perhaps it might be possible to give us something a bit more complex to work with. Perhaps a prompt sentence or concept, or a sort of "Dave is a cannibal philanthropist, lost in the wilds of ASDA and armed only with a pointy stick and an elderly lettuce, when a Khornate Berzerker comes flitting into the building on beautiful fairy wings. Write me Dave's story in 900-1100 words," or similar.

If all the high jumpers are leaping over the bar, they make it higher. or the opposite if it's limbo. Duck hunting? They'd use smaller ducks or arm everyone with mass-reactive apples instead of rifles, or something. I think we're adept enough at the current format to make it harder for us. Giving us a brief, the way that a publisher or even BL themselves might give one to a writer, might be fodder that will suit us without making too many restrictive changes to the current competition guidelines. It would also be an excellent technical exercise.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby J D Dunsany » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:26 pm

Some very good - and thought-provoking - ideas.

Raz's idea makes a lot of sense, although I think his (humourous - I hope!) example is too prescriptive. One of the reasons I like the one-word 'prompt' is that it can apply to both 40K and WHF settings. Another reason is that it's a heck of a lot of fun seeing how creative people can be with it. I think most writers enjoy the freedom to interpret the prompt however they wish and I'd be reluctant to curb that freedom too much.

I am concerned, however, that we tend to write in a rush at the moment. Another possibility is to put the prompt word up but on a closed thread that doesn't open until a few days later. It gives people the chance to hone their stories and make them as good as they can be. Coupled with a limit to entries per writer, this might have the effect of 'raising the bar' that Raz mentioned in his earlier post. That said, I've been thinking about refining the prompt for a while, making it a little more precise. I'll post some more coherent thoughts on this later.

I am leaning more towards the one (or possibly two) story limit, tbh. I'll have a proper think about it over the next day or so. This week's been a bit busy.

Keep the ideas coming, though. I'm interested in everyone's opinion. :)

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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Stuart000X » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:55 pm

Perhaps there should be two threads for each competition. One for the stories to be placed in, and another to hold reviews of those stories, thus making the process of reading the stories and trolling through the pages a less mindnumbing experience. I would say that 2/3s of the threads are consumed with idle chatter and story reivews, than the stories themselves.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Ballistichimp » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:07 pm

If cornered I would venture ...

Single word prompts are great because they leave you huge scope to play around with and I would hate to see that go. As JDD said, they can be nicely applied to any and all of the many Warhammer verses. I also agree that removing entries is not really a way forward - if folk want to write then they should write. RiaR has been the spontaneous and instantaneous inspiration for many a work of literary funkitude.

The brain mash comes when you take a few days off the Bolthole to engage with the issues of reality and return to find a great pile of (not unpleasant) text that (I and I'm sure others) feel very much obliged to carefully read and digest if I am to enter and subsequently vote.

While we may write in a rush we certainly (as JDD has observed) don't read in a rush.

Which is weird given that it's the title of the competition ...

Rambling aside, and rather than complicate matters with multiple threads, I'm liking the self nomination idea the best. Write as many entries as you like so as not to compromise on creativity, but when the competition closes have a few days grace period to decide which of your entries you would like to put forward for voting (this could be extended to two entries if there was a quiet month).

That's my thoughts on the matter anyway!

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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby J D Dunsany » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:02 pm

Some further thoughts and a proposal.

The idea of writers putting forward a 'best' story (or stories) for voting is an interesting one. It will perhaps have the effect of making initial reaction to stories quite significant in terms of the influence it may potentially have on writers' nomination decisions. But it's a good idea - if the writers are up for it. I suppose it could raise the question of 'why should I write more than one story if I can only put forward one?' I suspect we'll see a drop in entries. Whether we see a commensurate rise in quality (not that the quality's shabby at the moment) remains to be seen.

The 'nomination' process would add a further round to the RiaR process that might prove a deterrent to potential writers. That said, we don't really need three weeks for writing anyway.

Here's the proposal:

A typical RiaR 'month' would look something like this.

Week 0. (There's a reason this isn't week 1. Bear with me.) Voting on the previous month's RiaR takes place. About half way through that week, the theme for next month's RiaR is announced on a closed thread along with a date when the thread will be opened and posting can begin.

Week 1. The writing thread opens. This thread will also provide a space for comment (sorry, Stu, but I've never liked separate comment threads for stories). The posting window is two weeks.

Week 2. The posting thread remains open. Writers can post as many stories as they jolly well like. Comment accrues. Writers should begin to have a decent idea as to which stories are 'working' better than others.

Week 3. The period for posting closes, but the thread remains open for comment. Nominations are sent to me (or whoever's running the comp) via PM by the writers. (I really don't want to have a second thread just for nominations. It's neater this way.)

Week 4. The voting thread appears with a full list of writers' nominated stories, listed in order of their original appearance on the writing thread. (Another possibility would be to cut and paste stories over from the writing thread to the voting thread, which, tbh, I really don't mind doing.) Voting starts. (About half way through the week, the title of the next month's competition is announced in its own closed thread.) Voting ends. A winner is crowned; celebrations are held; the story is enshrined on the winners' thread. All is well with the world.

The above, I think, will work. I'm open to comments, but they need to be reasonably quick, because I'm inclined to run with this next comp. (Which will start in a couple of days' time.)

Regards,

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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Stuart000X » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:16 am

I like the ideas that you have listed J D. They add new elements to this veteran competition that might refresh it a little, perhaps even adding new dimensions.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Eremite » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:41 am

I'd like to say that I'm 100% with Ballistichimp on keeping one/two word prompts. The simplicity allows us to be really inventive and creative - the more prohibitive the theme, the less imaginative the entries are likely to be. I'm sure my (usually rather left-field) ideas would be stiffled a bit.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Squiggle » Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:31 pm

I've got to be honest, I had this discussion with Ballistichimp at BLL! ... and I am basically put off entering because I know I dont have time to read all the entries n vote.

So anything that means I have maybe only ten thousand words to read in a month instead of thirty is a good thing! :D
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Stuart000X » Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:35 pm

I think the setup suggested by J D on the "Shattered Dream" thread is a good one, helping to resolve some of the issues.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby Phalanx » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:10 am

I actually commented on this quite some time ago on the old board. I only entered RiaR once, and then promptly pulled out of any future involvement, as it was quite literally just being bombarded by a few people who just submitted piece after piece after piece.

I did offer my suggestions then in a PM to JDD saying pretty much the same thing. It's put me off entering the competition and in actual fact, has made me very shy to even post up my work in a non-competitive environment now, which I am slightly upset by as I do want to put my work up for people to see.
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Re: RiaR : A suggestion

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:57 pm

Phalanx wrote:I actually commented on this quite some time ago on the old board. I only entered RiaR once, and then promptly pulled out of any future involvement, as it was quite literally just being bombarded by a few people who just submitted piece after piece after piece.

I did offer my suggestions then in a PM to JDD saying pretty much the same thing. It's put me off entering the competition and in actual fact, has made me very shy to even post up my work in a non-competitive environment now, which I am slightly upset by as I do want to put my work up for people to see.


Well, the last thing the competition is designed to do is discourage people from writing. I must admit that my instincts have always been laissez-faire as regards the organisation of the competition, so I can only apologise that it's taken me as long as it has to do something about a concern that has been raised on a number of occasions over the last few months. When you contacted me, Phalanx, I was very much working on the assumption that the 'Cold' competition was an exception in terms of entries. Looking back with hindsight, it seems fairly obvious that making more votes available just encourages more entries - which leads to a rather onerous task for people who might want to vote. In fact, it's blindingly obvious, really. :roll:

We'll see how the proposal above works out. We may well still have people submitting multiple entries, but somehow I doubt it. I strongly suspect that the 'nomination' period will become unnecessary, but we shall see. What would be good is if the RiaR comp became in truth what I've always wanted it to be - namely an inclusive (and, given Phalanx's comments above, non-intimidating) showcase of the rather phenomenal writing talents of the members of the board. It's already that to a certain extent, but limiting the number of entries eligible for voting to just one will, I hope, encourage us to raise our game even more.

A couple of minor random points worth mentioning:

I'm still inclined to keep the votes available to four, if no one has any deep-seated objections.

Entries that appear on the writing thread but aren't nominated for voting will still be considered for potential future anthologies.

I've extended the word count 'window' to 850-1150. Hope that's okay with everyone.

There's only one more day left for voting on the last comp on the old boards.

All the best!

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