Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« on: May 11, 2017, 11:56:11 AM »
Hi everyone,

So it's been several months since the last time we asked for feedback regarding the writing challenges, and we have this new group of members (yay!) so we thought that it would be a good time to get some more feedback on the challenges, particularly with the writing prompts themselves. We'd greatly appreciate it if you guys could take a few minutes and fill out and answer these questions (via a reply to this post).

One thing I'm curious about is whether anyone has any ideas for any new kinds of challenges- like right now, the challenge is to pretty much take the theme/prompt/whatever we give and use it to write a story within 5,000 words, whether literally or as part of a theme in the story. But does anyone have any ideas for a new type of challenge? Like...I don't know...having to use X amount of words within the story or something? Things like that? Just something to give a new spin to the challenges.

Code: [Select]
[b]What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?[/b]
[b]Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?[/b]
[b]Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?[/b]
[b]Do you have any prompt suggestions?[/b]
[b]Do you have any new challenge suggestions?[/b]
[b]Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?[/b]

We'd especially love to get whatever ideas anyone may have for writing prompts that we could use for future challenges.

Looking back at one of the old feedback threads I had made, one of the things I had apparently thought of was prompts for things like "show us a scene that you're proud of because of the dialogue" and "show us a scene that you're proud of because of the description" or something. Is this something people would be interested in participating in? It would basically be a way of showcasing a specific scene that you're proud of and doesn't have to fit a specific prompt, and then get feedback. If you're interested in it, do you have any other ideas for prompts that would work along those lines?

One of the things that's also been a struggle is getting feedback for everyone, whether the writing is specifically for a challenge or just something that's been submitted to the library. I was thinking that maybe we could have some kind of a challenge that's specifically about giving feedback to other members? Like on a forum I used to go to, they have a specific day that's dedicated to giving as much REAL feedback (not just "I really like this, good job!" but real reviews) as possible. Would anyone be interested in this kind of a challenge? If so, do you have any ideas for it?

We appreciate whatever feedback you guys can provide! :) And if you have any other feedback/suggestions beyond what I've written, please feel free to tell us.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 12:04:46 PM by Jedi Knight Muse »

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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GeneBWell

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2017, 12:30:21 PM »
What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
Any! Dealing with all sorts of different prompts helps build those writing muscles and provides good nutrition for the muse.
Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?
I like prompts that are open to interpretation. Then again, specific prompts are good training for things like magazine submissions, which may have very narrow theme restrictions.
Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?
I'd prefer a single prompt, though providing multiple possible interpretations/angles on the prompt for folks to use would be nice. If everyone's picking different themes it would be hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison of their submissions.
Do you have any prompt suggestions?
Not at the moment
Do you have any new challenge suggestions?
Not at the moment
Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?
I'm excited to be taking on my first writing prompt and look forward to many more!

One of the things that's also been a struggle is getting feedback for everyone, whether the writing is specifically for a challenge or just something that's been submitted to the library. I was thinking that maybe we could have some kind of a challenge that's specifically about giving feedback to other members? Like on a forum I used to go to, they have a specific day that's dedicated to giving as much REAL feedback (not just "I really like this, good job!" but real reviews) as possible. Would anyone be interested in this kind of a challenge? If so, do you have any ideas for it?

This may be a bit draconian but an enforced review-to-review-request ratio can help. Forcing folks to give X number of detailed reviews for each Y number of pieces they put up for review is a good two-pronged strategy that ensures lots of feedback and bottlenecks submissions so there's not too many for people to reasonably cope with. Of course, it can lead to people rushing out some quickie reviews just to fill their quota so they can post up their next piece, but that's still more than the none they would have posted before the rule. A review template could help on that front. At least that way you could ensure that some basic review points are touched on before someone can officially 'count' their reviews.

Some toes may be stepped on if this is seriously enforced, but on the other hand I doubt we'd get everyone involved in reviewing if we don't go to those kinds of lengths.

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HSCook

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2017, 12:53:51 PM »
I don't like the idea of a feedback challenge. A feedback day would be great, or a feedback reward system (no idea how this would be done).

A group I'm in has a great system for challenge feedback. Took a while to implement but works great! We have a short story (3000 words)
 and a poetry (30 lines) prompt (ran as two competitions). If you enter, you need to provide feedback to three other entries otherwise your entry is not valid.

They run weekly so should work monthly nicely - maybe have a prompt on the first, submission by the 15th, feedback by the 25th and voting for a week after. Each writer who has entered is given three titles to provide feedback on. With a small group like here, everyone would get lots of feedback this way. It is a bit of work the day after entries close and the day after feedback closes, just making checks but apparently isn't too bad; the group has 20-30 entries at a time.

One thing I would like to see is anonymous submissions (anonymous to the readers), if it's possible. Reveal the authors after the winner is chosen. I'm not suggesting there might be bias now, but it does eliminate any.

I like single prompts and won't enter if I'm really really stuck. Multiple prompts is OK, but not a huge fan. Also, open prompts are good usually. They allow for branching and tenuous connections that are a delight to read.

As for other challenges. How about throwing some of these in?
-Starting line or ending line prompts.
-Flash (less than 500 words) and super flash (50 words or less) competitions.
-The 50 words and 1 challenge (50 words and a closing sentence).
-The 5-7-5 challenge (haikus) or the limerick challenge (this can be extended to any other specific form)

Personally, I'm not a fan of 'share a scene because of x' ideas. Run an excerpt challenge (not a contained story) with the five senses or only description. If someone wants to then enter something they have already written, great, but still leaves scope for new writing.

Just suggestions.

EDIT: I thought of something else we did in out writing group that was loads of fun but really challenging. Either open or themed, we would have a no-dialogue challenge and a dialogue-only challenge. No dialogue means only narrative and no speech of any kind (including telepathic)  to work on building a strong narrative. Dialogue-only was the opposite to create strong, identifiable voices. No narrative was allowed, which includes dialogue tags. The indication of speaker can from structure, voice and good writing. Done well, it could be followed.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 05:31:43 AM by HSCook »
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HSCook

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2017, 12:55:18 PM »
This may be a bit draconian but an enforced review-to-review-request ratio can help. Forcing folks to give X number of detailed reviews for each Y number of pieces they put up for review is a good two-pronged strategy that ensures lots of feedback and bottlenecks submissions so there's not too many for people to reasonably cope with. Of course, it can lead to people rushing out some quickie reviews just to fill their quota so they can post up their next piece, but that's still more than the none they would have posted before the rule.

This is what critique sites like CC and. Scribophile do... Usually three crits work out to a sub.
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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2017, 02:06:04 PM »
What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
Any! Dealing with all sorts of different prompts helps build those writing muscles and provides good nutrition for the muse.
Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?
I like prompts that are open to interpretation. Then again, specific prompts are good training for things like magazine submissions, which may have very narrow theme restrictions.
Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?
I'd prefer a single prompt, though providing multiple possible interpretations/angles on the prompt for folks to use would be nice. If everyone's picking different themes it would be hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison of their submissions.
Do you have any prompt suggestions?
Not at the moment
Do you have any new challenge suggestions?
Not at the moment
Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?
I'm excited to be taking on my first writing prompt and look forward to many more!

One of the things that's also been a struggle is getting feedback for everyone, whether the writing is specifically for a challenge or just something that's been submitted to the library. I was thinking that maybe we could have some kind of a challenge that's specifically about giving feedback to other members? Like on a forum I used to go to, they have a specific day that's dedicated to giving as much REAL feedback (not just "I really like this, good job!" but real reviews) as possible. Would anyone be interested in this kind of a challenge? If so, do you have any ideas for it?

This may be a bit draconian but an enforced review-to-review-request ratio can help. Forcing folks to give X number of detailed reviews for each Y number of pieces they put up for review is a good two-pronged strategy that ensures lots of feedback and bottlenecks submissions so there's not too many for people to reasonably cope with. Of course, it can lead to people rushing out some quickie reviews just to fill their quota so they can post up their next piece, but that's still more than the none they would have posted before the rule. A review template could help on that front. At least that way you could ensure that some basic review points are touched on before someone can officially 'count' their reviews.

Some toes may be stepped on if this is seriously enforced, but on the other hand I doubt we'd get everyone involved in reviewing if we don't go to those kinds of lengths.

Yay, I'm glad you're excited! ^__^

We've actually discussed having an enforced review-to-review request ratio in the past and we've decided against it. In both my experience and the experience of at least one other member that I know of, that kind of thing doesn't tend to work unless you have a small group of REALLY serious writers who can actually commit to giving feedback. (I realize that I'm generalizing and that it has worked on other sites, but those sites tend to be for the REALLY serious writers from what I've seen, where the focus is actually on the critiquing. We're meant to be more of a laid back community where critiquing isn't THE focus like those sites are, it's just one of the focuses.) Plus, I honestly think that if we started implementing that kind of a system, it would scare off a lot of people, especially since not everyone has the time to commit to reviewing X amount of stories. If we were going to do something like that, it would have needed to be from the start of the site, not a year into it, I think.

I don't like the idea of a feedback challenge. A feedback day would be great, or a feedback reward system (no idea how this would be done).

A group I'm in has a great system for challenge feedback. Took a while to implement but works great! We have a short story (3000 words)
 and a poetry (30 lines) prompt (ran as two competitions). If you enter, you need to provide feedback to three other entries otherwise your entry is not valid.

They run weekly so should work monthly nicely - maybe have a prompt on the first, submission by the 15th, feedback by the 25th and voting for a week after. Each writer who has entered is given three titles to provide feedback on. With a small group like here, everyone would get lots of feedback this way. It is a bit of work the day after entries close and the day after feedback closes, just making checks but apparently isn't too bad; the group has 20-30 entries at a time.

One thing I would like to see is anonymous submissions (anonymous to the readers), if it's possible. Reveal the authors after the winner is chosen. I'm not suggesting there might be bias now, but it does eliminate any.

I like single prompts and won't enter if I'm really really stuck. Multiple prompts is OK, but not a huge fan. Also, open prompts are good usually. They allow for branching and tenuous connections that are a delight to read.

As for other challenges. How about throwing some of these in?
-Starting line or ending line prompts.
-Flash (less than 500 words) and super flash (50 words or less) competitions.
-The 50 words and 1 challenge (50 words and a closing sentence).
-The 5-7-5 challenge (haikus) or the limerick challenge (this can be extended to any other specific form)

Personally, I'm not a fan of 'share a scene because of x' ideas. Run an excerpt challenge (not a contained story) with the five senses or only description. If someone wants to then enter something they have already written, great, but still leaves scope for new writing.

Just suggestions.


I do like the idea of having a designated feedback day or some kind of feedback reward system...no idea how it would be implemented either. Right now the only "reward" we have is the signature graphics for the challenges, which is pretty much all that we can offer that's free, unless you or someone else has a suggestion.

Hm. I kind of like the idea of the system that the group you mentioned uses...I just don't know how many people would be turned off by being required to give X amount of feedback in order to keep their entry validated for the challenge. I think it would also bring on more work for us as staff to do that, to have to keep track of which members have submitted and given feedback, which I don't think would be a problem necessarily, but...it's something to at least discuss the idea of, maybe.

The only other thing about that system is that I don't know how many people would like suddenly having to submit their entries in the middle of the month. Originally, when the site first started, we were doing two weeks at a time for the challenges, and then we ended up switching to month long once back in...January? And it's been going well ever since, because it gives people enough time to get something written and edited.

I like your prompt ideas, too.

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GeneBWell

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2017, 02:13:15 PM »
Maybe reward frequent reviewers with custom titles/avatars/sig graphics? And have votes for particularly effective reviewers with even more unique title/avatar/graphics as rewards for the winner? I've seen people go to great lengths to get coveted special titles.

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HSCook

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2017, 02:24:28 PM »
Could make
it three weeks with voting running parallel to the next. I dunno. I'm used to challenges with very tight deadlines (the worst is a series of two day prompts with heats... Mental!) but life is a pain and if people are struggling to write anything in a fortnight then that makes sense.
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Rohierim

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2017, 03:16:13 PM »
What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
I've worked with many types of prompts. Some have been as simple as a single word, all the way to a specific type of character HAS to be in the story. I think it is a matter of some prompts resonating with others better than some. I know I had something written for April because the prompt sprang an idea up right away for me. I didn't submit only because the weekend was taken away from me and I didn't get to finish it and then forgot about it as I was finishing my novel when the deadline was extended for a few days. So far May's has fallen flat for me, but that doesn't mean it won't change before the end of the month.

I've written for the following prompts:

Assassins (Your story must have an assassin in it)
Hath No Fury (Write a story about a bad-ass woman in a medieval setting)
The Death of all things (Death must be a character, like a "LIVING" breathing character. Think Terry Pratchet or Supernatural)

Ideas that can generate more of a flow. But these are what does it for my writing. Some may find that YMMV.

Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?

I think I answered this one kind of with my above response. Go too broad and you get something that no one can really sink their teeth into, go too direct and some people may not like that idea. All a game of chance here.

Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?

For the best chances of people participating multiple prompts would be better.

Do you have any prompt suggestions?

I can try and come up with some. At the moment I don't but that maybe because I'm very tired and have a lot of editing to do this afternoon.

Do you have any new challenge suggestions?

I've got many ideas for challenges that I'd think of doing with other writers. But it all consists of very little difference from what we are doing right now. I've seen challenges similar to a short story a day for a month, a short story a week for a year, a novel a month for three months in a row. All kind of depends on what you want to do as a writer at your current stage. At the moment we are doing a short story a month based on a prompt with no expectation of participation. As you said it is a laid back approach and to be honest I'm not sure we could do much else.

Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?

For a laid back approach to writing challenges this monthly short story prompt is not a bad idea. I know you mentioned about getting more feedback from the readers. I know myself personally I didn't realise we were looking for feedback. I know I voted but didn't really think there was a want for feedback. As for feedback when it comes to the Library itself, for me it is a two edged sword. First, I don't go into the library much. I have a limited amount of time to spend browsing the forums and the Library forces me to log in again. Maybe I should make an effort to log into it more often.

Second comes from me personally that I really only like to give feedback on finished works. By finished I mean word one to the words THE END. Chapters change. Middle chapters read without context will almost always fall flat with me. I've done my fair share of reading novels to give a writer feedback but never until it is finished because I will tell you my opinion on the story as a whole. A pie isn't a pie without all of its pieces.

So if some people are really interested in some dedicated challenges I'm in. If people have some finished works that they want another set of eyes on, I can help if things work out time wise and taste wise. I can definitely see if I have some prompts that I can suggest for future monthly challenges, but to be honest with my tired mind I'm not sure I see much to change from what you are currently doing.

Thanks,

Roh

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Silver

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2017, 06:01:06 PM »
They run weekly so should work monthly nicely - maybe have a prompt on the first, submission by the 15th, feedback by the 25th and voting for a week after. Each writer who has entered is given three titles to provide feedback on. With a small group like here, everyone would get lots of feedback this way. It is a bit of work the day after entries close and the day after feedback closes, just making checks but apparently isn't too bad; the group has 20-30 entries at a time.

I think this is a nice idea in theory. But in practice... I think there's a big risk that it is going to make people stop wanting to post challenge entries. I know that for me, I cannot absolutely commit to being able to review three stories in a set space of time - so therefore, would there be any point in my entering in the first place if I could be 'disqualified' due to personal circumstances?

The other thing that concerns me about making people review is that some people (myself included) are just not good at reviewing. I try and I did review a few pieces before the library went down, but it concerns me that people might look at my brief reviews and decide it isn't good enough or long enough or whatever. I would hate for a situation to develop like that. So that is something we need to keep in mind.

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sapheyerblu

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2017, 07:18:26 PM »
What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
I love all kinds of prompts. Not that I'm very good at making them into actual workable pieces, but...

Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?
I like the more open-ended kind as it's easier to put your own spin on the idea.

Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?
Sometimes it's better to have more than one. Gives everyone a chance to get in the game.

Do you have any prompt suggestions?
Always!!!

Do you have any new challenge suggestions?
Not yet but could try to come up with something.

Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?
No, I'm just having fun being part of the group.

Loved @HSCook ideas. Got a ton of first lines in a notebook, but not sure how many would work in the fantasy genre.

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rkcapps

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2017, 08:10:06 PM »
I like a challenge for the fun of a challenge and would like to read everyone's interpretation of a challenge. I don't feel the need to have my challenge critiqued. I'm not serious about them, I'd rather a review section where we can post a piece we want critiqued whenever we're able. A challenge piece may be "put up" there for critique for anyone who chooses.

I like the suggestion all entries be anonymous although I'm not sure "technically" how to make that happen.

I'd suggest 5000 too much, I do want to enter but I also want to work on my novel. Maybe 1500-2000?

I like to make challenges fun so something like:

Theme: high fantasy
word limit: 2000 words
Difficulty: no elves or dragons

You could throw in something else too.

Of course, happy to go with flow!



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sapheyerblu

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 08:37:04 PM »
5000 is the maximum amount. You can post as few as you want. I did a poem for last month. Don't think I even hit 100 words.

I agree about the anonymous thing and like the idea of a "difficulty" factor.

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CMMai

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2017, 09:37:09 PM »
What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
I am new to this whole writers group thing and in fact i have only just returned to writing. I haven't wrote anything except d&d campaigns for 13 years. So in regards to the writing prompts i do not have a like or dislike yet.

Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?
I think either could be fun.

Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?
I like the idea of options.

Do you have any prompt suggestions?
I have been online reading some ideas.  There is so many to choose from. Think of your greatest strength, write a character that does not have that strength.  I did this for a d&d character but i gave her my worst trait, clumsiness.

Do you have any new challenge suggestions?
There is an idea i like called 3 elements. You give three elements for example an apple tree, a box and a secret. You need to write a story that has these 3 elements in it.

Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?
I think there is a different skill level each of us have some are experienced and some are newbies to writing. With that in mind the higher experienced writers are most likely to win these challenges. But how is one to improve on their writing if no one is willing to help them improve. They could submit 50 entries and never win because there is no feedback. Though i agree feedback is daunting and some people don't want it. Maybe in the entry one could say Feedback: Yes or No.

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2017, 10:04:41 PM »
Maybe reward frequent reviewers with custom titles/avatars/sig graphics? And have votes for particularly effective reviewers with even more unique title/avatar/graphics as rewards for the winner? I've seen people go to great lengths to get coveted special titles.

We could definitely do graphics. Some people may not particularly care about graphics, though, so then we're still kind of lacking in something else that we could offer them...but as long as everyone is fine with us just offering graphics instead of any kind of a prize, we can definitely do graphics for reviewers, I think. I'll talk it over with Silver and Sheepy and see if we can come up with some kind of a system that will make it easy on those reviewing and on us as far as keeping track of reviews goes.

What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
I've worked with many types of prompts. Some have been as simple as a single word, all the way to a specific type of character HAS to be in the story. I think it is a matter of some prompts resonating with others better than some. I know I had something written for April because the prompt sprang an idea up right away for me. I didn't submit only because the weekend was taken away from me and I didn't get to finish it and then forgot about it as I was finishing my novel when the deadline was extended for a few days. So far May's has fallen flat for me, but that doesn't mean it won't change before the end of the month.

I've written for the following prompts:

Assassins (Your story must have an assassin in it)
Hath No Fury (Write a story about a bad-ass woman in a medieval setting)
The Death of all things (Death must be a character, like a "LIVING" breathing character. Think Terry Pratchet or Supernatural)

Ideas that can generate more of a flow. But these are what does it for my writing. Some may find that YMMV.

Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?

I think I answered this one kind of with my above response. Go too broad and you get something that no one can really sink their teeth into, go too direct and some people may not like that idea. All a game of chance here.

Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?

For the best chances of people participating multiple prompts would be better.

Do you have any prompt suggestions?

I can try and come up with some. At the moment I don't but that maybe because I'm very tired and have a lot of editing to do this afternoon.

Do you have any new challenge suggestions?

I've got many ideas for challenges that I'd think of doing with other writers. But it all consists of very little difference from what we are doing right now. I've seen challenges similar to a short story a day for a month, a short story a week for a year, a novel a month for three months in a row. All kind of depends on what you want to do as a writer at your current stage. At the moment we are doing a short story a month based on a prompt with no expectation of participation. As you said it is a laid back approach and to be honest I'm not sure we could do much else.

Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?

For a laid back approach to writing challenges this monthly short story prompt is not a bad idea. I know you mentioned about getting more feedback from the readers. I know myself personally I didn't realise we were looking for feedback. I know I voted but didn't really think there was a want for feedback. As for feedback when it comes to the Library itself, for me it is a two edged sword. First, I don't go into the library much. I have a limited amount of time to spend browsing the forums and the Library forces me to log in again. Maybe I should make an effort to log into it more often.

Second comes from me personally that I really only like to give feedback on finished works. By finished I mean word one to the words THE END. Chapters change. Middle chapters read without context will almost always fall flat with me. I've done my fair share of reading novels to give a writer feedback but never until it is finished because I will tell you my opinion on the story as a whole. A pie isn't a pie without all of its pieces.

So if some people are really interested in some dedicated challenges I'm in. If people have some finished works that they want another set of eyes on, I can help if things work out time wise and taste wise. I can definitely see if I have some prompts that I can suggest for future monthly challenges, but to be honest with my tired mind I'm not sure I see much to change from what you are currently doing.

Thanks,

Roh

Yeah, right now May's challenge has fallen flat for me, too. I mean, I kind of have an idea, but it's nothing I'm in love with and dying to write...I think I kind of screwed myself over in choosing this prompt 'cause I have 0 ideas for it. :P But I suppose that's what'll end up making it a challenge for me.

I really like the examples you gave for prompts, and I'll definitely make note of them to use in the future for challenges.

Quote
Go too broad and you get something that no one can really sink their teeth into, go too direct and some people may not like that idea. All a game of chance here.

Yeah, that's exactly one of the problems we've run into. i.e. the May challenge may be a little too broad for people, which...I'm not that surprised about. But that's also why I said that if we needed to add in a second prompt, we could do so. So far no one's asked for it, so I haven't added one in.

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For the best chances of people participating multiple prompts would be better.

Yeah, that's what I'm finding. But we've also been trying to mix it up a bit, so that it's not always "easy" to just be able to choose one out of four prompts and be able to write something, if that makes sense. I was actually really tempted to give the May challenge more than one prompt and then I decided against it because we just did the one with, essentially, four prompts.

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I can try and come up with some. At the moment I don't but that maybe because I'm very tired and have a lot of editing to do this afternoon.

That would be great if you can come up with some! :) We currently have this post for writing prompt suggestions (which I just realized was locked..I just unlocked it, though, so people can reply with suggestions).

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I've got many ideas for challenges that I'd think of doing with other writers. But it all consists of very little difference from what we are doing right now. I've seen challenges similar to a short story a day for a month, a short story a week for a year, a novel a month for three months in a row. All kind of depends on what you want to do as a writer at your current stage. At the moment we are doing a short story a month based on a prompt with no expectation of participation. As you said it is a laid back approach and to be honest I'm not sure we could do much else.

Hm. A short story a day challenge could be interesting (and actually, there's a website I found and posted a link to recently that's basically for that exact thing for the month of May, and I said that we could possibly try doing our own version of it if people were interested). I'm not sure that a novel a month would be something that anyone could commit to. I plan on holding our own version of NaNo at some point. And actually, I have no idea how this would actually work because I've never tried it before, but I've had the idea of doing some kind of a world building challenge...it MIGHT include having to write a short story of some kind, but mostly it would be a challenge focused on world building and figuring out information about your world. I'd be curious to know if there would be any interest in this kind of thing, and if anyone had any ideas for it, but I think it'd be better for a different discussion thread, maybe. There's a lot of logistics that would have to be figured out with it, too.
 
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For a laid back approach to writing challenges this monthly short story prompt is not a bad idea. I know you mentioned about getting more feedback from the readers. I know myself personally I didn't realise we were looking for feedback. I know I voted but didn't really think there was a want for feedback. As for feedback when it comes to the Library itself, for me it is a two edged sword. First, I don't go into the library much. I have a limited amount of time to spend browsing the forums and the Library forces me to log in again. Maybe I should make an effort to log into it more often.

Okay, so here's the thing regarding the library...it doesn't exist at the moment! This post goes into more details, but basically, I screwed up and canceled the hosting that the old library was on because I didn't want the host to have any more of my money, and wasn't even thinking about the fact that the library was still being hosted there. Our developer, @Xyem is currently working on building us a custom built library site for us that will have way more features than the other one did AND you won't have to register/log in to a separate account any more, because you'll be logging in to the same account that you're using on the forum. I'm hoping that he'll have it ready for submissions soon.

The April challenge is a bad example of being able to give feedback for writing challenges, because the library disappeared before anyone was able to use the old library to read and give feedback, but in the past, we've absolutely been giving feedback to submissions into the library, regardless of whether or not it's a challenge submission. Obviously if the author says "I'm not looking for feedback" and they just want to showcase the story in the library, that's one thing, but otherwise we've still been giving feedback, and we encourage that to continue.

I know for me, the only things I've recently been putting into the (now temporarily non-existent library) since...December, basically, have been writing challenge entries. They've been things involving my characters from my current project, but they're just side stories that have helped me develop them further. I don't mind getting general feedback on those things because I enjoyed writing the challenge entries, but I'm not particularly worried about feedback for them because they're PROBABLY not anything that I'd plan on editing/submitting to, like, a short story contest for a prize or something. I'm still working on the first draft of my current project and am probably not going to submit anything from it to the new library, at least not right away since I'm no where close to being done with it. I might post excerpts, but that's about it.

If one of the members submits a challenge entry and says "I'm not really looking for feedback" in the author's note, then that's your queue to know that they're not looking for feedback, which is totally fine. But we're not going to say "you shouldn't give challenge entries any feedback," because that's kinda ridiculous. A library submission is a library submission, you know? I hope that makes sense.

So, sadly right now you can't make an effort to log into the library more often, 'cause it doesn't exist at the moment, and we only have the forum section for submissions at the moment. But hopefully that will change soon and we'll be able to use the brand new Librarium (aka the new library).

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Second comes from me personally that I really only like to give feedback on finished works. By finished I mean word one to the words THE END. Chapters change. Middle chapters read without context will almost always fall flat with me. I've done my fair share of reading novels to give a writer feedback but never until it is finished because I will tell you my opinion on the story as a whole. A pie isn't a pie without all of its pieces.

Totally understandable and reasonable. For me, I mean...I like being able to give feedback as a writer progresses through a story, because then I can maybe give them feedback that will help them fill in a plot hole, or it'll give them a new idea to add into the story that they weren't already thinking of. That's why I don't mind posting drafts as I'm writing them (except for with this current project...I've posted the side story challenge entries, but outside of a few of those challenge entries basically being part of the story anyway (because I basically ended up deciding to expand on one of the challenge entries I wrote back in the summer and turned it into an idea for a full novel, but I'm waiting until I have way more completed chapters to post that don't say "add more here"), because then I can get feedback on things that I might not realize need to be changed, or I can get an idea for something that I may not be thinking about.

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I can definitely see if I have some prompts that I can suggest for future monthly challenges, but to be honest with my tired mind I'm not sure I see much to change from what you are currently doing.

Honestly, pretty much any prompts that would fit the fantasy genre would be fine at this point, no matter what the actual prompt is or how different it is from the prompts we've had in the past, because @Silver and @Sheepy-Pie and I have been wracking our brains to come up with prompts, but we haven't come up with tons of them, so whatever suggestions you have would be great. I will say that one of our most successful challenge prompts that got like...seven or eight entries I think was "write about a fight/duel." It seemed to really inspire people, because it was specific in that it had to be about a fight/duel, but it was still open ended. We ended up getting some great entries for that one.

I wrote too much. :P Continued in the next reply.

Storms of Magic - Draft 1



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Re: Monthly writing challenge feedback - please read/reply
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2017, 10:04:55 PM »
They run weekly so should work monthly nicely - maybe have a prompt on the first, submission by the 15th, feedback by the 25th and voting for a week after. Each writer who has entered is given three titles to provide feedback on. With a small group like here, everyone would get lots of feedback this way. It is a bit of work the day after entries close and the day after feedback closes, just making checks but apparently isn't too bad; the group has 20-30 entries at a time.

I think this is a nice idea in theory. But in practice... I think there's a big risk that it is going to make people stop wanting to post challenge entries. I know that for me, I cannot absolutely commit to being able to review three stories in a set space of time - so therefore, would there be any point in my entering in the first place if I could be 'disqualified' due to personal circumstances?

The other thing that concerns me about making people review is that some people (myself included) are just not good at reviewing. I try and I did review a few pieces before the library went down, but it concerns me that people might look at my brief reviews and decide it isn't good enough or long enough or whatever. I would hate for a situation to develop like that. So that is something we need to keep in mind.

Yeah, I agree with @Silver about this. And like I said earlier, I really don't think that requiring a ratio of reviews to be met would work. I remember trying to enforce that kind of thing several years ago on one of my first forums for writers that I ran and it just didn't work. It was one of the reasons the site ended up closing, I think. And I also agree with your point about how not everyone is good at reviewing. I wouldn't want to enforce a rule that's going to make people uncomfortable because they're not good at writing reviews.

What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
I love all kinds of prompts. Not that I'm very good at making them into actual workable pieces, but...

Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?
I like the more open-ended kind as it's easier to put your own spin on the idea.

Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?
Sometimes it's better to have more than one. Gives everyone a chance to get in the game.

Do you have any prompt suggestions?
Always!!!

Do you have any new challenge suggestions?
Not yet but could try to come up with something.

Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?
No, I'm just having fun being part of the group.

Loved @HSCook ideas. Got a ton of first lines in a notebook, but not sure how many would work in the fantasy genre.

Yeah, I hear you. I'm usually not that great at responding to prompts...like, on my own, I can't seem to respond to prompts that well. I have tons and tons and tons of them in my idea journals, and outside of for purposes such as this site, have I responded to any of them? Nope.

I also agree about having more than one prompt. Like I said above, we've been trying to change it up a bit and not ALWAYS have more than one prompt to respond to for each challenge, but...I think at the very least, at least for a little while, we could try maybe sticking to two prompts to choose from that are hopefully open ended and easy to respond to.

We'd love to see what ideas you have for more prompts, if you wanna reply to this post with them.

I like a challenge for the fun of a challenge and would like to read everyone's interpretation of a challenge. I don't feel the need to have my challenge critiqued. I'm not serious about them, I'd rather a review section where we can post a piece we want critiqued whenever we're able. A challenge piece may be "put up" there for critique for anyone who chooses.

I like the suggestion all entries be anonymous although I'm not sure "technically" how to make that happen.

I'd suggest 5000 too much, I do want to enter but I also want to work on my novel. Maybe 1500-2000?

I like to make challenges fun so something like:

Theme: high fantasy
word limit: 2000 words
Difficulty: no elves or dragons

You could throw in something else too.

Of course, happy to go with flow!


Like I said way above, there won't be a forum section (at least, not for long. Right now we have a temporary one because of the fiasco from me canceling the old hosting), it'll be a library. Think of it as being something along the lines of Fictionpress, or Wattpad, in terms of its set up and features (more so like Wattpad, I think, than Fictionpress). The submissions will be submitted only onto the new Librarium site, as will the reviews, but there will be an in-line review feature, meaning that you can scroll through the story and give your thoughts as you read it, rather than having to read the entire story and then write your review.

I forgot to respond to this sooner, I think, but as far as anonymous submissions for the challenges...there's no reason for that? We've gone nearly a year with the authors being known and we haven't had any issues. I'm not sure why there would be a need to have the submissions be anonymous, honestly. The only way I could see that needing to happen is if we figured out that there was cheating going on with the voting or something.

5000 is the maximum amount. You can post as few as you want. I did a poem for last month. Don't think I even hit 100 words.

I agree about the anonymous thing and like the idea of a "difficulty" factor.

Yeah, technically we have no rules saying that poetry isn't allowed, although that's mainly because I, at least, never expected anyone to actually submit any poetry to one of the challenges (or to the library at all). That doesn't mean you can't submit poetry, of course, since there's no current rule regarding it. But if people want to write poetry and submit it for the challenge, I say go for it.

What kinds of writing prompts do you usually like?
I am new to this whole writers group thing and in fact i have only just returned to writing. I haven't wrote anything except d&d campaigns for 13 years. So in regards to the writing prompts i do not have a like or dislike yet.

Do you like more open ended prompts, or do you prefer more specific prompts?
I think either could be fun.

Do you like it when there's more than one prompt to choose from, or do you prefer one prompt?
I like the idea of options.

Do you have any prompt suggestions?
I have been online reading some ideas.  There is so many to choose from. Think of your greatest strength, write a character that does not have that strength.  I did this for a d&d character but i gave her my worst trait, clumsiness.

Do you have any new challenge suggestions?
There is an idea i like called 3 elements. You give three elements for example an apple tree, a box and a secret. You need to write a story that has these 3 elements in it.

Any other feedback you'd like to give regarding the challenges?
I think there is a different skill level each of us have some are experienced and some are newbies to writing. With that in mind the higher experienced writers are most likely to win these challenges. But how is one to improve on their writing if no one is willing to help them improve. They could submit 50 entries and never win because there is no feedback. Though i agree feedback is daunting and some people don't want it. Maybe in the entry one could say Feedback: Yes or No.

Yeah, I've seen prompts like the one you mentioned before. It could be fun to do that kind of thing in the future. Usually when we give more than one prompt it has to just be ONE of the X amount of prompts, but having to include ALL of them would be interesting to do.

Yeah, I agree with you about the different levels of writing. One of my worries with the submissions, regardless of whether it's a challenge entry or just a regular library submission, is that if someone who's newer to writing submits something and they don't get any feedback, they'll be scared off from wanting to submit anything more to the library and will just stop coming onto the site altogether. I think there are probably at least a few people that that applies to. That's one of the reasons I want to encourage people to give feedback, but I can't force them into doing it, and I'm strongly against enforcing a ratio rule because I think it would scare even more people off.

Storms of Magic - Draft 1