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Bringing Back Iron Pen

Discussion in 'Ask the Staff' started by ThinkerX, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Silverquill? That's the first thing that came to my mind.
     
  2. pischtoph

    pischtoph Acolyte

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    Blood Quill or swillquill


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  3. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Okay, so since we're talking about specifically Iron Pen the reboot, ThinkerX, will you be consistently doing this exact format and on a monthly basis? My reason for seeking clarity is that I am probably at a point where I could run challenges every couple months, and I too have been sitting on ideas and inspiration, wondering whether they would find competitors. If I know what you are planning, I could alternatively run my own ideas from time to time and avoid stepping on your toes. I know that we've never really had a traffic jam that caused issues with simultaneous challenges, in that challenges of different formats and rules tend to appeal to different kinds of competitors (say, one is the score-dependent Iron Pen, and another idea may be like: write a story about this given subject and vote for your best with "thanks"). Anyways, like I said, I would consider running a few challenges this spring, just to again encourage the community to recapture the spirit of friendly competition and encouragement we've allowed to wane. But I don't want challenge hosts to feel in competition for participants. If we had some way to communicate a sort of tentative schedule, we might try to coordinate in some way, so we can support each other. I know one of the things I liked least about running a challenge was that I couldn't play the game. I'd love to be more active again in the challenges section, and as you're a consistent contestant as well, I'd love to have multiple hosts rotating and passing the baton, so we veteran frequenters of the challenge forum can play as much as we work ;)
     
  4. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Maybe we could trade off months? I wouldn't mind hosting challenges either.
     
  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Caged - tell you what. I'll PM you the list of prompts a day or two in advance to check on possible conflicts. The technical items shouldn't be an issue.

    Alternate months? I remember we sometimes had two or three challenges going at the same time in the past. I suppose it'll depend on their nature.

    I might have to put in for Mod powers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Thanks, yeah, I wasn't concerned with the subjects, really, as there's always room for repeating, but I meant that if you were doing it say, the first week of every month, I'd hold off until the third to post a new challenge or whatever. I know some folks in the past have mentioned how they were already in one challenge and couldn't take on a second. I just want to give the challenge section a chance to grow and thrive again, without overburdening the new folks who I hope to inspire, not overwhelm. :)

    Anyways, I'd love to just be in communication so we can get the challenges rolling again! I'll do the same for you, since you've stepped up to the plate to host challenges. If I do any big ones, I'll confirm with you that the timing is good so we aren't posting in the same week or something. Give folks a chance to breathe between fast and hard writing weeks, you know.
     
  7. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I'd love to see an Iron Pen-esque challenge come back! With my schedule, I can't currently run a challenge but I could participate in some and judge others. (It feels odd to offer to judge, since I am not really qualified but I'm willing if I'm needed for it).

    I came up with one of my favorite stories for Iron Pen and the feedback turned it into a quality piece. The Paint a Thousand Word challenges were immensely helpful as well! The word count restriction exposed the flaws in my writing and really led to improvement.

    Some thoughts.

    Maybe we should get away from synonyms for Iron Pen and call it something more separate, like Writer of the Month, or Mythic Scribe of the Month.

    If the site admin may want to do an anthology in future, I agree that it should be separate from the contest and, at a later date, the site admin can reach out to winners of one or multiple contests for permission to publish and that way the contests are free of that pressure. Basically, nothing in the contest(s) will be published without asking for and receiving written permission.

    Perhaps the first thread that could go up could be prompt submissions. ThinkerX, or whoever is running it that month, could choose the best three and add one of his own or something similar. It might be a cool way to get more people involved because many will follow the challenge even if they can't participate for lack of time and there might be more interest if simply submitting a prompt idea could make you a part of it. The person running the challenge could specify a theme to keep the prompts more doable but they wouldn't have to. And if your prompt is chosen, you could still participate. I don't think it would create an unfair advantage because everyone would have the same chance.

    If the challenges kept going into next year, I would happily run some of them as I will be done with my journey back through college by then!
     
    Devor likes this.
  8. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    IMHO consistent challenges would be a great idea, but having a monthly challenge with full fledge short stories, that's a ton of work.

    From my experience with writing groups, it can take me anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour to critique a 1000 words, so if a story was 5k, that can turn into a part-time job.

    I don't want to be the one dragging in the icy fire hose, but I think if you want to start a consistent challenge up and have it continue, you should start small first. Instead of having it be monthly, have it be quarterly or bi-annually. That way it doesn't burn anyone out, and it makes it a somewhat special event.

    As for anthologies and rights and fundraising, maybe set that aside for now. Get the challenge up an running consistently before worrying about that. Walk before you run, right?

    I'm part of the article team here on Mythic Scirbes, and I was going to do something as an example in my next article that I think might work for starting up a new challenge.

    I was going to do a section on scene design, where I was going to take a large list of plot elements and character information and show how one could design a short scene that naturally incorporates every singly plot element and all the character information.

    I was going to try and do this with 500 words.

    For the purposes of this challenge maybe 500-1000 words would work, with maybe 750 being a good splitting the difference starting point. Maybe there's bonus points for being able to do the challenge in the fewest words.

    I think this would be a good starting point because for starters, each piece will be small, so easier on the judges. Also because of this, it'll encourage people to participate. And finally it's a skill builder, forcing people to really think about their word choices, and understand what's really fat and what's not.

    Writing, editing, and judging 5k story is a big chunk to bite off. Writing, editing, and judging 500 word scene/story is a nice digestible size, hopefully nobody chokes on.

    my 2 cents
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
    Devor likes this.
  9. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    I don't disagree that a 5000 word story is a lot to write and judge and it definitely wouldn't have to be a monthly contest but I think a challenge to write a 1000 word story and one to write 5000 words are very different. They really should be different contests IMO. What if there were three months with a 1000 word contest and then the fourth month would have a 5000 word contest that would be announced early enough? They could be related or separate.
     
  10. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    As someone who ran 6 months of a challenge, I'll add some perspective.

    At the peak of the Paint a Thousand Words challenge, I had near a dozen entries in one month. While thrilled the challenge was being so well received, it turned out to be a great deal of work. Considering I try to be as detailed and thorough in reviewing and grading submissions as possible, I'd reckon each review took me 1 to 1 1/2 hours to complete. Further, those were all stories of 1,000 words or less. If we're talking 5k word stories (which was the upper limit of Iron Pen) and 12 entries, that's reviewing and grading a novel-sized work every entry period. That's a ton of work for one person to take on repeatedly.

    Now, to be blunt. We have many writers of varying ability and experience. That is good for this community and it is good for any challenge. Seeing regular contributors grow and mature as writers is especially rewarding to a challenge host. However, anyone who runs a challenge needs to be aware that not all submissions will be well written. Not all entries will be engaging. Some of that may come down to personal taste, but most depends on the skill and experience of the entrant. At times, judging can feel a tedious chore. I don't say this to demean the contributors, but rather, to shift perspective.

    Reading stories that need a lot of work and revision, for months on end, can start to feel like a burden. That was my experience and it's one reason I put Paint a Thousand Words on hold...well, that and I needed to knock the novel's draft out. Yes, it was a time sink, but it also developed into a chore. And, as I mentioned before, it was also rewarding. Still, considering my experience, I feel the idea of rotating the challenge host is a solid one. That should alleviate host burnout as well as keep the challenge fresh.

    Another consideration, from a different angle. Contributors only want to hear a judge like me talk about multi-layered description, "to be" verbs, & passive voice for so long. After a time, it may feel repetitive and myopic. A rotation of pre-scheduled hosts would help keep things fresh for all involved.
     
    Letharg, Steerpike and Devor like this.
  11. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I don't have much new to say other than that I joined the site to participate in some challenges, and since I did Legendary Sidekicks jerk challenge there haven't been any more :(

    I would love to participate. I'm with Nimue though, on that publication scares me. I'm trying to focus most of my energy on Blackbeard, but I would love to do challenges to stretch myself and take risks.
     
  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I don't care about an anthology. Consider it dropped.

    I agree with some of the others, I think rotating hosts is a really important idea. I'm super-glad that ThinkerX brought this thread up and wants to do this. I just think it's better if he doesn't have to do it alone just because Ankari did. We can get more scribes chipping in and keep it going and growing for the long haul.

    Silver Quill and names like it remind me too much of Iron Pen. I think a bigger break would be a good idea. How about: Scribe Battles.
     
  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Unless somebody comes up with something better, the name I'm leaning towards now is:

    'Top Scribe'

    I'll probably post the opening thread Friday, with a deadline before Easter.
     
  14. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Battle of the Bards?
     
  15. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    'Battle of the Bards' sounds more like a musical than a writing competition.
     
    Ireth likes this.
  16. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Scribal wars
    War of the words
    Mythic battles
     
  17. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Seem a bit militant to me.

    'Scribal Wars' could work. Not keen on it, but...

    'War of the Words' - nah. Sounds almost like the word games my daughter plays.

    'Mythic Battles' lacks the writing element.
     
  18. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    He's an idea I just want to throw out there.

    The only other forum that I spend any time at is a site called Hearthpwn, a fan site for Blizzard's Hearthstone game. They have a weekly "Fan Card Creation" challenge, and the winner gets to:

    - Pick the theme for a future challenge

    - Have their card hosted in a winners thread

    - Put their avatar in a cool frame to show off their victory

    [​IMG]


    I think we could do all three. The winner could pitch in the details for a future prompt. We could start a winners-story thread (because some people just want to see and read the winners). And a custom winners' avatar frame wouldn't be too hard to come up with. If we can't get a resident artist to volunteer, we could commission one for maybe about $30.

    Anyways, I just thought I'd put that out there.
     
  19. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I like those ideas, especially the avatar frame.

    Also, I'd like to thank ThinkerX for bringing this topic to the fore. The challenges here have been successful & it's a feature many members love.

    ThinkerX,
    Even if we do something like rotating hosts for each submission period, would you be willing and available to run the contest overall & take the host role for any periods where a guest host is unavailable?

    The reason I ask comes from my experience as a host trying to recruit judges every month. That was near impossible considering I tried to recruit mainly from established & long term members. I can't help but think that, on occasion, we'll run into the same issue with hosts.
     
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Another option, to take some load off of judges, is that everyone who enters the challenge has to read and comment on the other entries, then vote via PM. That's the way I ran them on another site and it worked well.
     

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