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"Writers of the Future" Contest ... any experiences from AW?

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small axe

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Here's a link about the Writers of the Future contest ...

http://www.writersofthefuture.com/

(ETA 3-6-11 ... just realized this needed to be updated to the address for their NEW SITE; my apologies for leaving the dead-end link here!)

Sounds cool -- I was wondering if anyone here has entered, or has any experiences or insights (pro or con) about the contest you might like to share?

(ETA ... And it's weird reading my initial questions here, from years back! Since then, I won the ILLUSTRATORS contest (thanks to some of the advice and help offered HERE! So in retrospect, here's advice: KEEP ENTERING. KEEP GROWING. If you keep entering faithfully, two things happen -- 1) YOU get better from the experience, and 2) You're in the game always ... in case the competition ever happens to falter or skip a quarter just one time !)
 
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waylander

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Entered a few times, never got anywhere.
It is a well-regarded contest with top class judges and a number of people who have done well in it have gone on to greater things
 

J. R. Tomlin

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Very highly regarded contest, very highly regarded judges. I entered the past quarter knowing probably I don't have a snowball's chance in hell since I don't write what they like.

The anthology of winners they put out is a best seller every year and the workshop for the winners is supposed to be great.

They have a blog that has hints that I would recommend reading.

Edit: I never heard any cons except that it's a tough contest to win and some people don't like that it was started by L. Ron Hubbard.
 

Redhedd

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I won a couple of years ago. It's definitely a tough contest, but I think it's very much worth entering. The contest administrators do not and will not breathe a word of anything scientology-related during the workshop (they would never be able to get and keep the high-caliber judges that they have if they did.) I definitely think it opens doors, plus the workshop itself (which you get to attend if you win or place as a published finalist) is utterly fantastic.
 

jchines

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I was a winner back in 1999. To this day, I've yet to be paid more for a single short story :) They flew us out to LA for a weeklong workshop with Algis Budrys and Dave Wolverton. (I think Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth do it these days.)

We were mercilessly spoiled, and I learned a lot from the experience. They also go overboard promoting and publicizing the anthology, which can be nice.

Given that established pros are disqualified from entering, I'd strongly recommend it for new writers. Less competition, and all that ;)
 

Storm Dream

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I've always wanted to participate in this, but my short stories...well, they stink. :) It says on the submission sheet that all rights remain with the entrants...this means I'm able to use, say, the characters in the story in a novel later on, right? That was always kind of a big thing for me.
 

J. R. Tomlin

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I think they use the anthology rights for the anthology (or I assume they do) other than that you retain all rights and I understand are free to use the characters OR sell the story itself. In fact, I believe selling the story is highly encouraged.

Edit: And as far as the "pro" part, they pretty much match that to the SFWA rules so you can have sold some work and still be eligible. It's worth checking the rules. While you can't be "established" (good for us who aren't) you don't have to be a totally new writer either.
 
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Redhedd

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It's actually better than the SFWA rules, in a way, since the WOTF rules say that you can't have published more than 3 pro stories or a novel when you submit. So you can have 3 stories or a novel sold and not yet published and still be eligible. (In fact, a winner this year had his first novel come out right at the same time as the WOTF anthology.)
 

blackpen

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I have one of the anthologies

I have one of their anthologies, volume 23 to be exact. The anthology is a compilation of the winning stories. There are some things I noticed about the stories that made it into that particular book:
-it's rather heavy on sci fi. I only saw one story that remotely even dealt with magic/fantasy. there were absolutely no elves, fairies, etc
-it's pretty serious, as in, no humorous or light hearted tone
-two of the stories feature some artist/scientist who committed suicide while performing/creating a final masterpiece because their death was somehow vital to the completion of the project
-a lot of the stories have sociopolitical undertones
-some are hard core sci fi, others made me wonder how it even qualified as sci fi.
-the main characters are usually human
-I liked a couple of the stories, the rest were seriously ... !!!
-by the way in which they summarize each story at the beginning of the book, they like plots that deal with huge WHAT IF...? questions.

of course, this could be a reflection of the entry pool rather than what the judges prefer. also, they have a new panel of judges for each quarter. I heard it's a good contest, but I've also read some critical reviews of the winners and apparently the winning stories are decent, but not absolutely amazing.

I also plan on submitting to this contest, but judging by what has won in the past, I really don't think my kind of writing is what they're looking for. I'll still give it a shot, just so I have something to wait for in the mail.
 

Saanen

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I've read several of the collections to see if I could tailor something to them. My impressions were pretty much the same as blackpen's, except they do occasionally have a lighter piece (it's rare, though).

It seems to be heavily weighted toward SF. Of the four entries of mine that were quarter-finalists, all of them were SF. I also recently found out (woohoo!) that my latest entry is a semi-finalist (though not a finalist) and it's also SF. Of the five stories that didn't reach quarter-finalist, four were fantasy stories and one was just barely SF. Oh, and I've sold all but one of the not quarter-finalists and only one of the quarter-finalist stories. *shrugs*

The only reason I write stories at all, instead of just concentrating on novels, is so I can enter the WotF contest. I want to win. :)
 

MargueriteMing

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One thing I have noticed is most of the winning stories are about more than just plot. The characters generally go through an emotional transformation of some sort, although I have seen a few exceptions to this.
 

small axe

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I just wanted to say Thanks for all the feedback and insights into the contest, it's all been a big help! :)

Since this quarter's contest door is closing soon, Holidays etc, I'm just sending in the shorter (7000 words) thing I already had (but polished up) ... Then I'll start something NEW for next contest.

I haven't gotten a chance to read many of the anthologies from past years ... do any of you who've followed it closer and longer know: Are most of the stories LONGER (as they've seemed to me) or do they use many as short as 7000 words?

I know the contest max is 17,000!

Again, thanks for the info and help!
 

yanallefish

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I tried twice a few years ago, but the niche I seem to have fallen into of late is more fantasy... I have to admit I got shamed at the thought that Larry Niven read a piece of my drivel ... (my words, not his). Haven't submitted since.
 

badducky

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You can't win if you don't play.

Seriously, you folks should be going after this. Worst case, you lost a little postage. That's still cheaper than the lottery, and your odds are much better.
 

Redhedd

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yanallefish, at least 2/3 of the stories in my year were fantasy. Don't let that hold you back! And don't reject your own work! Send it in!

If you're eligible, you should be entering as often as possible. Not only it is very decent money, but you get a trip to someplace cool for a weeklong workshop with Tim Powers, K.D. Wentworth, and a host of other guest instructors and judges. I sat next to Anne McCaffrey at dinner (and only barely managed to not be drooling-fangirl!) Jerry Pournelle came up to me and told me he liked my story. That's a moment I'll remember forever, you can be sure.


Ditto what badducky said: You can't win if you don't play.


Re the judging: I don't think there's a set time for when the judging takes place after the end of each quarter. Basically, the WOTF folks send K.D. Wentworth big boxes of stories on a regular basis, which she then sorts through to figure out what will be non-placers, honorable mentions, semi-finalists, and finalists. The finalists then get sent off to the other judges and the top three are picked. Finally, after the end of the year, the four first place stories get sent back to the judges, and they vote on who should be the grand prize winner.
 

Shadow_Ferret

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You know, the first time I heard of L. Ron Hubbard it was as that crazy Dianetics guy. So in my mind, Writer's of the Future always seemed like some sort of weird off-shoot of Dianetics. I guess I never knew it had anything to do with real speculative fiction or real writers.
 

jchines

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At the week-long workshop, nobody said a word to us about Scientology or Tom Cruise or any of that. As I understand it, the money comes from a separate trust set up by Hubbard, and they work very hard to keep any hint of Scientology from leaking onto the contest.
 

Redhedd

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At the week-long workshop, nobody said a word to us about Scientology or Tom Cruise or any of that. As I understand it, the money comes from a separate trust set up by Hubbard, and they work very hard to keep any hint of Scientology from leaking onto the contest.


In fact, if you ask about Scientology during the workshop, they will carefully and politely tell you that they won't talk about it during the workshop and that you should wait for another time/place to discuss it. They do everything possible to keep it completely separated from the contest.

I didn't enter for six years for the same reason, and I'm still kicking myself for that. :)
 

small axe

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I was Googling things the other night, and I saw several references to a now-successful writer/previous contest winner who had put up his "Workshop notes" about the WOTF contest on a blog, a few comments that seemed to promise insights into "the sort of stories the contest judges are looking for" -- and then everytime I followed a link the site had been taken down!

So ...

1) Does anyone have an idea "What sort of stories win" (either from personal experience, or from reading many of the annual anthologies) ???

and (more generally)

2) Can anyone point us towards where to find some website I've heard about before (but cannot recall its name), which is noted for archiving a vast assortment of OLD WEB PAGES which have since disappeared? Maybe I can find it there?

Thanks!
 

geardrops

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I was Googling things the other night, and I saw several references to a now-successful writer/previous contest winner who had put up his "Workshop notes" about the WOTF contest on a blog, a few comments that seemed to promise insights into "the sort of stories the contest judges are looking for" -- and then everytime I followed a link the site had been taken down!

So ...

1) Does anyone have an idea "What sort of stories win" (either from personal experience, or from reading many of the annual anthologies) ???

and (more generally)

2) Can anyone point us towards where to find some website I've heard about before (but cannot recall its name), which is noted for archiving a vast assortment of OLD WEB PAGES which have since disappeared? Maybe I can find it there?

Thanks!

(1) Scroll up

(2) Here is your Way Back Machine
 

Adam Israel

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I've been lax in getting submissions out, but I'm going to send something in to WotF this quarter. Like badducky said, you can't win if you don't play and all it's going to cost you is the time/materials to print it, the envelope and a stamp.
 

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