Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted March 30, 2009


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A Letter to Fanstorians

A Modest Proposal

by Mrs. KT


With apologies to Jonathan Swift

Dear Fellow Fanstorians:

I love to write. 

In fact, I love writing more than I love teaching, shopping, or sucking the insides out of a Cadbury Creme Egg when no one is looking. 

I do not believe that my affinity for writing has become an addiction quite yet.  However, my husband of nearly thirty years has gently accused me, on more than one occasion, of "counting syllables" while I sleep.

Along with writing, I also love to challenge my writing skills by exploring new poetic formats and entering writing contests. (I like to think both activities keep my mind sharp and my "syllable counting fingers" nimble!)

So far, so good.

I know I am on safe ground in sharing with all of you the above-mentioned reasons as to why my beloved husband and two cats often have to fend for themselves while I spend countless hours at my computer writing, editing, reading, and reviewing the work of my fellow writers on Fanstory. 

But, my real reason for taking you away from your own writing, editing, and reviewing is simply this: I often experience a rather uncomfortable problem when it comes to contests on Fanstory. 

No, not the contests themselves. I fully embrace the spirit and intent of the contests, and I am honored to have won my own fair share of those I have entered since joining this extraordinary and gifted community of writers in 2007.  The contests continue to be challenging and engaging, and there is a wide selection from which to choose.

No, my problem has to do with reviewing Member Contests - particularly, the Daily Writing Prompt Contests that have become so popular this year.

THE PROBLEM:

A.  An interesting Member Contest/Daily Writing Prompt Contest is posted on the site.
 
B.  I enter said contest.
 
C.  A number of my fellow writers also enter the same contest.
 
D.  The deadline is reached, and the Voting Booth is opened.
 
E.  I eagerly read my fellow writers' entries.
 
F.  As I read the other entries, I am constantly amazed at the creativity and artistry demonstrated by my fellow contestants.
 
G. Sometimes, however, as I continue to read said entries, I find a number of technical, grammatical, or punctuation errors in the entries. 
 
H. To my dismay, oftentimes, no other reviewers have mentioned any of these technical snafus to the writers in their reviews even when the format, structure, or syllabic count, etc, has clearly missed its mark, AND
 
I.  To make matters worse, perhaps the contestants who have erred are winning said contest when I check the Voting Booth.
 
J. I now find myself in a huge quandary:

1. If I write a private message to the writer(s), pointing out the cited irregularities, I am, essentially, going against the standard contest protocol of no communication between and/or among contestants on Fanstory during the duration of said contest.
 
2. If I point out the technical error(s) in a review and assign my fellow writer(s) a rating of 3 or 4 while the Voting Booth is open, am I doing my fellow writer(s) a welcomed service, or am I jeopardizing their chances of winning the contest by seemingly putting a negative assessment on their writing?

3. Most importantly, if I point out the technical error(s) in my review, will the writer(s) and/or fellow reviewers see this as arrogance on my part, or worse yet, a public ploy to garner votes for my own contest entry in order to make my fellow writers' writing appear less worthy of a vote?
 
4.  Additionally, if I promote the work I have entered in a contest while the Voting Booth is open, does this action appear one of self-aggrandizement?

PROPOSAL: 

A.  In order to make the voting playing field as level as possible when it comes to Member Created Contests/Daily Writing Prompt Contests, I propose that no writer entered into said contest be allowed to WRITE A REVIEW of said fellow contestants' entries until AFTER the contest voting is completed.
 
B.  In addition, all contestants are encouraged and expected to register a vote in the Voting Booth, BUT they are to do so anonymously.

C.  No reviews of submitted contest work by contestants and no personal messaging until after the contest voting is completed would be the standard rule of Member Contests - especially the Daily Prompt Writing Contests.


Now, maybe the above subject matter is only my problem, and if it is, I am sure I will be informed expeditiously. (Just so you know, I respond well to kindness and chocolate.) 

However, if the above discussion is an area of concern that is shared by many members of our writing community, perhaps this is a situation that needs to be addressed by the administrators of the site and remedied. 

If nothing else, know for a certainty that I shall continue to enter contests on the site.  Furthermore, I shall continue to read all of the entries of said contests, and I will place my vote.  However, I am going to refrain from reviewing the work of fellow contestants until after the contest has been concluded.

Until we meet again, keep writing, keep posting, keep entering contests, keep voting, and please remember to feed your cats...and your husband, if you so choose!

As ever, 

Mrs. KT



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