Essay Non-Fiction posted December 8, 2014

This work has reached the exceptional level

Fixing Us First

by michaelcahill

Suggestions for improving fanstory Contest Winner 

There are aspects of FanStory that could use some improvement. We've discussed several ideas at length this year. Solutions based on our discussions are already in operation. Voting for our own entries and honorable mentions in site contests are a direct result of forum discussions. The CEC came right out of a heated forum discussion. Whether you are a fan of "the committee", or not, there are no longer sonnets winning haiku contests.
I'd like to address an aspect of FanStory that could use some improvement, which might not receive a great deal of attention, its membership. It is my feeling that the most critical area for improvement is within the membership itself.
I read a lot of discussion about stars and fluff fives and how stars are meaningless. If stars are meaningless then why are they even a point of discussion? How about this: Why don't we make it a point to give helpful honest reviews to pieces we have actually read? I have five disqualifications from contests since the forming of the CEC. Should I take off on a rant against the unfair, uncaring, nitpicking CEC? Well, honestly, I made mistakes and I should have been disqualified. If it is a 5-7-5 contest and one enters a 5-7-6, shouldn't one be disqualified?
What bothers me about my disqualifications are the lovely reviews I received BEFORE I received my notice of disqualification. "This was an excellent entry in the 5-7-5 contest in perfect syllable count as required." Gee, thank you so very much. I would have preferred, "Hey, nice piece, but I thought I'd give you a heads up, your third line is six syllables. Maybe you can fix it before the committee disqualifies you." Is that too much to ask? Isn't that what we should expect from a reviewer?
Speaking of contests, gee whiz, isn't it a terrible thing how boring the prompts are. Golly, it's the same old prompts repeated over and over and over again. WHY can't they come up with something new and challenging?
See what I did there? That's sarcasm. I know the answer, but I'm pretending I don't to make a clever point. There have been numerous contests created by members with a wide array of topics from which to choose. For the most part, only three or four people entered them. BUT, funny animal 5-7-5, ode to Autumn 5-7-5, anything under the sun 5-7-5 … those fill up every time. Now, come clean, you don't really want new and challenging prompts, do you? You just want to TALK about wanting them.
Did someone say contest voting? Oh, yeah … that is where you go to a place called the voting booth and "choose" the piece you liked best and "vote" for it. It would be nice if you read all the pieces first, but we wouldn't want you to feel like you were obligated to be fair or anything like that.
Hey, just for fun, wanna bug the hell out of a fellow writer? Review a contest entry and tell them they have the best entry. THEN … don't vote for them. Hahaha! Heartbreaking! (Heh, heh, heh, give 'em a six!)
I've obviously let this whole thing get to me. The point is, there is a lot of complaining about things that we could fix ourselves. Give honest reviews. Participate in the contests and voting. Stop cheating your fellow writers with meaningless reviews that say nothing. Read the work and give your opinion. It's okay to love a great piece of work by the way. But, it gets suspicious when you love every single piece of work you read.
I think you will find that if we do everything we can do to improve our own participation we will be left with real issues to address. Is it fair to receive fifty cents to review a two thousand word novel chapter when a ten-line poem pays the same thing? That is a real issue. Let's get the nonsense off the table so we can get to that.

Finally, I think it is important to remember what we are attempting to "fix". This is the best writing site to be found anywhere. There is no other site affording a writer the tools that this one does. I am able to get expert one on one instruction here on any number of writing topics. An individual can learn how to write prose or poetry right here for a few bucks a month. You can pen a sonnet, post it and have expert sonneteers go over it line by line critiqueing it and offerring improvements. For God's sake, how broken do you think this is?

Is there room for improvement? Of course. Let's get some perspective and go about improving it. I suggest we start with the easiest fix first, ourselves.
This is a wide-open topic with many aspects. I chose this one.


Writing Prompt
With the dawn of the new image of the fanstory site, are there concerns about it? Are there suggestions for improving the site in connection with rewards points, promotion of writing, votes, writing prompts/contests and all manner of things that you think would make this great writing site even better?
Word count limited to 1000 words or less. Prose only.

Suggestions for improving fanstory
Contest Winner


I am in no way minimizing the concern over the new site format and the problems that came with it. Those are real concerns and I acknowledge it. I'm simply addressing another concern.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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