Discussion about Story Challenges

Now that the first story challenge is almost over (the final standings will be revealed next Wednesday, 15th of May) I’d like to start a discussion about what you liked, what you didn’t, and what we could improve.

I’d like to start with a few questions for which I’d like to hear your opinions about:

  1. The time span to enter stories. On the first challenge, this was 5 weeks. It felt like an eternity to me, but on the other hand, especially in the last couple of days, stories kept pouring in. I thought about shortening the time to 3 weeks, but I’m not sure about that. What do you think?

  2. For this challenge, the only reward is, that the top 5 stories will get a special listing (check this out next Wednesday). Since it had been hinted at in Discord, that there should be a real prize attached, I could imaging doing like 2 challenges per year where the top 5 actually would receive a tangible award. The question is how to finance this, but I guess that can be decided if it’s time. First I’d like to know if you think that this would be a good idea.

  3. The score the final standings are based on (which will also be displayed next Wednesday) is calculated like this:

    • The weighted average of each of the 5 rating categories: 17.5% each
    • The total number of rating given for a story: 8.8%
    • The number of “likes” (clicks on “Favourite”) a story got: 3.5%
      Since the weighted ratings for the categories are usually tied VERY closely together, the “liked” count already has a huge impact!
  4. Here’s a list of themes for the next challenge I picked up from this thread. Check out that thread if you want to know more about these ideas. No specific order:

    • “Breaking Stereotypes”
    • “The Pandemic” (or aftermath)
    • “Dystopia”
    • “Reality Check” (see here)
    • “Supernatural” (a summary of some of these ideas)
    • “Author Parody” (see here)

Other ideas were a bit too specific and more suitable for single story or series, but not for a whole challenge. You have to leave some room for your own idea, fetishes and way of mind control / transformation.

Please let me know which of these themes you’d like to see next. All new ideas are also welcome.

My thoughts

Limit entries to 1 per author
These challenges are good for encouraging new writers but they shouldn’t be a dump for any ol’ bunch of stories you want to fling at the wall to see what might ‘stick’.
One decent entry per author.

When the Contest is open, wait about 7~10 days before the early submissions appear, then have them all appear at once
I remember finishing my story and not wanting to be first/second out of the blocks, all on my lonesome.
Also, holding back may help stop early submitters, accidentally influencing the interpretation of the challenge for later submitters.
i.e., an author might write a story to fit the challenge, then see 2 stories already submitted.
He reads them and thinks “oh, that’s what the challenge means? I better delete this and start again” and he goes and writes a clone of the mere two examples of the challenge interpretations, thinking that’s what was expected of all submissions.

It’ll be much better having suddenly 5,6,7,8 stories suddenly revealed as a broader spread of interpretations of the challenge, and touch wood, if people are freaks and actually enjoy reading and rating the stories (like me), it gives then a ‘pool’ of stories to crack on with on “the big day 7~10 reveal” rather then in isolated dribs-and-drabs over the first few days.
It’s harder to fairly and consistently rate one individual story for a challenge in this context too.

Finally, This is more general idea:

Sometimes, have challenges that coincide with yearly holidays, not every holiday, every year, but some holidays, some years.
Like have a Halloween challenge where the theme is horror/supernatural; a Christmas challenge where the theme is gifts or Christmas itself: or, a Valentine’s challenge where the theme is love.


One more thing to add is a question/clarification: for these challenges is the intent only to submit a new story, or can you submit one of your pre-existing stories? I think this should be made clear just in case as I feel the challenges should be encouraging creativity, not recycling.

Giving a month helps keep the whole challenge from being rushed, especially for people who want to participate but who may have very busy lives. A 4 or 5 week time period seems appropriate.

I concur with the idea of not revealing the initial releases right away until a week into the event, so that writers don’t get altered by a follow-the-leader type mentality with regards to interpreting the prompt

Some people may want a physical reward, some do it just for the bragging rights or as a mark of self-accomplishment. I would suggest asking the broader writing audience what they would prefer before making such a decision.

The idea of more challenges in the future, each to different themes, is very exciting. There are some categories I would write in, others I would not. Having these themes rotate would also be useful for long-term generation of themed stories.

Technically, you can’t submit an older, existing story into the challenge.

I won’t keep you from using one of your older stories, maybe improve it a bit, and resubmit it for a challenge.

However, this might not be exactly fair, especially if that story happens to be a well known classic.

I liked the concept to be sure, but I thought some of the stories submitted were a bit of a stretch. I guess the challenge title was pretty broad - there are a lot of things for it to have been the first time of - but sometimes I just got the feeling that people were shoehorning the concept of “first time” into a story that didn’t really fit. However, I’m not opposed to more challenges in the future.

Hi , I really love the challenge, even if I didn’t get the time to.qrote any of the two ideas I had for it -_-"

As for the topics here is my opinion:
1.- The time span for submitting looks fine for me. But I also think the stories should be posted after a while to avoid influence other authors.

2.- I think the only fair way to get actual prices will be with a cost for submitting, but I don’t think many people like the idea. So, the idea of promotion as a price sounds good to me. Maybe have some type of hall of fame for the winner’s?

3.- The calculation of the score sounds good, but I think it also should include a calculation of views. Personally when I post a story one of the numbers I usually track is the total of views and unique views of registered authors to know how much the people got interested in it. So one calculation for this two view values could be good.

4.- I like the ideas, especially the reality check and authors parody. And I also add Story Fanfic (? Sorry is the only name I could think). The idea is that sometimes we love a story but at some point it didn’t go as we would like it (for example the final of Slave Academy where a lot of people want a different one). So in this category you name the original story give a summary of the events and start from the point in the story you would like to.change and add an extra of what will happen after that. (Returning to the example, “Todd is conquering the Academy, he already enslaved some guys, including his brother whit mindcontrol ability like him or Nathan. Now Nathan, after free Joe will face his cousin into a final battle for the freedom of their minds… then Nathan win, he stop todd and brainwash him to stop the enslavement of the school. But what Nathan doesn’t know is that Dylan still follows his brother commands. A new Todd develop a crush for Joe and after an emotional talk with dylan he offer his power. Without a warning Todd, Dylan take over Joe and escape without giving Nathan time to react.”). I don’t know if other authors would like the idea, but I don’t lose anything by telling ^ ^ (also, i just create the example, so may be rushed but I think exemplifies the idea, and I like the original dark ending XD)

Hehehehe. Had to add another comment saying I absolutely like the concept of author parody. As long as someone’s willing to parody me. I’m easy!

“You can’t submit an older, existing story”
I agree, that is good. This contest should be encouraging new stories and creativity. And it looks like it did. This makes me excited for the next one.

Hey Martin, thanks for running the challenge. It was interesting, cause I ended up writing a story I probably wouldn’t have written otherwise. Here’s my opinions:

  1. Time span - I liked having a few weeks to write. I wrote a story for the challenge – Never Had I Ever – and ended up deciding that it didn’t really fit the theme, so I went and wrote another. If it had been more rushed, I don’t know that I would have managed an entry.

  2. Rewards - I don’t think I need awards. If I managed to win a challenge, I think I’d be happy with the special listing.

  3. How they’re scored - that seems fair enough. I don’t know. You could score them almost any way, and as long as it’s consistent and transparent, I don’t see having a problem.

  4. I like ‘Breaking Stereotypes’, ‘The Pandemic’, and ‘Author Parody’ a lot. That said, I’ve already done one pandemic story, and I’ve got another in progress, so I might be biased there.

On some of the other ideas in the thread:

  • Limit of one per author: I fundamentally don’t care about this, but if we do limit, I hope you’ll let us swap out stories. I’d hate to feel like I couldn’t take a second better swing at the topic if I come up with something hotter.

  • Wait a bit before showing stories: I don’t like this. It’s challenging enough to keep up with reading the stories, dumping the first weeks in a big block makes it feel like there’s a backlog to get through. I didn’t manage to read all the stories this challenge, and I don’t know why we’d make it harder.

@firesix - here’s how I’d start a parody of you: “He had long blond hair. Sure, you didn’t see many baseball players with flowing locks, but he refused to give them up.”

I agree with Derek in basically everything he said here, especially the bit about a potential backlog of stories. I feel as though if stories are only released after a certain period of time, people will be a lot less likely to read each individual one, and I think the site thrives on stories being uploaded on an as-they-come basis (rather than sites like mcstories, that dump stories once a week or so).

Also, I like the parody. Ugh, I miss baseball so much.

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Author Parody is an interesting idea, but I’d have a few reservations about going with it.:

  • It seems geared towards those who are most familiar not just with this site but with its most prolific contributors. The previous challenge attracted a number of first-time submissions that were fun to read, but this seems to place a requirement of “know another author’s work and style”.
  • Would the stories be judged based on how well-received they are by readers or how well they imitate the target author’s style? Is there even a good way to judge them on the second point?
  • Should there be a stipulation that all parodies must be respectful to the author in question? Otherwise, there could potentially be some hurt feelings where one persons “parody” is another person’s “mocking”.

I’m curious about the reliance on the numbers and ranking as the sole method of determining “winners.” Don’t we often have the trouble where “likes” tend to mean “you mentioned my particular fetish” rather than “you’re award-winning material?” I wonder if likes could get you a certain distance, say to a qualifying round, and then a panel of judges makes the decision from there in the smaller group of entries. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a popular writer with a lock on a particularly vocal fetish group dominating each time, which seems against the philosophy of the site. Just a thought.

Actually the same is true for any rating.

If a story fits your kinks and presses your buttons, you’re likely to rate it higher.

I guess that’s the way it is. With any kind of creative work, by the way. So for me it’s important that any author understands that if he doesn’t get too many readers or only mediocre ratings, it could just be that he’s writing for a smaller niche - which is fine. It’s always a balance, I like to award good stories, but I don’t want to discourage authors who are not overly popular with their work.

That’s why I’ll never openly show the score for all stories or even give the complete list of ratings. Only the top 5 are shown, if you’re not among them, you could still be on any rank from 6 to 46 :slight_smile:

I think it works pretty well, honestly, just wondered if it skews contests. I’ve never really paid attention to the numbers–for me, it’s all about the written comments–but I like that they’re there.

Or at least done with the author’s permission. I mean, I expect someone parodying me would pair a 90-year-old with a teen on their 18th birthday (or however young the author chooses to go). Some people might consider that disrespectful, but I’d be fine with that, even expecting it, because I can’t deny that most of what I write is about older with younger.

I agree with AVF’s other points about the potential issues of an author parody as well. Perhaps one way to resolve the first point is to allow people to parody famous authors as well. That might not work as well if people aren’t familiar with the author being parodied, but that’ll sometimes apply to authors on the site as well, so probably not a huge deal.

On the flip side, one of the potential advantages of an author parody might be that you learn something you didn’t realize you were known for…a subconscious tendency in your writing, or something like that.

I think Author Parody would be fun, but it’s only viable if it’s inoffensive, and different people have different takes on what’s offensive. I think if we were to do an Author Parody theme, it would work to have authors willing to be parodied name themselves, and other authors to be off-limits - but if you name yourself, you have to be willing to put up with whatever gets written, as long as it’s not downright vitriolic of course. Then again, I think Author Parody could potentially have more negatives than positives, so I’m not going to advocate for it necessarily. It would be fun, but I can imagine controversies arising from it for sure.

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Could it just be better to call it Author Emulation rather than parody? That might make it easier to write and make more sense for this kind of website. Instead of there having a comedic tinge to it, it’s more about trying to use another author’s style, fetishes, archetypes, tropes, etc. that you might not normally use. This way it will differentiate yourself from your own work and also encourage you to experiment in something they might be interested in but don’t write about. And it won’t be about ‘making fun’ of someone’s work, but about wanting to create more things like it.

Also would it be better to announce who you’re ‘parodying’? Or just try to let the audience figure it out?

Personally, I find it really hard to have comedy and arousal at the same time. And it might be really difficult to make jokes that most people would find funny unless they know that person’s writing style or stories really well.

Technically, I’ve implemented challenges so they can overlap, i.e. you can have multiple challenges running at the same time.

Author Parody or Emulation sounds like something that could and maybe should be something that goes on for a longer time, like half a year, because you need time to study an author, ask him, etc.

And while this runs, we could still have “normal” challenges as well.

Please keep your ideas and comments coming, I appreciate every thing.

I’m also not too fond of the idea to hold back stories before they’re published. How long would that be? And why? What’s the purpose? To make sense, I’d have to hold back ALL of them and publish them all at the same time once the deadline has reached. And I don’t think I like that, because it would make for a very boring challenge period after which people would be simply overwhelmed with new stories to read.

As it being one of my suggestions I feel I should jump in.

Yes., The idea is you parody not lampoon/satirize. With the idea you learn something about how what you write has effected your own storytelling. Id I tried to write a firesix story, would my stories be shorter, longer? darker? more sex? less sex?

Obviously, if you put time into writing a 7000 piss take of another author, then, well, you’re a bad person and you should feel bad, lol.