The Writeoff Association 904 members · 595 stories
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RogerDodger
Group Admin

Event overview

Note for newcomers: While many participants choose to provide peer-review of others' entries, doing so is by no means required nor expected.

Please refrain from saying anything that might compromise your anonymity. Doing so is grounds for disqualification. It's recommended you do dummy reviews of your own stories should it otherwise be easy to deduce which you wrote.

Story discussion starts at 3806742 .

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3760963
This should be interesting. Let's see how the experiment goes; I'm looking forward to it.

Of course, I always am these days.

M1Garand8
Group Contributor

Yesss, it's starting. :pinkiecrazy:

Jonathon Smythe
Group Contributor

Somehow, I don't think I'll have the skill to participate in this one. I look forward to reading them though!

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3760972
Don't doubt yourself! The entire point of the Write-Offs is not to win, but to do good work and to have the contest encourage you to write when you otherwise would not have written. If winning was the only point, we wouldn't have very many contestants.

M1Garand8
Group Contributor

3760972
Yeah, I entered so I could write things, not win.

Jonathon Smythe
Group Contributor

3760976 3760977
You've convinced me. I'll give it a shot. Let's see if I can get to 2000 words.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

Well, if I don't procrastinate, at least it means I should have time to let the story simmer a bit before editing it. Not sure if that will improve the quality compared with my usual entries, though...

FanOfMostEverything
Group Contributor

Hmm. Well, I certainly won't have time constraints as an excuse this time around. This should be interesting.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

One other thing:

A bunch of folks last time complained about the prompt being used as a title drop in the last set of stories. (A title drop, for the unenlightened, is the use of the title of a work in the body of the text - or in this case, the use of the prompt in the body of the text). While obviously it isn't necessary to avoid this, I'm sure that the folks who were unhappy about it last time would be grateful if people didn't submit prompts this time around which were likely to be used as title drops in two-thirds of the stories.

I personally don't really mind or care, but some folks did, so something to keep in mind as you come up with prompts, especially if you were one of the folks who was unhappy last time about the prompt being overused as a title drop in the stories.

Bachiavellian
Group Contributor

But I've already perfected the art of desperately crunching stories in 48 hours or less! What am I going to do with these extra 8 days? :raritydespair:

But in all seriousness, I think it's going to be a blast. The more I do these, the more I look forward to them :yay:

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

3761024
I'm considering removing one of the prompts I've submitted over this. I like its idea, but I believe it would be a prompt drop magnet.

Well, let's see if I can come up with something better. If not, my prompt drop magnet is going to stay. Those that disliked the prompt drops can always choose to not vote on prompts that just scream for that, after all.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

Oh god, my body is not ready. D:

3761024
Or, y'know, just don't drop the title in your story. <.< The whole point of the writeoffs has never been "write a story about a prompt and nothing else". The prompt is meant to be a jumping-off point if you can't write a story entirely about it. Granted, it all comes down to how people vote, but explicitly going "Hey guys, the prompt is in my story!" is generally not a good way to go about things.

FloydienSlip
Group Contributor

Oh wow, is it that time already?

I might enter this one, as I believe it will start after the majority of my exams.

Just for clarification, this is the one where, after writing, we can get an editor to look it over? If so, sounds great. If not, I might enter two stories.

Heck, I might do two anyway.

Cold in Gardez
Group Contributor

3761096

I wasn't around for it, but apparently in one of the previous rounds some people dinged authors when judging for not having an explicit enough tie to the prompt in their story. Last writeoff was probably a reaction to that, with authors so eager to tie their story to the prompt that they did so in the most obvious way they could think of -- by dropping it in the title or the text.

RazgrizS57
Group Contributor

3761096

The whole point of the writeoffs has never been "write a story about a prompt and nothing else".

Yes, please. Can we all make an agreement to not be such sticklers about any given story and its relevance to the prompt, for once? You know, judge a story for what the author was able to accomplish, not when they should have been able to? It's always disappointing to me when someone is critical of a story for its lack of relevancy, when in reality I was able to point out a bit of relevancy they were apparently ignorant to and so the story suffered when it came to voting because of that one trivial observation. Making critical reviews is fine, but these prompts are supposed to inspire. They're not supposed to restrict. It takes a bit of the fun away when you judge a story based on how well it ties in to the prompt.

Baal Bunny
Group Contributor

I solemnly swear to make as glancing a use of the prompt as I can this time. Unless it's just too good to resist...:twilightsmile:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

3761246
Like, I know not everyone agrees, but 'writeoff' to me means "write the best story you can in a strict time limit given a prompt". I always award points for good/clever prompt usage, but generally I never take poor usage into account.

RazgrizS57
Group Contributor

3761450
Of course. But it's annoying when some make a point of saying that a story doesn't connect to the prompt.

Rainstream
Group Contributor

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It's the only reason I ever used to do them. These writeoffs were an incredible cure for writer's block. I never expected to win, because despite my best efforts, there were always a few authors just a few levels above me. I often got a participation award and the pride in knowing I'd written something at all.

3761246
I think we were all disappointed at the number of stories that didn't actually involve cutting ties:pinkiecrazy:

Axis of Rotation
Group Contributor

Well, time to put my money where my mouth is.

Pav Feira
Group Contributor

3760978
Go for it. Like OP mentions, while it's neither required nor expected, a lot of people here do give anon feedback during the voting period. No matter what you place, getting all of that constructive criticism (which you can apply to future stories & your growth as an author!) is well worth the price of admission.

3761048
We can go play MMOs to burn off the majority of our time, then scramble at the 11th hour :derpytongue2:

3761246 3761450 3761181 3761024
I think it's a balancing act. "Just Over The Horizons" was annoying at the macro-level, because we read 58 stories with very similar themes and word choice. Sure, name-dropping the prompt is too blunt, but most of those other issues arose because multiple fics were read and patterns across stories became repetitive. It's not Author A's fault that Author B wrote something similar, and it's not the author's fault that there's very few synonyms/metaphors for the horizon, for instance. And yet, if we'd only had to have read one story instead of 58, some of these faults would have seemed a lot less offensive.

Making critical reviews is fine, but these prompts are supposed to inspire. They're not supposed to restrict. It takes a bit of the fun away when you judge a story based on how well it ties in to the prompt.

Yet at the same time, I can't personally get behind this. Sure, the prompt is partially meant to inspire, but I do feel that in part it is meant to restrict as well. Prompt adherence gives an added dimension of challenge for the author, not normally present when writing for themselves. A good prompt will be open-ended enough to allow for many different genres, characters, and themes, while still providing a core to the story that the author needs to remain cognizant of. Partially too is that it serves as a cheating deterrent. Especially for the shorter 24hr and 48hr events, we don't want authors writing an unrelated story weeks in advance, polishing it to a shine, name-dropping an otherwise-unrelated prompt, and claiming it was written for the contest. Granted, to date no one has ever been accused of this in our contests, and hopefully it stays that way. But the threat of "fickle voters might ding me points if I write something clearly unrelated to the prompt" helps keep people honest, in addition to the aforementioned challenges.

That said, since this is the 2-week, Polished event, and thus the time restriction is Not The Point this time around, it could potentially make sense to drop the prompt altogether, and just let people submit whatever.


3761549
>Literally cutting bowties in half
Get out. :pinkiecrazy:

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3761096
There's nothing wrong with title drops. The problem people had with it wasn't that people were doing it, but that everyone was doing it, and Horizon brought up that the prompt last time was probably in part responsible for it. Because the prompt contained a word that was moderately rare (horizon, while a well-known word, certainly is not a common one), it stuck out more when a large percentage of stories did use it because you wouldn't expect the word horizon to be used in very many stories, and instead it was used in a supermajority of them.

I didn't care, as I noted, but other people did, and Horizon pointed out that the prompt naturally lent itself towards being used because if you took "just over the horizon" literally, you were almost certain to use the word "horizon" in your story, and even if you did not, the odds were still fairly high.

3761246
People reward people for clever prompt use. It isn't a bad thing. And the prompt really is meant to restrict; you just have the wrong view on it.

Restrictions breed creativity. They serve as a launching off point and send your brain somewhere it would not have gone otherwise.

Besides, part of the fun is twisting your mind in that manner. I never would have written three of my four Famous Last Words stories without the prompt to act as inspiration.

Restrictions like that are a good thing, not a bad one.

3761450
Eyup.

3761911
As I noted above, prompts are a good thing, not a bad thing, and I wouldn't want to lose the prompt.


On an unrelated note, I love that someone submitted Title Drop as the prompt. Now watch all the trolls vote for it. :rainbowderp:

RazgrizS57
Group Contributor

3761911
I'm not saying to get rid of prompt adherence entirely. The fact that a prompt inspires infers that the resulting story will be tied to the prompt—somehow. I guess what I'm asking is that, just because you don't see how a story connects, doesn't mean a connection isn't there. It should be something to mind, but it shouldn't be something to judge a story on, at least negatively.

I seriously doubt anyone would willfully write a story completely irrelevant to the prompt.

JasonTheHuman
Group Contributor

3762146

I think a lot of people were just confused on how to incorporate "Just Over The Horizon" as the basis for a story. If it's not interpreted literally, it could be taken to mean "something happening in the near future" or something like that, but a lot of authors were concerned that readers would understand how their story related to the prompt if they didn't use the exact phrase. Just about all stories involve looking ahead to the future in some way.

Then there were all the awful puns involving the word "horizon."

It's hard to say just how much the prompt should be taken into account when judging stories, but I typically ignore it and consider the story on its own merits. That's the main reason why I didn't like the self-referential stories in the last event - I think everything written for the write-off should also be enjoyable outside of the contest.

Pascoite
Group Contributor

I'll be sitting this round out, folks, and probably a lot of them from now on. See you in the next minific round, maybe.

3761549

I think we were all disappointed at the number of stories that didn't actually involve cutting ties

I actually wrote four hidden literal instances of cutting ties into my entry, besides the figurative overarching one... Now I feel bad.

Pav Feira
Group Contributor

3762152
Myeh. By that argument, I could go participate in a Flutterdash competition and instead submit an epic adventure fic with zero romantic elements and in which Rainbow doesn't even appear. Sure, there's no apparent Flutterdash, but this was definitely inspired by Flutterdash. How dare you question my stated authorial intent!

Nah. :pinkiesmile: Like TD said, if the prompt is going to be used, then it's a valid component of the story to praise/critique. Or if we want to be pedantic, it's explicitly (if open-endedly) mentioned in da rulez, and in its current format it invites voters to weigh this as lightly or as heavily as they so choose.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3762515
Busy? Or just not interested? :applejackunsure:

Pascoite
Group Contributor

Lost interest. They've turned into something that isn't fun anymore, and I hung on for the last 4 or 5 events to see if that would change, but it didn't. Even the minifics are like that, but it's a minimal time investment to write one of those, so I may still show up for them. But the three-day events are far too much work for something where the motivation to write isn't worth the baggage anymore, and I object on principle to the "polished" events.

RazgrizS57
Group Contributor

3762663
I guess what I'm getting at then is that I detest how serious these events have become as of late—the fact that so many people advocate for this "polished event" is evident of that. In fact, I think that's why my participation has been so spotty. It's not like I have a schedule getting in the way, these things just aren't challenging anymore. They're just not fun as they used to be. I'd hate to completely lose interest in these things, but taking what's supposed to be these lighthearted events so seriously is definitely pushing me that way.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

3762771
Glad I'm not the only one...

horizon
Group Admin

Prompt Submission
Submissions received: 76.

I think I'm gonna just back away from that and not add to the clutter D:

3762146
> On an unrelated note, I love that someone submitted Title Drop as the prompt. Now watch all the trolls vote for it.
Actually, I'll probably vote for it myself — it passes my 10-second multiple interpretation test. :ajsmug:

Besides, given that there are multiple posts above mine complaining about fun levels, maybe it's worth a few moments of :trollestia: to balance out the enhanced professionalism of "submit something polished", and help keep in mind that we're here to entertain each other as well as to get better. (Disclaimer: I am speaking only for myself and not attempting to encourage trolling.)

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3763016
3763024
3762771
I consider this to be a recreational activity; I do it for fun. Because it is fun! We're writing short stories about ponies. If you're not having fun doing that, then you're doing something terribly wrong. If it isn't fun for you, then I can see why you wouldn't want to participate... but it is fun for me, so I do. :heart:

I just don't see getting upset over this. Then again, I'm a naturally competitive person, who enjoys playing to win and the thrill of competition but doesn't dislike anyone for winning or losing as the ultimate point is to better myself and to do something recreational and productive.

3763161
Clearly it was a mistake to bring up the title drops thing because it reminded people of the grouching. My attempt to head off the grouching caused grouching! What a twist!

Ah well.

Pascoite
Group Contributor

3763376 I'm not upset. I'm ambivalent. And ambivalence isn't fun.

RogerDodger
Group Admin

3763161
I think it may be worth lowering the number of prompt submissions people can make. Assuming everyone submitted 4, if instead they could submit only 1, there'd still be 20 to choose from, which I feel is more than sufficient.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor
Morning Sun
Group Contributor

4 may be a little many.

And I'm sorry some don't care for the polished bit. I can say for me, I'm happy for it not because I crave to go hardcore into a story, but because it means I won't have to rush breakneck over a 3 day period I'm also working a lot. Having the time to sit back and see where the journey takes me will be plenty rewarding.

horizon
Group Admin

3763854
To me, 20 seems like plenty, and 50 prompts is about where voting becomes a chore. Two per person might also work, with the size of the current crowd.

M1Garand8
Group Contributor

3763854
3764272
With the current number of people submitting (~19), 1 or 2 is definitely the right amount, having 76 prompts to choose from right now is rather excessive.

Edit: Welp, 82 now. Then again, if we get 40 people to submit, it's still going to be 40 to 80 prompts to choose from. We hit 33 unique participants last writeoff after all.

Dublio
Group Contributor

Wow, that's a lot of prompts that have already been submitted. Hope this means we'll have a close match deciding whatever that is. I figure I'll do my best and participate in this writeoff. I haven't done any writing for so long, so I need to remove my rust, but a week is plenty of time to write a story and polish it so I'm not worried. Should be fun. :pinkiehappy:

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

Heck, over 80 prompts already? I guess it would be a good idea to restrict it to two prompts per person (I find one to be a bit stifling, as I usually have more than one wildly different idea I would love to write about).

3761246

Well, I do want the prompt to matter. While I do this mainly by increasing my internal score for stories that make good use of the prompt (I will only lower the score for completely failing to use the prompt, or worse, for trying to shoehorn it in), the fact I give my final scores according to a fixed curve means a bonus to stories that make good use of the prompt is functionally identical to a penalty to the stories that don't do so.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer
Group Admin

3764224
The thing I think a lot of people don't get, and is the reason why we're sitting here in anticipation of this format change, is that the writeoff was never about writing good stories, or getting deep into them, or demonstrating how good you are at worldbuilding or anything like that. They're a challenge, meant to test your ability to write any story at all in a limited time. Take away the limited timeframe, and you're just writing, there's nothing special about it. Contests in general aren't there to get you to write your best, they exist to make you write, period.

3763854
3764272
I think 2 would be a good number. I like being able to have a little flexibility, but at the same time I'll admit that my eyes usually glaze over by the time I get to the bottom of the voting list.

Morning Sun
Group Contributor

3764582

My point is that limited time is great when you have it. But when over those 3 days you're working every day, it's a lot harder to find even that limited time. That's all. It's one of those 'curses of a busy working/family/whatever life' where the expanded time thing means that can be adjusted around.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3764582
We'll see how it works out; tis an experiment, after all.

I do agree that the challenge is part of it, and also that the tight restrictions encourage you to write now.

Thisisalongname
Group Contributor

3763854

I like that idea, though I don't usually vote on prompts and only submit one so it won't affect me. When it comes to the minific weeks, would using the top two or three prompts instead of one help? Minifics seem to suffer the most from accidentally making the prompt heavy handed and having lack of variaty, so haveing multiple prompts could spice up the reading list.

Dubs Rewatcher
Group Contributor

Just submitted four prompts. Personally, I'm still gunning for "High Class, Low Style" or whatever it's called. Saw that back during the "Magic in Everything" write-off and was really interested.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

Gosh, looks like we will have over a hundred prompts to vote on. Including one that made me reach for a dictionary; I never imagined that a word existed for when someone thinks he or she is a cat.

JasonTheHuman
Group Contributor

3766288

It's a pretty common disorder in Equestria.

Titanium Dragon
Group Contributor

3766288
The English language is full of incredibly obscure words. It is part of what makes it so powerful.

Silent Strider
Group Contributor

99 prompts. Is that a new record? :pinkiehappy:

3766612
I don't really count this kind of obscure word as a strength of the language. More so because this is merely a description of a medical condition based on Greek terminology, and as such that one (or a very similar one) is a valid word in a large number of languages.

The over a dozen words that mean simple things like "walk" or "look" with slightly different tones and intents, on the other hand... :twilightsmile:

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