[Community Project] Pathfinder Fiction Contest 2011


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Hello everyone.

I am excited to announce our next Pathfinder Fiction Contest. It will be taking place June 10th until July 20th. For Round 1 we will be accepting stories that will be 1500 words. Round 2 will begin August 1st with twenty finalists proposing 4500 word stories. Like last year, the top 5 will go on to be chosen blindly by James Sutter. The prize, by now, should be obvious. Winners will get their stories in the 2012 Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology! 1st place get's the front of the book.


Excellent. Thanks for the announcement.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

You are most welcome.


Dumb question...but is there any theme? Obviously (at least I think so...) the story needs to take place in Golarion...but is there anything else?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Debating the theme idea.

It will be announced as we get closer to the date.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Far better to leave it open-ended. Let the authors find inspiration (in Golarion) in whatever ways they can.

Just my two cents,
--Neil


Neil Spicer wrote:

Far better to leave it open-ended. Let the authors find inspiration (in Golarion) in whatever ways they can.

Just my two cents,
--Neil

I Am No Publisher, but as someone who browses bookshops it seems to me that a lot of books which are compilations of stories by different authors tend to have a linking theme - E.G. 'vampire stories' or 'what if? Sherlock Holmes' or 'fantasy romance'.

Contributor

I'll second it being open-ended. :)

Plus, if a theme is added, some folks may have to abandon ideas that they've already come up with or have already started on in prep for this year's Wayfinder. Best to let folks be inspired by what most inspires them.

My two Bytopian coppers,
Todd


Paizo gave this year's potential RPGSuperstar finalists just two weeks' notice (see SKR's post ofthe 25th February: *link*) that they had to come up with and turn in an adventure proposal geared towards characters levels 1-4, but the top four still all did it.
If an announcement of a theme [for this fiction contest] is forthcoming in the next week or two, it seems to me that even contestants who start from scratch in this contest will have three whole months up until the close of the initial round to write, review, and edit 1,500 words.


(edited)
It's proving somewhat painful for me to try to maintain helpful objectivity here, so I'll bow out of posting on this thread... Good luck, Zuxius, and [humour]don't let these professional freelancers push you around too much - remember you're the publisher here. ;) [/humour]

Liberty's Edge

Actually I am with both Neil and Todd on this.... we already have a theme: Golarion.

Wayfinder already has themes for each publication, I think there is no need to limit both the contest and future anthology with the same rules, specially since both concepts are quite different.

Also originally I was against the 2 rounds thing... but after the alst mad rush... yeah... I think we need less to read... still a good story and a good author can be find both in a short story or on flash fiction.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Is the 4500 word story supposed to be an expanded version of the 1500 word story?

Liberty's Edge

Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
Is the 4500 word story supposed to be an expanded version of the 1500 word story?

no

could be, but we do believe that the 1500 stories should have a development of its own, so a different 4500 story would work better. If you get something tight and well in a 1500 story it doesn't always translates well adding more hay to bump it.

So yeah, I suppose the best would be to to work on 2 different stories (even if related to each other) since now.

we are not looking for 1500 summaries of the main 4500 story. We want to see how you work with flash fiction.

Flash fiction in many ways are harder than short stories, you need to focus in the essentials and take away all the noise from the story.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

The 1500 word story will have to stand completely on its own. The smaller fiction also has a chance to be in the Anthology as well. Its important you get them both right.

A 4500 word story is a slightly different beast but still just the same beast with the dire template.

This contest you will need to put solid endings to all your stories. There were some last year that had great writing prose/poise and this edged a few over the top but its likely that won't be enough this time around.

Beginning - Middle - End is the order of the day. If you can't write a decent ending that wraps up all the elements you introduce than I think you better order the Planet Stories Book "Who Fears the Devil" by Manly Wade Wellman and Planet Stories Book "Robots Have No Tails" by Henry Kuttner. These two books alone will give you the tools you need to most likely reach the Top 10, if not the Top 5.

If you are going to start working on your stories now I suggest you get these books under your belt first. Throughout Robots Have No Tails, Kuttner always introduces a number of elements that come together neatly at the end. Its like a math problem really. He starts with an equation and at the end X=4.

Manly Wade on the other hand is a bit more lose but he can write even shorter pieces that are still coherent.

It's a shame that there will only be 20 days for everyone to write a 4500 word piece but if you want to get it done before you know you are a finalist, go for it. The worst that could happen is that you don't head into the finals with it. However, you can bring it to Pathfinder Chronicler and work on it over the fall until it is Anthology worthy. I think about 9 people last year did this and four got their stories into the Anthology. There is no guarantee on that pursuit but persistance and hard work with those on the site pretty much guarantee the possibility.

We will have no theme for this year other than it is set in the World of Golarion or its nearby demiplanes. I will ask that if you do set it in another plane that it retain a distinct pathfinder feel.

The requirements again are that you haven't been published for fiction professionally, 5 cents per word for 25000 words or more. A lot of people raised questions last year if this was really an amateur contest given the participation of those that have done freelance work with Paizo. My response simply is this. There were a lot of you out there that beat these freelancers in so many ways. Style, imagery, action, endings. It was just amazing. However, you now have the opportunity to see what a winning story looks like. Those "tricks" that got them in won't be enough this time around and to craft a 1500 word story does take a bit of craft and intelligence. That is why I refer you to those books above.

I don't want to see, "you got my axe" and "my bow". "We hunt Orcs tonight" and the characters run off into the sunset. As you well know, that is not an ending.

An ending has some kind of resolution to be had. The puzzle is solved. The riddle is revealed. The curtain rises. The creature turns into a puddle of "goo."

I would also recommend laying off on the style of :

Introduce Character(s)
They Fight
They ride off into the sunset

There were so many stories that seemed to hinge on a battle. The standard party motif is also so tired. A Cleric, a Rogue, A Fighter and a Wizard. They fight, they fight, they fight they fight they fight, its the Itchy and Scratchy shooooow.

Fiction is not RPG in words. Fiction is driven by your ability to make us like your characters. For that, I would say you need to really size down the number of people in your story. I really hate hate hate how everyone feels compelled to get four characters in a story with a lot of name tossing.

Harg said. Juliette whispered. Krag bellowed. Jesper called out. So many dumb names to introduce just so you can get the story straight about four "roles" that must be identified before you can properly run a D&D battle in fiction which your group fought last Tuesday. It may make you happy but it isn't something I would share.

Get out of your Campaign and get into story writing. 1500 words is barely enough room for one or two characters at most. Two works fairly well. Everyone else is just background cardboard. The better you command your english skills, the quicker you can convey what you need to. This is very important so you may spend more time on the action of "what actually happens" in the story.

Lastly and most importantly.

Pathfinder Chroniclers on our website can participate in this contest with full use of our editing help. All judges (Montalve and I) will not help with these editing processes nor look at those stories. A special forum will be created just for Contest Works. It will be passworded to something both Montalve and I do not know. When you get to our website (and it ain't easy), private message malikjoker for that password.

I firmly believe that our group will help make winning entrees. Peer editing on our site is a tool that we want writers to experience. If you want to increase your chances by peer editing, go for it. Last year there were many members on Pathfinder Chronicler that wanted to participate in the contest but decided to stay out for fear of being labeled insiders.

I tell you now, everyone in this contest can be an insider. I want Pathfinder Chronicler to no longer be a fan site. I want it to be an alternative Pathfinder fiction site. Gone is the word fan fiction from my vocabulary. I do not write fan fiction because it is truly beneath me. This garbagey name and the negative stigma it entails has got to go. The community writes alternative Pathfinder fiction, period. Its so good that you deserve to be published and I firmly believe it.

To get published is the fiction contest's prize. If you are truly a writer, take pride in your craft and make it happen. Work with other writers and get your piece as good as you can get it. Whoever joins the site and works with other contestants with the worry they are helping the competition, should really consider their past. Contests happened in Kindergarten. Everyone sat at their desks. They shared glue and color paper. They put together their works side by side and the teacher hung them all up for everyone to appreciate. That is the spirit of Pathfinder Chronicler. If 12 people joined and worked like that together, I would suspect those same 12 people would become finalists. Not because they cheated but because they were willing to make each other the best they could through communal effort.

We are a writing group guys. Not writing individuals. All the great writers of our times kept close circles with other great writers. In the U.S. we think individuals have to standalone and be brilliant but I challenge all of you to consider that a community is stronger than any one individual. Use our site and craft a better entry.

Ted
Pathfinder Chronicler Forums


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Zuxius wrote:
Harg said. Juliette whispered. Krag bellowed. Jesper called out. So many dumb names...

*shakes fist*

Contributor

Hey, I kinda like Harg and Krag Bellower. They seem like a perfectly nice pair of half-orc rent-a-cops. Perhaps I will steal them, if you don't want them anymore. ;)

Liberty's Edge

Liane Merciel wrote:
Hey, I kinda like Harg and Krag Bellower. They seem like a perfectly nice pair of half-orc rent-a-cops. Perhaps I will steal them, if you don't want them anymore. ;)

looking at it that way, indeed, they sound like good troubleshooters... :P

The Exchange

Yay! I can't wait for the next contest!...er, actually, yes I can, because I need the time to write a 1500 word story. Writing those can really be harder than longer pieces, for a variety of reasons.

What an interesting decision to split the contest into two phases, too. I hope this means lots of good new stories for the website!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Oh yeah. The average Wayfinder story is about 1500 words and a lot of those get thrown around. The anthology will have a lot more stories as a result.

Liberty's Edge

*mumble grumble*

lol ok my last 1500 word story right now is around 3500... and if all goes well it will stay there :P


So for those of us who are new to this. Where do you send your story for this competition?

The Exchange

Oggron wrote:
So for those of us who are new to this. Where do you send your story for this competition?

I think that information will be posted on the main website. Link. During the last contest I also joined the webiste forums, so I could get feedback. When I joined Pathfinder Chronicler Forums I e-mailed Montalve and Zuxius and they gave me the passwords and login info.

Hope this helps! :)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Here we go! Brace for impact!

Contest Announcement with rules.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Rules clarification questions:

1) Are previous participants still eligible this year? Assuming, of course, that we still haven't been published in the fiction market...

2) Given the importance of competitor anonymity in the judging process, I imagine re-using any characters from prior works would be a no-no?

3) If a competitor clears the first round and makes the Top 20, can the second (longer) story use the same characters?


Neil Spicer wrote:

Rules clarification questions:

1) Are previous participants still eligible this year? Assuming, of course, that we still haven't been published in the fiction market...

2) Given the importance of competitor anonymity in the judging process, I imagine re-using any characters from prior works would be a no-no?

3) If a competitor clears the first round and makes the Top 20, can the second (longer) story use the same characters?

Or perhaps James Sutter or whomever makes the fiction decisions at Paizo could take a chance on you, Neil, and hand you a book writing gig? You very obviously have writing chops to go along with your adventure design chops.

Just my two cents. :)

Contributor

Neil Spicer wrote:

Rules clarification questions:

1) Are previous participants still eligible this year? Assuming, of course, that we still haven't been published in the fiction market...

2) Given the importance of competitor anonymity in the judging process, I imagine re-using any characters from prior works would be a no-no?

3) If a competitor clears the first round and makes the Top 20, can the second (longer) story use the same characters?

Good questions. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Dark Sasha wrote:
...perhaps James Sutter or whomever makes the fiction decisions at Paizo could take a chance on you, Neil, and hand you a book writing gig? You very obviously have writing chops to go along with your adventure design chops.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dawn. ;-)

I've certainly expressed interest in writing fiction for them. Even if it's just starting out with something small like the web fiction on Wednesday's blog. But, I also understand Paizo needs to establish its book line (and web fiction) with known, named authors with prior experience and fiction credits. Some of the staff (like Erik Mona, for instance) want to write Golarion fiction, too. And, inasmuch as they may eventually open the door to a handful of RPG contributors someday, I'm sure they'll have no shortage of people expressing interest in it. I'll be standing in line with all of them, hat in hand.

So...maybe someday. You never know. In the meantime, if I want to stretch my fiction-writing wings, I can pursue that through any number of professional outlets (as I have time amid all the RPG writing I've been doing lately). And, as for unpaid Golarion fiction, I can keep participating in the PFC contest and Wayfinder to scratch that particular itch. I'm 5-for-5 on those opportunities. ;-)

--Neil

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:

Rules clarification questions:

1) Are previous participants still eligible this year? Assuming, of course, that we still haven't been published in the fiction market...?

Short answer. If you didn't win first place you can participate.

Long Answer. Aah hell Neil. First, you have an exclusive to write a story for the next Volume II already, don't forget. So you're in the book if you choose. I can't offer you something you already earned. That is the incentive to be in the contest. Though there are others.

As far as the winner of last year's contest coming to defeat the horde again, I am going to say I don't know for the meantime. I need to get confirmation from my group. My hope is that the participants (even winners) of the previous contests will see the greater good in this endeavor and help add to what I have started.

Neil Spicer wrote:
2) Given the importance of competitor anonymity in the judging process, I imagine re-using any characters from prior works would be a no-no?

No prior characters please. The idea of the contest is to challenge your abilities. If I hand you a clarinet, you better use it right. Round 1 is a 1500 word story that will be hard to tell. The twenty stories that are chosen can expect a surprise in Round 2.

Neil Spicer wrote:
3) If a competitor clears the first round and makes the Top 20, can the second (longer) story use the same characters?

No Comment. Write the best Round 1 story you can.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Interesting.

Just so you know, even if I'm disqualified as a competitor this year, I'm still going to write something. I've already got a bug in my ear desperate to tell another story. And it's got to get out somehow. Writers write. It's what we do. ;-)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Neil Spicer wrote:

Interesting.

Just so you know, even if I'm disqualified as a competitor this year, I'm still going to write something. I've already got a bug in my ear desperate to tell another story. And it's got to get out somehow. Writers write. It's what we do. ;-)

As you know, fiction workshop is coming.

Talked to Montalve last night. He is of the mind that we gave you the impression you can run again. He did jolt my memory on the subject. I will see what the group says. I am thinking it is waving towards the "yes" side for the moment.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Zuxius wrote:
Talked to Montalve last night. He is of the mind that we gave you the impression you can run again. He did jolt my memory on the subject. I will see what the group says. I am thinking it is waving towards the "yes" side for the moment.

Please understand that I'm completely comfortable with not being eligible. I didn't see anything in this year's rules prohibiting it. Hence, I asked. And don't worry about having set some kind of impression in earlier conversations. I'd rather do what's in the best interests of keeping the writing contest going.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Zuxius wrote:
It's a shame that there will only be 20 days for everyone to write a 4500 word piece but if you want to get it done before you know you are a finalist, go for it.

Just to be clear. I am retracting this earlier comment I wrote above. You will have 30 days to write a 4500 word story for Round 2.

Contest Period: Starting June 10th, 12:00AM, Pacific Time, Pathfinder Chronicler will be accepting short story submissions for our Pathfinder Fiction Contest 2011. Deadline for all submissions is July 1st, 11:59pm Pacific Time. On July 20th, twenty finalists will be announced to go on to Round 2. The second round will begin July 21st with twenty finalists proposing 4500 word stories which must be turned in by August 20th, 11:59pm Pacific Time. Five stories will be chosen to go on to the final round which will be conducted by Paizo’s Fiction Editor, James Sutter. James will blindly choose through the five finalists, deciding the Pathfinder Fiction Contest winner. That winner will be announced October 1st. The top 10 stories chosen by the judges will also be put in the upcoming Pathfinder Chronicler Anthology Voulme II.

Liberty's Edge

Free ticket to 2nd part sounds good to me.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

No free ticket that I can see.

This is still very undecided.

Two prominent members have weighed in for first place exclusion, though they have expressed that being a judge after winning the contest is a "good thing."

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

I'd refuse a free ticket straight-up. That doesn't serve the contest well at all, in my opinion. As for the judging duty, I've lived a similar experience with RPG Superstar...and, given my current workload...I'd have to refuse that, too. Doesn't mean I won't support the contest however I can. I just can't do that.

Liberty's Edge

ok... that is why I should check all my resources before giving something for a fact :P

Still Neil your questions gave us things to think.

Well after all the reason of the contest is to give the winner exposure to the powers that be, and that was the concensus, you got that price, the idea is to have more people getting that same exposure.

And we understand your position about the contest... oh very well I understand. Well we hope to read more from you and thanks for the support.

Still Ted might say something else.

*Returns to belated work*

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Here is what we would like. It has been expressed enough times that I cannot ignore it.

Our desire is to have the winner of the previous year's contest comeback and judge. It is the right thing to do and we feel it is giving back what you have received. We all work hard at Pathfinder Chronicler and see this as an honor to serve your community. Be it Paizo or Pathfinder Chronicler.

It is impossible to continue working so hard on something like this and only get one-way support. We want Pathfinder Chronicler to be more "woven in" with the talent in the community (who expresses a desire to write fiction). This is critical to our longterm survival.

That is the groups wishes and my own.

Sorry Neil. We still wait for your story with Maggie however and would like to see it in Volume II.

The Exchange

Zuxius wrote:
We still wait for your story with Maggie however and would like to see it in Volume II.

And now that I'm on summer break, I'll be jumping back into this really soon!

Liberty's Edge

Calandra wrote:
Zuxius wrote:
We still wait for your story with Maggie however and would like to see it in Volume II.
And now that I'm on summer break, I'll be jumping back into this really soon!

excellent *cue Monty Burns*

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Just a quick question about this contest since I'm new to this, I assume the submissions will be done over email and I was wondering what formats were preferred/acceptable for the document?

I'm looking forward to entering and want to make sure I do everything right!(=

Thanks!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Hello Kalyna!

I hope this answers your questions but if you have any others feel free to ask here or through email: zuxius@pathfinderchronicler.net

PF Contest Submission Instructions

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Perfect, thanks!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

Contest begins June 10th!

First round ends July 1st!


Guess I'll start getting something down then.

Liberty's Edge

For anyone that is interested, Ted joined me briefly about the Pathfinder Chronicler Fiction Contest, amongst other things, in Know Direction episode 23.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

:)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

First submission received today!

Where's yours?

I can't wait to see where you go with it! SEND THEM IN!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber
Liane Merciel wrote:
Hey, I kinda like Harg and Krag Bellower. They seem like a perfectly nice pair of half-orc rent-a-cops. Perhaps I will steal them, if you don't want them anymore. ;)

Hahah!

Liane, I should kidnap you to be a judge next year. Then you can get all the names you need for 30 novels.

Contributor

Zuxius wrote:

First submission received today!

Where's yours?

Rough and 100 words past the limit. ;)

I'll have it polished by the end of the week. :)


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