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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.

Christmas Engagement Win

Christmas Engagement Win

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Good Morning Sunshine

Today it was announced that While You Tell Yourself the Truth  tied for the "Most Adventurous" award for SIYE's Christmas Engagement Challenge.  This will make it a "Featured Story" on SIYE.

While I'm thrilled and grateful to be so recognized, I also have some mixed feelings.  For one thing, the story tied with

sovranspecific's magnificent story Phoenix (which also won Best Overall), and the two aren't even in the same league.  I'm not being modest, here:  I'm a fair judge of my own work, and WYTYT isn't my best.  I enjoyed writing it (it was lots of fun to try my hand at fluff and action-adventure), but it isn't anywhere near as good as Counting to Five Thousand, which didn't even come in fourth place for the "Best Angst" award for December.  Phoenix, by contrast, is a gorgeous piece of work on many levels (including some sophisticated use of third-person narrative to illustrate character change); it's an honor to be named in the same breath as that story, but somehow it doesn't seem entirely fair.


Meanwhile, congratulations to dearest  stmargarets whose sweet story These Three Words won the award for "Very Romantic" and who is a multiple-champion at these Challenges -- although it may be that this particular award is complicated for her too?  (Look at her Year in Review posting, where she calls it "the worst writing experience I've ever had.")



  • They were *both* good stories, okay? :-) Plenty to find of qualilty in both, and I enjoyed reading them both, so case closed! :-)

    Although that conclusion of yours, giving promise of a seventh book wherein it's just Harry and Hermione together doing the Horcrux Hunt, does tend to make 'While You Tell Yourself the Truth' pip all others at the post, really ... but that might be a particularly subjective evaluation, just maybe! :-)

    Seriously, they both had good amounts of 'adventure', which is the classification under which your story won. 'Phoenix' started out with an excellent action-packed prologue which really got the blood pumping and then made me even more on Harry's side when I discovered how he'd been vilified for his heroics. But your story likewise had a ripper of an opening that had me worried about our heroes and an aftermath which also established nicely the core premise of the tale, how the two couples would have to split up. Plus the Malfoy battle was another neat slab of 'adventure' in your fic, ramming home the danger that could lurk beneath even the most innocuous of settings. How easily things could have gone the other way; very chilling thinking of Malfoy carting a helpless Harry into DE headquarters and dropping him at Voldemort's feet!
    • Brad, thanks. I'm glad you liked it and I agree with your logic.

      But please don't misunderstand me: I'm not down on myself, nor on the story. I'm mulling over what this whole judging / awards / reviews / notoriety / positive reinforcement / external validation thing means to me. Isn't it odd that I can't just brag about winning a prize? What's going on there?
  • I'll start by saying how honored I am to have won diddly-squat, given how good the other stories (yours included) are and how very far from the stated 'theme' of the challenge I wrote. You can ask Chreechree, who was my front-line beta for Phoenix; I started out writing the story because I wanted to write it and fully understanding that it was not the sort of thing that would win. I was quite proud of it both as a story and as a writing experience, but I remain a bit surprised that it won anything. Thank you for the effusively kind words above.

    Moving on . . . I honestly believe that the challenge suffered a bit, or perhaps the awarding suffered a bit, by the choice of categories. The subject of the challenge did not lend itself well to action/adventure. At the same time, there were several entires that made good use of angst and/or drama. And, as several people have pointed out, there is a difference between fluff and romance, and some of the entries showed that difference quite clearly. So I'd say that the categories should have been overall, romance, fluff, angst, drama, and humor. That would have allowed for more accurate distribution of recognition, I think.

    Since there was an act/adv category, the judges had to do the best they could. Our two stories, of the ones I read (about half . . . I had to maintain some standards), contained the most action/adventure. I can't really say which action was better written: I thought they were both quite good, modesty aside. But the single action sequence in my story was far less important, in my opinion, than the two in yours. Yes, my prologue helped to establish the background and the tone, but I did seriously consider posting Phoenix without it. I think your action was much more important to the plot and purpose of your story, and thus I would have chosen it for that award. Obviously, I was not a judge, but I would have felt quite strange if Phoenix had won action/adventure outright.

    As an aside, I have no idea how to use italics in LJ posts. I should learn that.
    • As for the effusion, I found the story moving and, as I got into it, very skillful. I gush, but it's well-informed gushing.

      I agree that the categories were a bit weird, but then I thought the whole Challenge was a bit weird. If I were to assign a category to mine, it would be -- what? -- "Best Ethical Symbolic Wedding?" "Most Romantic Contraceptive Charm?" "Best Use of Hermione in a Supporting Role?" "Most Serious Twins?" To some extent, once you create categories you limit the range of what it's possible to say. Come to think of it, as soon as you create an award (or count the reviews in preference to reading them) you limit the range of what it's possible to say.

      I think that the real advantage of the Challenges is that they use judges. Josh said, a few days back, that awards determined by a qualified panel are bound to be more reliable, or to reflect real quality, than those elected by the flock. I was proud to be in the company of all of those stories and all of those writers -- which is more than I can say, sadly, for the DSTAs most of the time.

      I think you're right about how the Action/Adventure thing panned out.

      Oh -- LJ uses HTML tags for fonts; I just type them in myself.
  • Catalogies are hard to contain when many of them spill over onto others. Still, congratualtions!
  • Howdy ho! I actually finally created a LJ account just so I could talk about this a bit. I know it's not necessary to do so, but - eh. Maybe one day I'll actually put something on there myself.

    Let me add a judge's perspective. As sovranspecific mentioned above, the categories were the problem. He and I have already discussed this and agree that drama and really angst and fluff should've been on there. There wasn't really a story that screamed Adventure to me. There were some action scenes and implied action, but not a proper "Adventure". So, judges are allowed a first and second vote per category. I decided what 4 stories I wanted to give my first place votes to and then assigned them to categories based on best match/ where I thought they had the best chance of winning. I hoped that others would think similarly, and I was pleased that you won Adventure as that’s where I’d put you (and, yes, you got my first place vote).

    I agree that the challenge topic was – odd. Dictating such a young age made me uncomfortable. Plus, there would’ve been a greater variety in the stories if they’d eliminated the age aspect (variety of ages, career situations, AU options where they’ve had a different dating history, etc). Still, I’d already volunteered by the time I knew what the challenge was. Oh well.

    The real challenge of a challenge is to write a piece that doesn’t feel like a challenge piece. So many times, reading a series of challenge pieces resembles studying a checklist. There were several stories this time around that managed to not fall into that trap.

    Now, Ken, you mentioned Josh thinking that a panel of “qualified” judges was more likely to reflect quality than the flock… well…. When I volunteered to be a judge, I thought I was going to have to prove why I was qualified to be a judge and sent Sir Ollivander a long missive (long missive? me?) explaining why I was a good candidate. Now I could’ve misunderstood, but his response implied that they’ll take just about anyone who wants to do it. I don’t know that the panel, therefore, is particularly qualified. And still, look who won. All the winners and HMs are past Trinket winners (except Ken who has a slew of nominations under his belt), most of them multiple winners. The same authors won again. Personally, I was disappointed that Athea didn’t earn recognition as her story was one of the best, I’d say better than some that won. While she is known around the site, she doesn’t have the rep that the winners have. So, as much as I hate to say it, reputation still comes into play. I think the only way to fairly judge challenges is to have the authors remain anonymous. I need to make it clear that I voted for all the winning and HM authors, perhaps not in the category they received recognition in, but all of them got one of my 8 votes. It’s also why they win Trinkets. They are all excellent writers. It’s just difficult for the lesser known writers to break through some of notoriety barriers, especially in the Trinkets.

    And stop putting down your story! No, I agree that it wasn’t as good as “Counting to 5,000”, but I’m a bit biased about CT5K (I’m still upset it didn’t win a Trinket – how on earth did it not win Angst?). WYTYtT was exceptionally well written and executed. So no more of that self-deprecation.
    • Okay, Christine. No more self-deprecation. (Honestly I wasn't trying to self-deprecate.)

      It's true that this time, judges were picked based simply on their willingness to judge. I'm told that that's different from other times. But the very decision to be a judge also implies a willingness to read an awful lot of stuff and to try to be fair. It's not like the "People's Choice" concept where the loudest voice wins. I liked being in that company.

      Thanks for the vote -- "Aw, Josh's jocular jots, honey, I love you too." (Oh -- maybe I shouldn't quote from not-yet-posted chapters?)

      As for writing a Challenge story that doesn't feel like a Challenge story, that's why Dave's story is the hands-down winner. If you'd never heard of this Challenge you'd want to read it anyway. The same would be true of WYTYT, I think, if I could delete nearly all of the scenes with the twins and focus on what I now realize the story is about! (I didn't fully realize it, actually, until I was discussing it with Dave the other day. I now realize that Harry should have asked Ginny whether she agreed to stay behind, and she should have replied with two words: "I do." It was the word "engagement" that was throwing me off; they weren't getting engaged, they were getting married!)

      And now that you're here on LJ, do you want to take a look at some of the recent chapters and draft fics? The two Snape chapters (1) The prologue Things That Do Sound So Fair, http://rhetoretician.livejournal.com/5369.html and (2) What will probably wind up being Chapter 15, Take Any Shape But That, http://rhetoretician.livejournal.com/5752.html. Or maybe the "Phoenix Moment" Challenge entry called The Torch, which is also my little love song to Hermione, http://rhetoretician.livejournal.com/6597.html. You know how I value your opinion.


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