Story Challenge 2 - Supernatural - Discussion

A part of me says it should be okay to submit pre-written stories if they fit the bill, but at the same time, I have all the same concerns Varlance mentioned. I think, despite my instincts, I’d have to come down on the side of disallowing them, strictly for the sake of fairness.

In a similar vein, I sort of consider it unfair if you’re sending this to proofreaders and such, since it then becomes a team effort instead of strictly your own work. But here again, I have conflicting feelings. For some of us, proofreaders are useful, but not strictly necessary to our writing. For others, though, especially those who might be non-native-English speakers, dyslexic, or just plain bad at grammar/spelling, proofreaders can be invaluable.


I think this is something we need to consider for future challenges, but I think it may be too controversial to remove any stories now.

@Varlance Is there any chance you could send me the details you found, as my googlefu is currently failing?


I hope it’s ok that I submitted a prewritten story for the last one. But it was written and completed so recently before the challenge was announced I kinda figured It was ok. Tho going forward anything submitted would have to written specifically for them since I don’t have any stories written. Just ones being worked on.

It’s never a problem if a story has already been written when the challenge is starting, that’s not the issue. You might have a full stack of stories waiting for the right challenge to be used in…

In this case, the issue was a story that had been published on another site previously. I haven’t decided where I stand on this, but my current position would be, that if the authors revises that story, it could be ok. A 1:1 copy sounds a bit cheap, but otoh, I wouldn’t be able to even recognize it, since I can’t check every story submitted for uniqueness.

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It might be easier just to allow it this time and then put an additional rule in the next one that says, “No previously published stories.” Obviously if no one has read a story you’ve written two years ago because it wasn’t published, there’s no real way to know. But if people are able to find the story and prove that it had been published elsewhere by posting a link or something, then it should be disqualified. People can still delete it from other sites or whatever, but if someone is willing to do that, they have a lot more dedication to winning a digital trophy than I do.

Also, it’d probably be a lot of work for the site if they had to go through and verify each and every one of the stories to make sure. And even then some might make it through. So it should probably just be on the honors system and if you see a story that looks a bit too familiar, consider looking for it.

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Of course, the rules for the current challenge are not going to be changed, that was never an in option.

To provide a bit closure on the pre-write that @Varlance highlighted, it turns out the author in question requested the original story was deleted a few months ago, as he wanted to edit it, and re-publish it.

It wasn’t specifically deleted so it could be re-published for this challenge, but I’m guessing they opted to finish their edit and re-publish it as it suited this challenge.

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So I totally get the whole hiding the writer element but it is kind of frustrating as it means the writer of the stories can’t really comment (I mean if they want to anyway) since it would reveal who they are.

Oh, they can comment, but they shouldn’t reveal that they’re the author.

If they log out, they can even comment anonymously as the author.


Log out, lol, right, so simple, which is probably why I didn’t think of it. haha

Sooo I gotta say I am trying to think of something to write and my mind is drawing blanks. The blank of soooooo many ideas that lead to no ideas actually coming. (It doesn’t help that my mind is focused on setting building rather than story writing right now. Now the fact that I wrote a million word HP slash story and since them my writing mind was like ‘you did it no need to do it again’.)

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I have to admit, after having considered for a bit, that I don’t like the idea of a pre-published story in a contest. I can see it if it was drafted and sitting there, but not if reviewed in the court of public reading.

If pre-published stories are allowed, and this does not seem to be the case for this one, an author could withdraw any story that fits and send it over. I think the contest should be “original work”.

I do have an editor/proofreader. He corrects my mistakes (spelling, grammar) and if I have missed something (how is X hard? He was just in a chastity cage). Naturally, I can’t object to that sort of assistance, as it improves the reader’s experience.

Ok, so I’m going on a tangent here but I’m spelling out some ideas that I proposed in my comments on “To the Top of the Mountain” where I said the story was paranormal and not supernatural.

Martin is correct in commenting that the para of paranormal can mean beyond/past but it can also mean “beside, next to”. This “next to” is the sense of the paranormal that I’m working with. The paranormal is the weird things that happen to people by encountering something unusual that is right beside you. An example of this that I’m very familiar with is Yama-san’s “Oyama and the Spirit.” In Japanese mythology, kitsune (fox-spirits), tanuki (racoon spirits) and other bakemono (shape-shifting spirits) inhabit the same space as human and human often enter their world without realizing they have crossed the boundary (think Spirited Away how the main character and her family cross through the gateway into the realm of the spirits).

In contrast, supernatural often involves dynamics of the realms above and below the normal world we humans live in. This is often conceived of the placement of heaven above us and hell below us based upon the ideas and doctrines of the Abrahamic faiths. So, as I said in my first comment, when you think of the show Supernatural most of the story lines involve demons, the Devil, God, and angels along with other creatures does as vampires, werewolves, etc. But even those fit into the above/below dynamic as we come to learn their souls go to purgatory which is hell-adjacent.

So Martin asserts that supernatural and paranormal are synonymous with each other; I would say they are largely are, but you need to understand that as the Venn diagram mostly but not completely overlapping. A vampire story can be told both supernaturally and paranormally (Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain trilogy of books do this by combining forensic science and Sodom and Gomorrah mythology) as can most of the spooky figures that can fit under the heading supernatural (The Paranormal Activity movies are another example with the ghost story meeting digital recording). But where the overlap lies is in the fact that the figures involve magic, religious belief, and/or mysticism. And that’s what leads me to say that “To the Top of the Mountain” is just paranormal, and not in supernatural/paranormal. At it’s core, the story is an alien story and aliens don’t involve the magic/mystical element that allows for it to enter into the supernatural element of the contest. This is not a knock on the story, but a feature of the criteria of the contest.

So there’s my take on the supernatural/paranormal distinction.

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A minor comment about the deadline.

Two stories have been posted where the author has explicitly noted that they missed the deadline. I suspect the two mentions of the deadline as “12 am on 15 July” (in the banner) and “15 July 2020” in the rules can be misconstrued - I know I had to stop and think in order to get the deadline right for my timezone. 12am/12pm is always at risk of causing muddle.

“23:59 UTC 14 July 2020” would have avoided any ambiguity.

Noted :slight_smile:

Thank you for the advice, and I agree. Actually I was aware of the ambiguity of 12:00 am myself, when I wrote it, but I thought that native English speakers wouldn’t have this problem.

I never thought about that.
Putting midnight on the 14th would be another option.

Ah, but is midnight the first instant of the day or the last? :slight_smile:

You’d need to say “midnight on the 14th/15th”.

“if anything can be misconstrued, it will be misconstrued” is a corollary of Murphy’s Law…

I thought about this too - I think most people would interpret midnight as ‘00:00’ which belongs to the start of the day, however unless you specify the midnight of 14th/15th like kb57z said, it can be unclear.

I personally take midnight to be the end of the day, even though technically it’s changeover point between days.

I think 12 noon might be a simpler deadline.

Congratulations to princec in his victory! Great work everyone

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Congrats to Princec, and thanks to everybody who participated!

I apologize that I’m replying to older comments, but I wanted to address some of the earlier comments about pre-published stories.

First off, totally respect where you guys are coming from. If Martin wants to change the rules in the future, I’m totally with it. That said, yup, I published a story that I had previously published at the NCMC. Though various database imports, it ended up on this site which is the spiritual successor of that old favourite. It’s fair to say that it’s been published here before.

Last story challenge, there was a bit of discussion about submitting perviously published stories. Here’s where Martin came down on it:

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.

Source: Discussion about Story Challenges

When I saw the Supernatural challenge was being discussed on Discord as a likely next challenge, I contacted Martin, asked him if we could quietly take the previous story down because I didn’t want to ‘give away’ whose story it was, and set about editing the story.

The version published under the story contest is an edit that I did during the period of the contest, almost a decade after I published the original piece. It tightens it, adds a very little bit, but mostly improves the writing. The Shadow On My Wall is a deeply personal story to me - it’s about coming to terms with realizing you’re gay, about realizing that the part of you that feels foreign is actually a part of you, and about learning to accept yourself as a whole person. I’d been itching to revisit it, regardless of the story challenge, because I felt that Derek with a decade more experience was in a good position to make it better.

(Sorry for the drop-in English class on my not-so-subtle metaphors. For extra credit, please submit a short essay on sunlight as a metaphor in the story.)

I did not for a second think that the story would win - and I was right! It’s not that hot of a story. There isn’t too much mind control. Believe me when I say that I didn’t submit it in an attempt to game the contest, but more because there was something I wanted to revisit and honour, and the contest seemed like a good opportunity to do that work.

I wanted to take a second to write this out so that the folks who had issues with a pre-written story might better understand the intent behind the submission.

I think it’s a fine idea to change the rules to say ‘nothing that’s been published before’, but I’ll admit to feeling a bit miffed at being called out (by story title earlier in this thread) for doing something that was discussed and ruled allowed in the previous contests feedback thread, especially when I’m under an obligation to keep it anonymous, preventing a response at the time.

I hope that we’ll figure out which rules work best for the community going forward. These contests are a ton of fun, and I love seeing what everyone comes up with.

(Oh, Martin, the ‘when is midnight’ problem crops up a lot for native English speakers too. Often times contests will close at 11:59 PM to make it explicit. It’s a bug in the English language.)