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Buffy: They told me that I was sick, I guess crazy, and that Sunnydale and all of this -- none of it was real.
Xander: Oh, come on. That's ridiculous. What? You think this isn't real just because of all the vampires, and demons, and ex-vengeance demons, and the sister that used to be a big ball of universe-destroying energy...?


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Welcome to the next year of my life! I've been writing since middle school, recently graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, and dream of becoming an author one day in the hopefully not so distant future. Ideas seem endless, there's so many things to write about that my head hurts just thinking about it, but somehow, someway... I have never written a story over 10k words. What the crap man? Why can't I write a novel-length story, and even more to the point, why can't I finish a novel-length story?

Here's where this contest comes into play: I thought to myself, well I'm sure I'm not the only one with this problem, and I have the Gaia gold to spare, so why not make a contest that caters to those trying to write longer stories? I'm hoping that by making this contest, we can encourage each other to make progress, to exceed our own expectations, and to finally, at the end of this year, have a completed story under our belts that we can feel good about.

And hopefully, this time next year, we can hold our completed works in front of us and say, "Well it's about dad gum time!"

Who's with me?

Contest Updates

July 11, 2013 - The LAST set of reminder PMs were sent out. ONE MONTH left!
May 10, 2013 - The third set of Reminder PMs were sent out. The home stretch has arrived!
February 12, 2013 - The second set of Reminder PMs were sent out! The halfway point has been reached! The Feedback Circle has also been introduced.
November 14, 2012 - Note added to Prizes - People can earn no more than 50,000 gold with the 2 gold per word bonus.
November 11, 2012 - The first set of Reminder PMs were sent out! Three months down!
October 7, 2012 - A prize update was added to the Prize post on the first page.
September 25, 2012 - Ysavvryl came on board as our second judge!
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Doctor: Do you know where you are?
Buffy: Sunnydale.
Doctor: No. None of that's real. None of it. You're in a mental institution. You've been with us now for six years.


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Life. The world. Reality. What's real? How do you know?

For this contest, the prompt is for you to explore this question. You are to write an original story about someone or a group of people living simultaneously in two different worlds. The worlds can be completely fictional or similar to our own. Living in two different worlds does not have to be literal. Do it however you want, through whatever means make sense to you, and make it your own!


Inspiration for this prompt came from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode entitled Normal Again, wherein the main character is stabbed by a demon during battle and suddenly begins to randomly wake up in an alternate universe where she is a mental patient in an institution instead of the slayer of vampires and demons as she has believed for years. It's only one episode of the rather long series, but when I watched it for the first time, it really made me think. It also seemed like such a cool way to explore a character, and I thought that this one little episode could have been an entire series or an entire novel's worth of awesomeness.
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Buffy: 'Cause what's more real? A sick girl in an institution, or some kind of supergirl, chosen to fight demons and save the world? That's ridiculous. A girl who sleeps with the vampire she hates?!? Yeah, that makes sense.

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-- The deadline for this contest is August 10, 2013.

-- The word count minimum is 15,000 words. It's a heck of a lot! I know I have never ever written anything so long before, but I'm determined that by this time next year, I won't be able to say that anymore. We can do this, people! We are writers, hear us roar!

-- There is no word count maximum!

-- Entries should be posted here in the thread when they are completed, either posted in junks in separate posts one right after another (since Gaia forums have strange limits to the amount you can fit in one post), or you may post the title and a link to your story on another site. I will then add your entry to the Entries list and link to it so that everyone can read the awesomeness that is your story! Make sure that you include your story's title either way you decide to submit it. As far as acceptable websites you can use to submit your entry, I don't have a preference. Any site that works for you! If you need a suggestion, however, then I hear fictionpress.com works well for submitting longer stories.

-- I'm willing to allow people to post a smaller portion of their entry in the forum, but not the entire thing. This way, only a short excerpt will be viewable by others, so it won't be out of the question to have your entry published in the future, and also people can read the excerpt to get a general idea about what they're up against (and maybe they'll like it enough to wanna buy it when it's published, eh?). The entire story can just be submitted through email to the judges.

-- There will be two judges. One will be me, and the other is Ysavvryl. Judging will take place after the deadline has passed next year and once everyone has their completed entry turned in, so we won't start judging until next year. Information about our other judge to follow!

Ysavvryl
I've been writing regularly for well over a decade now, attempting to get published one day (haven't been successful yet). I have a Bachelor's in English, with an emphasis in Literature and Creative Writing. Despite this, I'm one of the most easy-going people you'll meet about grammatical rules. As long as the message is clear, specifics aren't a big deal to me.

-- Also, entries won't be accepted until they are completed in their entirety, since I'm really hoping to encourage people to finish the story they start, and finishing a longer work is pretty much the theme of the contest.

-- More might be added if needed. Never really made a contest here before, so we'll see!
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Here is where I will compile a list of everyone who is interested in participating in this contest and would like to be reminded of the contest once every three months through PM. If you would like to be added to this list, please just let me know and I will add you. Once you're on this list, you will be given a PM every three months just to check in with you, see how your progress is coming, and remind you that you were interested in the contest in the first place.

A year is a long time to host a contest, so reminders can never hurt!

wahmbulance Note: Please let me know if you decide to change your username so that I can update this list! wahmbulance

1.) SaraIsImportant
2.) Reincarnated_Alphonse
3.) youphoria
4.) Theory Vale
5.) The Maiden of Midnight
6.) assassinine
7.) Kalista K
8.) Yutora
9.) chosen_anon
10.) Queen Bombshelle
11.) umbraja
12.) Hardcore Uvula
13.) fefe4ever2
14.) littletoyangel
15.) Miss Anthropy--x
16.) Adanon Pyre
17.) KurayamiYoshido
18.) I Be Athena
19.) Stormy Werewolf
20.) Iliani_1356
21.) solorn
22.) Uber Spain
23.) uraCodfish
24.) AndreaHarper
25.) youknowimaidiot

Note: If your name is struck out, it means that you've either changed your name or you have your PMs disabled or you've asked to be removed.
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First Place -- 1 Million Gold

Second Place -- 200k

Most Memorable Character -- 50k

Most Vividly-Depicted World -- 50k

Best Character Development -- 50k

Best Realism -- 50k

Funniest Scene -- 50k

Best Dialogue -- 50k


Total Prize Pot -- 1.5 Million Gold

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CONTEST UPDATE:

I've been thinking a lot about the prizes recently, and really, I don't feel satisfied by them. I don't feel like they adequately encourage people along in the process to get to the finish line the way that I want them to. It just doesn't seem fair that people have to wait around a whole year to get something out of this - besides the practice with writing, of course, which I'm sure we all find valuable in and of itself.

Therefore, I've decided that in addition to those prizes, I will be giving out 2 gold for every word you guys write for this contest, effective immediately. Write 200 words today, earn 400. Write 1000 words today, earn 2000. Have you already written 6k for this contest since its opening? Let me know and you'll get 12,000 gold for it. Eventually, once you hit that 15,000 mark, you will have earned at least 30,000 gold just for participating.

It doesn't sound like much, I'm sure, but I feel like it's at least serving the purpose of encouraging progress, even if you never do finish the story and even if at the end of this year, you don't have enough words to enter for the bigger prizes.

NOTE: Due to a limitation in current funds, I need to add a cap to how much you can earn from this. Therefore, you can earn no more than 50,000 gold from this prize update as of now, November 14, 2012. This might change in the future as I acquire more gold, but for now, this seems like a reasonable amount, as it means that you will earn 2 gold for every word you write up to 25,000 words.

Rules to Qualify:

-- The writing must be written for this contest.

-- You must show me your progress before the gold is sent to you.

-- You can get the gold in chunks as you write (for example: "I wrote 200 words today!" and then I'll send you a trade for 400 gold), or you can get the gold in one lump sum whenever you feel as if you've made enough progress to make the trade worth the effort (for example: "I wrote 10k these past three months!" and then I'll send you a trade for 20,000 gold).

Steps to Receive your Gold:

1.) Post in the thread how many words you want to redeem.

2.) PM me those words. If it is too long for that, you can use email or Google Drive (previously known as Google Docs) and then share the document with me if you don't wish for anyone else to view it. Simply ask for my email address in a PM and I'll give it to you.

3.) Accept the trade!


Gold earned from this Prize Update:

Hardcore Uvula - 4,116 gold
littletoyangel - 31,878 gold
Yume The Loving creature - 8,000 gold
Pobbit - 6,864 gold
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Here is where I will post any tips or tricks people give about how they go about completing a larger piece of work. If you have some insights to add, then just post them in the thread and if you like, I can put them up here too! =)

Reincarnated_Alphonse
The trick I do is mainly to figure out roughly where you're trying to go with the story right away. Try to figure out more or less where you're going to end it, though don't force yourself to end there if it goes off on its own tangent later. ((Stories tend to come alive and do their own thing. Just let them do it and surprise you. The story will be a lot better for it.)) All the same, knowing more or less where you're going will help you see your way through the rugged terrain of the middle, and give you strength to keep trying because you just HAVE to see the characters make it through to the end!

I also do my best to try and make the "less exciting" parts just as interesting as the "exciting" parts. They don't have as much action or anything, but you should never have a scene in your story that you don't need. It should either move the plot forward, or develop character. If it does neither, then you'll have to either cut the scene or not write it in the first place. I usually manage to avoid writing those scenes in the first place since they're dull as heck, but some people go off on a tangent for a while and then wind up in a dull scene and think they have to finish that stupid scene. You don't have to finish it. It's going to get cut anyway if you hate it, so why not cut the sucker now while you still have a little strength left and get back to a more interesting scene? If you think the scene is vital because it reveals something important about your story, find a way to tell that information in a way that won't bore you, or it'll end up boring the reader too.

Last, but definitely not least, know your characters intimately. If you can picture them doing strange things and then start laughing because that just sounds so much like that character, then you're probably starting to get to know them pretty well. Your characters should be fully fleshed out and completely human ((at least in the way they think and feel, even if not physically.)) Make sure you know in detail all their good traits, bad traits, and as many quirks as you can figure out. Knowing all of these will propel your story forward without you even trying, because you'll just know what your character would do next, regardless of the situations you stick them in. It may not be the choices you yourself would have made, but if it's believable for your characters to make those choices, then you're doing the right thing with them. Writing what comes next will just be automatic since the characters will be acting of their own free will because you know them so well.

Anyway, I hope that helps a little. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have, and I'll do my best to answer. I've studied for a long time on writing technique, so I'll try to help if anyone asks. ((Writer's block is a big struggle of mine though, which is why I'm frequenting the Gaia writing forums, since the contests kind of give me a kick in the pants, haha.)) Everyone has their own struggles.


Ysavvryl
What I do is... I write every single day. It's a habit I set out to get and a day doesn't feel right if I haven't done a little bit of writing. If I run into a scene that feels like drudgery to write, I will pause for a little while, read over it, and consider what's really necessary. Maybe the important part needs to be extracted and put into another scene. Or maybe it can be reworked to something more interesting.

If I run into a difficult but necessary scene (most often battles that I can't easily skim through), sometimes I'll promise myself a little treat when I get through with it. That can give a bit of extra incentive to get it done.


Victorias Doll
Obviously not all advice is for everyone, as there is no definite way of following a path that will basically declare "I'm a writer!". Most of the times, it's just a matter of finding out what works for you.

With me, I'm already use to writing longer pieces of work. Usually what I do is I sit myself down and write out a very basic plotline so that I'll have something to follow as I write, instead of writing randomly then getting stuck into a corner because I don't know what should happen next. If I feel up to it, I'll go into a bit more detail, but not so much that I'll grow bored of the actual work because I've already figured everything out. Plan, but leave room to adjust and add things as you see fit.

After that, which you can choose to do or not I just find that it's easier, is probably the most obvious step. It's already been said too, so I'll just simply repeat it. Write. Don't stop, sit yourself down and push out something everyday. I went to a writing retreat once, and our instructor told us that we weren't allowed to look back on what we wrote until we were ready to edit. That means write it, no looking back, no adjusting, just get it out of your system. Then, tuck it away for awhile so that when you come back to edit, it's new to your eyes and you can judge it as it is.

A last small piece of advice (I suppose) that I have found helps me greatly. For those who find themselves in a slump and unwilling to sit down and write for whatever reason, I've been there too. We all have. This I have found helps incredibly with that. Whenever I'm feeling lazy, I just read that and I'm inspired to write more. It may not be the same with everyone, but if it helps a few people get inspired then all the better.
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Some contestants have expressed the desire to have their story proofread and critiqued by one of their peers. Therefore, I am opening up a critiquing system I'm calling the Feedback Circle. If you would like to receive feedback for your story, then simply PM me. I will compile a list of the people interested in participating, and then I will pair you guys off. The pairs will be posted here as well as PM'ed to each individual in the pair.

After that, it will be up to the pairs to get together and help each other with critiques and grammar checks and feedback! Let's help each other out and create a community of people all interested in one common goal: writing and finishing a longer story!

Note: If you want feedback from a peer, then you're going to have to be willing to give feedback in return!

Pairs:

1.)
1.)

2.)
2.)

3.)
3.)
ENTRIES


1.) Yume The Loving creature -- Devoid -- 23,975 words

2.) Yutora -- When the Sky Split -- 15,116 words
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And we are now open for business! Feel free to post, express interest in being on the reminders list, or ask questions!
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I'd absolutely love to participate in this, and it actually fits in quite well with an idea I've been thinking on for a while. Definitely would dig being added to the list to keep reminded.

One concern, though: With the length, would that be too much to post realistically on the thread, or is there not really a limit? Would it be better to post a few thousand words and a link to read the story in its' entirety?
SaraIsImportant
I'd absolutely love to participate in this, and it actually fits in quite well with an idea I've been thinking on for a while. Definitely would dig being added to the list to keep reminded.

One concern, though: With the length, would that be too much to post realistically on the thread, or is there not really a limit? Would it be better to post a few thousand words and a link to read the story in its' entirety?


You have officially been added to the reminders list! Welcome to the thread. =)

Hm, that is a good point. I've posted longer works in these forums before and just posted big junks in separate posts because when you try to post the whole thing into one, Gaia tells you that you're not trying to write a novel (shows you how much they know, huh?). But providing a link from another site that better supports longer stories can work well, so I'll add that to the possible methods of submitting an entry.

Good lookin' out! =)
Tanabata Wish's avatar

Tricky Lunatic

Super awesome contest idea. I don't think I will participate jusr because I need to focus on the novels I've already got started, but I think this is a great contest. If you want help with judging or anything, I'd be more than happy to help with that.
Tanabata Wish
Super awesome contest idea. I don't think I will participate jusr because I need to focus on the novels I've already got started, but I think this is a great contest. If you want help with judging or anything, I'd be more than happy to help with that.


Thanks a lot. =)

Good luck on the novels you've already got going on (I've got almost three in the very beginning stages myself, blerg). I've been thinking about how judging is going to go, even though that's so far away. I might take you up on that offer for help judging. We could both read the entries, score them based on the same rubric, and then average the two scores to give each entry a total. Hmm...
Tanabata Wish's avatar

Tricky Lunatic

Limitless Stupidity
Tanabata Wish
Super awesome contest idea. I don't think I will participate jusr because I need to focus on the novels I've already got started, but I think this is a great contest. If you want help with judging or anything, I'd be more than happy to help with that.


Thanks a lot. =)

Good luck on the novels you've already got going on (I've got almost three in the very beginning stages myself, blerg). I've been thinking about how judging is going to go, even though that's so far away. I might take you up on that offer for help judging. We could both read the entries, score them based on the same rubric, and then average the two scores to give each entry a total. Hmm...

That would work.

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