Writing Challenge Statistics

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
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Jun 28, 2012
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Connecticut, USA
Hey, Perp's back! Hooray!

I've been a bit lazy about the 75'ers lately. But I always enjoy the 300's, they've always been my preferred challenges. I think the higher wordcount combined with the looser format (in terms of theme) just suit me more.

TJ and VB, thanks for keeping the stats and charts going!
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
Hello Earthlings! or as they say in Treen military circles ‘Die Terran Scum!’

Actually their both loose translations – here’s one of our terran ambassadors speaking a greeting properly:



Anyway, my accountant informed me it was time to get my tax return in for His Grand Mekons Revenue and Customs, but I was frankly a bit bored of doing that and, well, had all sorts of other things happening. I’ve still got the motorboat/home fiasco to sort out. More on that later…

So just to shut him up I ordered him to do some analysis of the competitions known as the 75 & 300 worder. Now we had some excellent stats from the mighty and most honoured @The Judge – rightly pointing out the successes and brilliant stories that have done well in these competitions.

However it was not long ago, when I was a mere brainlet, where I gazed upon these competitions and wondered, what’s it all about? What should I expect?

So I ordered Bob to concentrate on the less glamorous end – we all know the winners – what’s it like for the rest of us, the grunts?

Therefore I have compiled the following (all numbers correct up till March 31st 2016, or at least to my knowledge correct):

VENUSIAN BROON’S GUIDE TO THE 75 & 300 WORDER FOR BEGINNERS (in stats)
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
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Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
PART 1 - WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

The 300 worder is held every three months, a picture released for inspiration, and is always ‘Science Fiction, Fantasy or other Speculative Fiction’. Thus giving four chances for glory a year.

The 75 worder, held every month, relies on a Theme and Genre, chosen by the last winner. What has come up in the last 72 competitions?


upload_2016-4-9_16-50-24.png


As can be seen the frontrunner for favourite genre pick is ‘SF or Fantasy’ with almost 1/3rd of all competitions using them, SF & Fantasy follow with approximately 1/3rd (I’ve taken the liberty to squeeze a few of the ‘weirder’ ones into broad definitions) and all the others take up the remaining 1/3rd.

Interesting fact –if Harebrain wins there is a 1/3rd probability that he will choose ‘Weird Western’ as his Genre.

Well, we are a SF&F and speculative forum, but it pays to be on your toes for quite a wide number of other genres coming in.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
PART 2 - WHAT TO CALL YOURSELF?

Now this might strike you as odd – what does a name have to do with anything? Just tell that to the inhabitants of the cluster of hovels that my battle computer has just renamed ‘TARGET ACQUIRED’. I think it means quite a lot to them... Well, it will in a minute or two.

Back to business though - do names influence vote-getting?

Let us see…

upload_2016-4-9_16-55-27.png


Since these competitions have started then (all these figures are for all votes cast so far), for the 75 worder it’s reasonably 'flat' – some dips in certain groupings - but for the 300 worder it seems better to have a name in the ‘upper half’ of the alphabet.

Here are the exact figures per letter, for your perusal:

upload_2016-4-9_16-56-21.png


Thus top five initials to get votes (on average) –

75 worder: H,T,U,C,P

300 worder: U,T,V,J,M

Interesting facts – No one with a name starting with Y has entered the 75 worder and no one with a name starting with Y or Z (or a number) has entered the 300 worder.

Venusian Broon does not suggest that having a name starting with an H in the 75 worder guarantees instant success, as perhaps you see it as a challenge to get your letter’s average up instead…
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
PART 3 - DON’T GIVE UP!

There’s a quaint old Terran tale about a fugitive king hiding in a cave. He sees a spider repeatedly try to climb up a wall, eventually succeeding after many attempts. The moral, we're told is, "If first you don’t succeed, try, try again."

This is a bit bemusing to Venusian ears, as Venusian spiders have 7 legs, are a minimum 4 metres in width, a nasty temperament and a liking for hardened body armour and dorsal plasma guns. What we’d say is "If you are running away from your enemies, don’t find yourself in a cave with spiders. They are very likely to succeed immediately at whatever they bloody well want to succeed at."

Anyway back to this matter. It can be disheartening to put a story in and not get a vote, especially at first – you are full of vigour, you try hard and put your heart and soul into your writing. However, writing is always a learning experience. You will get better as time goes on and so it pays to persevere.

In the 75 worder of the 446 total entrants over its history, sadly 200 entrants have never received a single vote – that’s 44.8%. In the 300, because everyone gets three votes to hand out, it’s a much nicer situation. Of the 195 entrants in total over its history only 43 entrants have never received a single vote – 22% of total entrants. However let’s break that total down:

upload_2016-4-9_17-1-12.png


Thus you see that the vast majority of this 200 in the 75 worder only entered once. The more times you enter the more likely you are to get a vote – it falls away quite quickly. Keep at it, improve and you shall get a reward. It’s even better in the 300 worder – to date no one on their 3 attempt has not received a vote.

We can take this a bit further, see the next part…
 
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Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
PART 4 - HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM DOING WELL IN "VOTE GATHERING"?

Clearly you know you are doing well if you win (see later) or get loads of votes but what’s the average?

The basic average ‘run rate’ that the figures tell me is that:

75 worder gives an average of 0.49 votes per competition per person.

300 worder gives an average of 2.1 votes per competition per person.

Thus you could use these as benchmarks to judge how 'well or not' you are doing.

But as we saw in the last section these figures are skewed a bit low, because of the large numbers of non-scoring first time only. If you stick at it, you should be averaging a bit more.

The following graphs are ‘Vote trajectories’...bear with me

upload_2016-4-9_17-4-1.png


upload_2016-4-9_17-4-18.png


Explanation – each point on the blue lines are calculated from the average number of votes gained by every entrant at that point in their competition history. Still scratching you head? So as an example, in the 300 worder Vote Trajectory, Bob the accountant took all the votes gained by everyone on their first attempt (turned out to be 397 votes cast) and divided by the total number of people trying (194) – giving ~2 votes on average. This was then repeated for all the votes received by those in their 2nd attempt etc… until we had plotted both blue lines in the graphs above. I'm looking at 'average personal performance' here, as everyone, right now, is at different parts of this 'trajectory curve' depending on how many competitions you've entered.

Both graphs get a bit rocky near the end, as only a few people have done all the competitions and so the averaging gets a bit volatile. I’ve sketched in a red trend line just too simplify the results.

Basically what I think it says is:

For the 75 worder – once you have entered 15 competitions you should be looking to get, on average a vote, per competition. And that seems to be pretty stable then on in.

For the 300 worder – The more competitions you take, the more votes you should get!

But remember, it’s highly unlikely that, even in a small group of writers and readers such as here on Chrons, a single story will take all the votes. That will also happen with all your work out there in public, so it's a good lesson to learn. No matter how hard you try there will always be people who just don’t get, don’t like or just like other things much better. I do think it’s important as a writer to think about the reader and try and write to a market…but everyone has their own unique style and it’s also about finding those readers that like what you do too.
 
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Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
PART 5 - WINNING

You have persevered, you are gaining recognition, and people say nice things about your work. But what about winning. What do you need to do?

You need to hit the winning bullseye

Bullseye.jpg


Yep, Bully is indeed Venusian (I mean have you actually seen an earth bull play darts?) We slipped him into your society when a clerical error in Treen armed forces procurement lead to us to equip three elite marine divisions with mid-range luxury speed boats instead of attack craft and half our army with holiday campervans instead of battle ready armoured personal carriers. (Although morale did go up as holidays away from Army base were greatly enhanced by these purchases.) So we have, for the past few decades been trying to get rid of our surplus of these vehicles on a wide number of game shows on other planets to try and weaken our enemies, ‘Bullseye’ being one.

Anyway I digress yet again– the 75 and 300 worder ‘bullseyes’ of victory - or a graphical account of the percentage of voters you need to gain a win:

upload_2016-4-9_17-9-18.png


upload_2016-4-9_17-9-28.png


Essentially it’s numerically easier to win the 75 worder – it has been won on a mere 6% of the vote on one occasion – the average is you have to convince, comes in at about 15% of other voters. The 300 worder is more difficult to win by comparison, the lowest winning score took a whopping 21% of a vote from every voter, and the average is 35%. (Normalised scores on the 300 worder chart mean I have taken into account the fact that basically 3 votes = 1 voter ... more or less, as I know such an assertion is not quite true)
 
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Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,530
Location
Edinburgh
PART 6 - SUMMARY

And so ends my trawl through a few facts and figures regarding these competitions.

Key messages – Don’t give up and persevere, the 300 worder seems the more forgiving of the two competitions (but is harder to win) and always take what a little green man says with a pinch of salt.

 
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