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Work Room - Week 2

The Work Room is your space to bang around the topics to generally figure out what the hell you are going to do - with the help of your fellow writers.

It's a work space.

Given the nature of this mini-season, you can also use it for forming new teams or recruiting new members to existing ones if that's what you feel like doing.

The new topics are up: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/870987.html

***

Some general things I observed from Week 1:

Formatting issues seemed to be a "thing".  Not sure if it's because people are posting from phones or not, although that seems to be the popular theory.  If so, just be aware of how line spaces are going to be read.  If that's not the case - or if you are someone who might need someone to look over your work, this is a really good place to ask for a second opinion on whatever it is you are working on.

I always mention this - but it's always relevant. There was a contestant years ago (wow, it's years ago at this point!!) who was writing these incredible pieces, but early on was really suffering in the polls.  She had her default set to a black background with green text (because it looked cool).   Granted, there were some people who used "view in my style" but that didn't work for everyone.

Once it was mentioned to her, she switched things over to a more readable style and ended up *in the finals* of that season!

Sometimes it can be something as little as "How easy is this for other people to read" that can get you the attention you deserve. After all, they are already putting in the effort of showing up to see what you are doing - you should make it as easy as you can for them to do so.

Speaking of "making it easy":

Also there seems to be an issue with CAPTCHA being required to post comments. It's your LJ, and you can certainly do whatever you want with it. Just be aware that there are some fellow contestants, as well as community supporters who are blind or visually impaired who will not be able to leave you any feedback on your writing.

There's more - but I figure I should just throw this out into the pit:  What else have you noticed (not naming names, but general "this might need to be fixed going forward") issues.  I'm not just looking at the veterans here, because often times it is the newbies who see things that never were an issue before, and now are!

Comments

( 102 comments — Leave a comment )
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tijuanagringo
Dec. 11th, 2015 03:50 am (UTC)
Good advice. Appearance is sometimes almost everything.
kehlen
Dec. 11th, 2015 06:34 am (UTC)
I have to chip in on this:

if you can, check what your entries look like from a desktop and a mobile device. You may be surprised by the differences, even in your own style.

(I was during the intro week week, but the changes as seen from my tablet were not catastrophic.)
banyangirl1832
Dec. 11th, 2015 03:56 am (UTC)
First (second!) in the Work Room? Cool-o!

Boomerang is really speaking to me right now. "Faction" (fictionalized non-fiction) about a dude I met last summer who was my first real foray into something resembling polyamory. He's been haunting me a lot lately and hopefully writing this will cure it.

On the other hand, spoons makes me think of kitchen fiction, which I LOVE writing.

Follow me isn't doing anything for me at all. Decisions, decisions...

And I've got pretty much... tomorrow afternoon to write this. Fun!

Edited at 2015-12-11 03:57 am (UTC)
tonithegreat
Dec. 11th, 2015 04:57 am (UTC)
"Follow me" spoke to me the most out of the three! But in a memoir/blog piece kind of way and I always think that fiction has the potential to be more powerful.

Sounds like your Boomerang entry could be intriguing!
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kickthehobbit
Dec. 11th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC)
My brain went Uri Geller. I dunno if chronic illness is all that obvious. :)
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kathrynrose
Dec. 11th, 2015 04:10 am (UTC)
My brain must be in a motion picture zone, because my first thought for "Boomerang" was Children of a Lesser God, and my first thought for "Spoons" was The Matrix.

My biggest suggestion for everyone is to read your piece out loud while you're editing. It helps to hear if you're using the same word over and over. No matter how important widgets are to the story, if the word "widget" is used four times in the first five sentences, there's probably an opportunity to combine sentences and write it tighter.

I'll also say that, particularly while there are so many of us, consider how long your entry is. Even when our numbers dwindle, it's going to take really great writing to keep my attention to the end of a very long piece. That said, when the writing is excellent, longer pieces don't feel as long as they are.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Edit. Edit. Edit.
kickthehobbit
Dec. 11th, 2015 04:53 am (UTC)
I really hesitate to tell people that they need to watch length, especially "early in the competition". I try to keep a handle on how long my pieces get (because I worry about pacing and whatnot), but...the friends of mine that have told me that they didn't finish reading because it was "too long" or that they felt I would benefit from "a good editor to lop it in half" are also people whom I have seen struggle in workshop, because their stuff isn't long enough. There's a fine balance to be hit.

I have definitely asked myself at different points, "is this something I want to write for Idol?" because we have a limited amount of time, and sometimes, the ideas I'm coming up with are novelette length (I couldn't do them justice in under 8000 words).

I rarely if ever find myself going, "I need to cut the length of this down for Idol." I definitely respect everyone's time—I try to post early, for instance—but I also feel that I need to respect the story, and sometimes, as much as I would like to write 500 great words and be done, that's not going to happen.

I try to get someone to read, and sometimes they give really great suggestions about what can be done to improve the pace ("cut this section of exposition, it drags and you never go anywhere with it")—but I think that the focus on length that some people have for Idol (where they won't write over x number of words for the entire competition) doesn't work for everyone, and can be harmful for some.

I fully recognize that I'm probably in the minority on this—it's rare that I don't have time to read the pieces, and that's a luxury, I know. But I would urge people: don't let the piece suffer just because you are worried about a word limit. Write it, show it to someone you trust, and ask them to be honest with you about whether the pacing works, if it drags anywhere, do you need to cut anything, etc, etc. :)
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Dec. 11th, 2015 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
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kickthehobbit
Dec. 11th, 2015 04:40 am (UTC)
I read ridiculously fast (fast enough that people like fodschwazzle go, "YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE READ THAT YET"). It helps a lot with getting through pieces in the early weeks, and yes, I read everything for this week (though I very obviously didn't comment on everything—social anxiety makes that a bit of a nightmare, so unless I know you really well, or feel that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't tell you how awesome your piece was, I don't comment).

Having read everything for the week, I feel pretty comfortable saying: good formatting is a must. Everything I read and enjoyed was formatted well. If you are not sure how something is going to be formatted (because livejournal doesn't always play nicely), paste it into Notepad and look at it before you post it. If it's formatted well in Notepad, your piece for the week will be fine.

Something else...if you can have another pair of eyes go over your piece for the week, DO SO. Learning how to write and write well is a process (and something a lot of us, myself included, are working toward!), and even just getting someone go to, "I liked this, but the part about [x] didn't make sense to me?" can help you, a lot. We can't see inside your head, so if there are parts of the story that just don't add up, we can point them out to you.

I can't speak for anyone else, but IN THIS REGARD, I AM WILLING TO BETA-READ FOR ANYONE THAT ASKS. JUST PM ME, OR LEAVE ME A COMMENT IN MY JOURNAL. I'm not totally selfless—if you have the time, I'll ask you to read for me—but I'm willing to do "this is/isn't working, keep this/change this, there are errors here" for anyone that asks for it. I'm not perfect, I don't have a ton of experience—but it's good, for me, to look at and critique other peoples' work, because it helps me figure out what is and isn't working in mine.

So yeah. :)
heinleinfan
Dec. 11th, 2015 04:55 am (UTC)
Another pair of eyes is great. Except when...it doesn't work. I had a very specific tone I wanted to set with my piece. Three people read over it for me before posting and they all got that tone. They all had the responses I was wanting to hear, I felt fantastic, I was like "Okay, I can do this."

And then pretty much every single comment I got as people read my piece, very clearly they read it in a completely different tone. They were reading a totally different story then the one I'd written, and the one my 3 pre-readers had read.

I've been beating myself up over it all week, trying to figure out how I failed so badly at imparting what I wanted to impart. And why these 3 people *did* read it that way, but barely anyone else did.

(no subject) - kickthehobbit - Dec. 11th, 2015 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
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ellakite
Dec. 11th, 2015 05:10 am (UTC)
I'm tempted to write a "companion" piece to my Week 1.0 entry, which would explore the origin of the "original" wizard named Xerin -- The story could fit the prompts BOOMERANG and FOLLOW ME.

Or maybe you folks are getting bored with my "saga"...
oxymoron67
Dec. 12th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC)
I'm not bored with it at all. I think you should run with it.
kathrynrose
Dec. 11th, 2015 05:50 am (UTC)
Also, is it just me, or is there some kind of subliminal somethingorother going on with the different font on the Follow Me prompt?
kehlen
Dec. 11th, 2015 06:26 am (UTC)
Not just you, I see it both on my desktop and my tablet. Probably comes from copy-pasting from some file.
(no subject) - clauderainsrm - Dec. 11th, 2015 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xo_kizzy_xo - Dec. 11th, 2015 09:11 am (UTC) - Expand
kehlen
Dec. 11th, 2015 06:24 am (UTC)
Follow me like a boomerang while I play spoons, haha. Couldn't resist.
tijuanagringo
Dec. 11th, 2015 06:28 am (UTC)
Hey!!!! You saw it!!!!!!! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY it drove me absolutely wild with desire to write it down when I first put the three together. So HAPPY someone else thought of it too!!!!!
(no subject) - kehlen - Dec. 11th, 2015 06:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xo_kizzy_xo - Dec. 11th, 2015 09:12 am (UTC) - Expand
tijuanagringo
Dec. 11th, 2015 06:26 am (UTC)
.
I have read through these comments so far and enjoy the feeling they give me for personalities behind the writers here.
.
Then I turned my mind toward the topics and suddenly it hit me that I could be really wacky and put them all together as one.
.
Nuff sed.
.
emperor_smooth
Dec. 11th, 2015 06:32 am (UTC)
https://youtu.be/Qiu3rvYveSg

Enjoy the earworm.

I'm going back to bed lol.
(no subject) - logical_fallacy - Dec. 11th, 2015 12:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - murielle - Dec. 14th, 2015 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - idekmybffjill - Dec. 14th, 2015 12:35 am (UTC) - Expand
prog_schlock
Dec. 11th, 2015 07:38 am (UTC)
Playlists based on the three topics. Now in "no embedded video" format for your convenience. Please add your own!
lordrexfear
Dec. 11th, 2015 08:02 am (UTC)
I'm still reading last week's entry and here we go again.

I haven't even replied to the wonderful entries on my week 1 post. Time glies and gets away from me.

I try my best. I'll try better.
xo_kizzy_xo
Dec. 11th, 2015 09:23 am (UTC)
and another question!
How do you approach reading entries, especially this early in the game?

Do you sit down at your laptop/desktop and do marathon readings?

Do you get notifications from LJ/Idol whenever there's a new post/entry so you can immediately read it and respond?

Does it depend on what device you use the most?

Me, for instance: I was saying in a message last night that I think I spent a grand total of maybe 20 minutes on my laptop yesterday. However, I have an android, and it'd be so much easier to be able to set notifications on it so when somebody posts on the topic I can swipe to it and read it, say, during a break or lunch. However, I don't think my phone has that capability. Do iPhones?

In the past I've done the marathon reading. The trouble with that is that I need to do it in chunks or else I'll forget who wrote what (spreadsheets and me don't mix, don't ask). Or my head will explode because of the sheer number of entries to read.


Edited at 2015-12-11 09:25 am (UTC)
kehlen
Dec. 11th, 2015 09:55 am (UTC)
Re: and another question!
I have a spreadsheet and I do a mix of randomly choosing people from it (it includes journal links) and reading those who comments on my entry.

The thing is, I don't read before I have written my own piece (because then I loose focus and could try to not repeat the subject someone else has already used, like this week with dog adoptions) and that leaves me little time to read as thoroughly as I like.

So I read as much as possible (and marathon last night, yes), but rarely all, and then next week I start with contestants whom I haven't read the week before.
RE: and another question! - idekmybffjill - Dec. 11th, 2015 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: and another question! - whipchick - Dec. 11th, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: and another question! - kickthehobbit - Dec. 11th, 2015 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: and another question! - alycewilson - Dec. 11th, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: and another question! - anyonesghost - Dec. 11th, 2015 09:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: and another question! - roina_arwen - Dec. 13th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
kehlen
Dec. 11th, 2015 11:41 am (UTC)
Hmm. It just occurred to me that larger teams potentially have an advantage over the smaller ones: if every team member votes for each of their own (not a given but likely), then a 5-member team starts with a 5-point average, and a 3-member one only with 3. Could potentially be critical.
tonithegreat
Dec. 11th, 2015 02:19 pm (UTC)
That could have even been enough to make a difference for Week 1, too. The team side of things here is harsh. It's definitely a different dynamic. For some reason, I had it in my mind that the low man on the low team would be bumped to the individual competition, not outright eliminated. I think we're gonna loose some strong writers early from the team set up.
(no subject) - clauderainsrm - Dec. 11th, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
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alycewilson
Dec. 11th, 2015 07:41 pm (UTC)
Not sure which of these topics appeals to me yet. When I had first signed up for this season, I'd hoped to explore more parenting topics, to augment a book of parenting pieces I'm putting together. Then my own mom died, and my mind just hasn't been in the right space yet.

"Spoons" makes me think of the fact that my step-grandfather used to play the spoons, but there's not really a story there. It also reminds me of a family who lived in a dilapidated house next to my brother's best friend. They called them the "Spoonheads" because they'd found some sort of twisted, moldy spoon on their front lawn one day and thought it really symbolized them. I drove by the Spoonheads' house lately, and it was overgrown with kudzu vine.

"Boomerang" makes me think of destiny and repetition. That the things you try to throw away from you inevitably come back. Could also make for an interesting poem.

"Follow Me" isn't really speaking to me at the moment. I'm primarily thinking of Boy Scouts, though, because my brother is a troop leader and just posted pictures on Facebook of some arts and crafts projects his scouts were doing.
kathrynrose
Dec. 11th, 2015 08:18 pm (UTC)
"Spoons" makes me think of the fact that my step-grandfather used to play the spoons, but there's not really a story there.

I think there could be. I was also thinking that i used to know someone who played the spoons, but it's not something you see people do anymore. There are a lot of things like that. Things we used to see or do when we were kids that your son and his contemporaries may never see or experience. It might be interesting to write somethig that would describe them to him, or share the experience in words.
(no subject) - alycewilson - Dec. 11th, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kathrynrose - Dec. 11th, 2015 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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