Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Win $1000 in Unpublished Novel Contest

That well-developed muscle where the intersection of cynicism and skepticism spasm sporadically is currently twitching. But I'm willing to ignore it for now, if you're willing to suspend your belief system(s) as well.

Zirdland (sponsor of That First Line writing contest these many years) is hosting a new contest for unpublished novels. They're unabashedly up-front about their motives: After 4 years of development, it’s ready. Zirdland’s Story Arc Angel and analysis tool is in beta test right now. You can help us by entering our new contest. All you need is a completed novel that is unpublished. (Self-published works are acceptable.) There's no entry fee.

Since we're all being up-front about our motives, here's my request:

1. Explore Zirdland. It's not entirely up and running, yet, but it looks promising. What do you think?

2. Consider the Arc Angel Story Analysis. Can software really do this?

3. Think about registering a copyright for your novel. It's only $35 - $45.

4. If you're comfortable with the premise, enter the contest.

5. Come back here and post your thoughts. Collective wisdom far outweighs my humble little ploddings, and I'd appreciate knowing your gut reactions.

Bottom line for the contest:

  • No entry fee;
  • $1000 for first prize;
  • Enter as many times as you want;
  • Enter variations of the same novel;
  • You maintain all rights to your novel;
  • Only excerpts of top three are posted on-line;
  • Your win will be publicized (via a press release to literary journals, publications and our publisher/agent database)
  • The Contest ends at midnight on 10/10/08. The winner will be the highest scoring entry at that time.
  • Download a desktop widget so that you can track contest standings.
Oops, I almost forgot: they're sponsoring a screenwriting contest as well, which will open up as soon as the novel one is finished.


Nils said...

n tell, the software simply counts categorized words. Sounds pretty useless to me.

Nils said...

That was:

"So far as I can tell, the software simply counts categorized words. Sounds pretty useless to me."

Ken Kiser said...

I’ll have to look into it. Can’t say that I’m thrilled with the idea of giving up hope on my MS and treating it as “unpublished” I’ll have to see more about what effect it will have on my current submissions, or if I should wait until it is officially a “failed” novel.

Plus, it looks like it’s primarily an attempt to use our novels as guinea pigs to test and improve their automated story analysis software. Which will end up as the main reason for the “contest”. Must admit that I’m skeptical about the motivations.

I'm not trying to put down Zirland, but it's just not "foe me" at this point in my process.

BTW, I like the kind of articles you’ve been putting up lately. Good info for people new to the business.

Alex Moore said...

I'm curious about the comparison between classic literature and pop lit. Yes, nils, it looks like it uses category words -- which sounds too simple, yes? But I've learned to never underestimate the power of software. It continues to amaze me.

@ken: thank you. There's so much to learn about the publishing world; I'm just trying to record the things I learn as I go.

As for Zirdland, I don't think that they're looking for a "failed" novel: they're just wanting something not yet proven in the crucible of agent-action. I have to admit, though, that I haven't yet decided whether or not to put Ceilyn through the process. Still thinking.

joel said...
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joel said...

Good concerns, I must admit. But Zirdland's software does not count words. It's actually a much more involved process of looking at phrasing, word groupings and sentence mapping to determine the core "meaning" behind the text, establish emotional arcing for each character and character group, and derive a dramatic mapping of the work. It's been 4-years in development, and I must say it's surprised all of us how well it seems to work. Not perfect...and certainly, we need to test on a variety of genres, lengths, styles, etc...

That said, we ARE using your novels as guinea pigs. :)

So far, we've gotten a wide range of entries - some good, some bad, some extraordinary. It's very exciting and we're getting a good look at how the software responds in the real world.

We do appreciate feedback and input from the writer community. So, thanks to all!