Columns > Published on June 16th, 2014

Arrest Us! Week Three Progress Report

Here we are, three weeks into our official writing event, Arrest Us! Even though we still have two weeks until our July 1st submission deadline, we have already wracked up north of fifty stories, and more are coming in every day. It's a pretty crowded battlefield out there, and the competition is coming on without mercy.

Since the stories are already ranked in descending order by rating, you can check it out at any time to see who holds the top spots. Many of these writers are members who have had some forging in the LitReactor engine, but I do want to point out that there are currently three newcomers who are holding their own at the top of the mountain. Chipped Gears, Evangeline Jennings, and e.h.mcneely all joined this month, just in time for the contest. If you've been on the fence about signing up and joining the fun, you can look to them for proof that new members stand just as much of a chance as everyone else here.

Now, since I've got you all here, let me take some time to respond to some community questions and comments.

I'll never get through all these stories. What's the best strategy for reading through the contest?

Everyone has their own method, but if you're looking to be fair, here's the best strategy that I and many other users employ.

1) Read the stories of everyone who rated your story. Leaving a good critique is time-consuming work, and while someone may not necessarily expect a reward for doing so, it's usually considered good etiquette to return the favor. This rewards our best reviewers with lots of feedback on their own work, so it's a practice we endorse heartily.

2) Hit the stories with no comments next. We have a pretty awesome user base that doesn't like to see lonely stories, but every now and then, a story will get overlooked and remain unread for a while. These stories are listed on the right hand column of the official contest page.

3) Finally, you can use the giant red randomize button at the bottom of the contest page to bring up a random work. This was a feature we implemented last year, and it's been pretty popular, so if you like a little danger, give it a try.

I'm getting negative reviews, but no comments. What gives?

We've decided against mandating comments for each thumbs-up/thumbs-down review. I know that makes it frustrating when you get a negative review without any information, but the idea is to make this contest as open as we can, and we don't want to discourage people from reading by giving them homework assignments if they're not interested in writing a review. Just as well, it preserves the anonymity of new users who may want to give feedback without feeling like they're making enemies by downvoting an established author.

All that being said, critiques are more useful as they get more specific, and writers are generally hungry for feedback that can make their writing better. If you do choose to review a story, consider pointing out what worked and what didn't work for you. It doesn't have to be more than a few sentences, and remember that the most successful authors are the ones who can accept criticism. We're a friendly bunch.

I think Mr. Bubblepants is cheating. What should I do?

Feel free to PM me, Kirk, or Rob with any questions or concerns about cheating. We haven't seen anything too suspicious yet, but we always appreciate some extra eyes out there. Remember that someone downvoting your story with minimum or no comment isn't necessarily cheating; someone downvoting every story might be. Drop us a line if you think something's up.

How can I get more reviews for my story?

Reviewing others is generally the best way to get people to check you out, per my advice above. It's good manners to return reviews, so the harder you work, the more views your story is likely to get. Also, you can drop your story into our official forum thread if you'd like. Remember that the link to your story can be posted anywhere, but the story can only be downloaded and read by people who have signed up for a free LitReactor account.

Can I change my story after I submitted it?

Yes, but I wouldn't advise sending in a first draft and revising it as you go. Any reviews you get will stay on your story page, even if you make major changes to it, and so bad early scores may not actually reflect the piece you consider finished. Also, keep in mind that the people who gave you the early revisions cannot rescore your story after you've made your changes. The best advice I can give is to submit something you consider as ready as it can be, and resubmit the story only with minor changes. Any major changes you make are unlikely to significantly change your score by the time you make them.

Reminders

The submission window closes July 1st. After that, you may no longer submit stories or make changes to the ones in the pool. You may continue reading and rating stories until August 1st. So if you haven't already submitted a story, you still have a couple of weeks, and anything submitted last-minute will still have a whole month to get read. However, our most voracious reviewers tend to get started early, so don't make us wait. Arrest us!

About the author

Nathan Scalia earned a BA degree in psychology and considered medical school long enough to realize that he missed reading real books. He then went on to earn a Master's in Library Science and is currently working in a school library. He has written several new articles and columns for LitReactor, served for a time as the site's Community Manager, and can be found in the Writer's Workshop with some frequency.

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