The 100 Word Submission is a writing format I've recently discovered online,( http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/ ) where authors submit 100 word stories spurred by a prompt much like the growing Freetext Friday plan. The idea has some merits and some flaws, and I would like to share my thoughts on it, and why the Citadel might be able to use it.
Brevity is the Soul of Wit
There are some monumental submissions on the Citadel, such as Captain Penguin's epic The Mountain of Boats or my own, the Sidereal Calendar. These submissions are highly rated, but are also simply huge. It took me months to write mine, and more than one sitting to read CPs. While great reads these really aren't all that useful for gaming, unless you find a way to spin them into campaigns in their own light. There has been a long trend of punishing short and brief submissions, while perhaps padding votes of larger, more wordy submissions. There is nothing wrong with a short submission, so long as it is complete.
The 100 Word post is roughly a paragraph in length, and forces the writer to be concise and to the point. There isn't going to be space for long rambling discriptions, florid purple prose, or tangents. In this format, the idea itself is showcased, rather than how much effort the writer puts into formatting, fluff text, statistics, and plot hooks.
That Seems Familiar
Another aspect of the 100 word submission is that it discourages writing something that is very similar to something else, ala my plot is about a band of heroes who have to carry a magic item to where it can be destroyed, and once stripped of whatever scene dressing it has, the plot is Lord of the Rings. Thus, good ideas and novel ideas can be separated from derivative and mediocre ones. While there is no real problem with using other material as inspiration, stripping one of your own ideas to a bare bones level can reveal unintended or unexpected similarities. Writing at this fundamental level allows the idea itself to be modified and reshaped where it can become its own unique creation.
Not up to Snuff
The Citadel has fairly high standards when it comes to writing, visiting other gaming resources and sites can often make us look like an English writing class with a major in fantasy gaming. Sometimes you might have an idea that doesn't feel like it is much more than a 3/5 submission, but the idea won't get on out of your head. The invisible trebuchet was one such submission. The idea has sat incomplete in my in work area literally for years, but there isn't anything I could come up to make it a submission of quality that I would accept submitting. There were ideas of adding fluff bits, or interesting characters, but these all eclipsed what I wanted to be the real showpiece, a stealth siege engine. Putting a good deal of effort into a submission and then submitting it can be difficult. Will everyone like it? Will someone find it useful? Will it be ignored, or will it be flamed because of some overlooked aspect or technical issue? The 100 word submission is short, and contains a core idea and a few corollaries and doesn't represent a major investment on the part of the writer. A 100 word submission should really not be more than a 3/5 at the best.
Aerith and Bob
There are often complaints about names and naming conventions, A name can be called too mundane, or too fantastic, or if a writer uses a foreign language to come up with names they can be called out on it, often to the detriment of the material in question. The 100 word submission plugs in generic templates rather than flourishing names and exotic adjectives. The Resplendent Queendom of Pottsdamington is reduced to 'the Kingdom'. While this does strip flavor and character from the submission, it also limits distraction by said discription, and using generic terms and template characters, no one's eyes are jarred by funny names.
The Springboard Effect
With the idea itself being on display, the writer can get feedback and ideas on the core idea itself, rather than on some aspect of the fluff material, description, or some incidental material that was part of the submission. This X submission should have been a Y submission, or This aspect of the submission was better than the submission itself, and should be expanded into it's own submission. The core idea itself can now be used as the seed of a full fledged submission, complete with all of the fluff and prose that garner the praise and accolades of the Strolenites.
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