This week I want to talk about the nomination form. Whenever a story is
nominated, the author fills out a form describing it. The form can seem as
long as Boromir's quest to Rivendell :-P, but it is very helpful to both the
readers who will review your story, and to the volunteers who will sort the
various stories into categories and subcategories. I thought I would talk
about how the various information is used. I've written this week's post
mostly to the authors, though I think it will be helpful to readers as well,
as it shows you where the website gets the information displayed to you.
The form begins with some very basic information, which is mostly used to
help us make sure your story is eligible. (Some of it is also useful to
categorizers and people reading the story.)
You can change your story URL if you like. If someone read your story one
place (and so used that URL), but you prefer the version you have posted
somewhere else, go ahead and switch it out.
The Story Type and Story Length serve two different purposes, though your
answer to both may be similar. Story types are for categorizers. We will set
up special subcategories based on story type, so that all the drabbles, and
all the poetry, and all the WIPs compete against each other. (For MEFA
purposes a drabble = exactly 100 words, or a series of the same.) You should
select the story type that you most want to compete against. So if your
story is both a poem and a drabble, you should decide whether you want to
compete against other drabbles or against other poems and select that as
your story type.
(A quick word on WIPs. WIPs are by their very nature still being written.
The information you give us should reflect your story *at this time*. If
anything changes, you should contact us and we will update your information
for you. This includes finishing the story, but also if its rating changes
or if you want anything else on the form updated. Email any changes to
Story length is more purely for your readers' benefits. Many people will
want to budget time to read longer stories, so identifying your story as a
novel lets your reader know, "don't leave this one until the last minute."
Aside from drabbles, we don't automatically categorize based on length. If
you *want* to compete just against longer or shorter fic, you should select
the Genres: Longer Works or Genres: Ficlets main categories as one of your
choices. (Drabblists don't need to do this, since they're already competing
against other drabbles.) Of course, novels and ficlets are also welcome in
the other categories as well.
We don't require authors to label their stories as slash or het (or gen!)
per se, because for many readers the pairing is more important than that
distinction. Some may find Fingon/Maedhros more plausible than
Aragorn/Finduilas, or vice versa. However, we do ask that you list any
romantic pairings that are important to your author, and that you label
gender if it isn't obvious. (You may use 'm' for male characters and 'f' for
females, if you don't want to give away the characters' identity.) This
gives readers the info they need to make an informed decision, using
whatever factors are most important to them.
Once we have this basic information, it's now time to move on to the info we
use to sort your stories into categories and subcategories. At the MEFAs,
every story gets put into a main category and a subcategory. You tell us
what main category you want by choosing your first, second, and third choice
categories. These can be certain genres (including lengths, like Ficlets or
Longer Works), races, or time periods. Categories will then be divided into
*sub*categories, groups of 6-12 pieces, and that's the stories you'll be
competing against. But categories are very important, too. All the stories
in your subcategory will come from the same main category.
Basically, the categorizers will
1. Look at all the nominations that selected "Races: Elves" (or whatever) as
their first choice category.
2. Divide that up using the story type.
3. If there are between 6-12 entries in that group, then that group will
--- Races: Elves: Drabbles
--- Races: Elves: Incomplete or
--- Races: Elves: Poetry
4. If there are more than twelve entries we break the stories up further,
using the other questions in this section of the form.
5. If there are less than six entries, we start moving stories around, into
their second or third choices.
That's an imperfect description. There's a lot more involved, other factors
we look at. I'll talk more about these issues in a few weeks. For now, I
just want you to note how the main category choices are used. You should
select as your first-choice category the kind of stories you *most* want to
compete against - even if it's not a perfect description of your story. And
on down the line; your second choice category should be where you'd want to
compete if your first choice isn't available, and so on.
For instance, if you have a story about Maglor bumming around Dol Amroth
well into the Fourth Age, you may *still* want to select First Age and Prior
as one of your category choices, since the "Post-Ring War and Beyond"
category is likely to include stories involving LOTR characters.
The category choices can also be used by readers to find all the stories
involving a certain time period or about a certain race or of a certain
genre. But their main purpose is to set up subcategories. You shouldn't
select a main category choice, unless you would be okay if your story ended
up competing there.
You'll also find questions about "Characters for Categorization," "Story
Setting," and "Subgenres." This information may be used when setting up
subcategories - if we have too many stories of the same type in the same
main category. For instance, last year we had six full-length finished
stories competing in the Horror main category, and about ten times that
number in the Drama main category. We have to break up larger categories to
make things fair, and we use these questions to do that. Stories involving
the same character might compete against each other in the same subcategory.
This gives us a good way of breaking down larger categories.
Some of these questions are used by readers as well. Readers can find all
the stories that selected a certain location or subgenre, when deciding what
to read. But its first purpose is to set up subcategories. So if you have a
story about Frodo in the weeks after the Quest, that's technically set in
Gondor; but you should only select Gondor as a location if you want your
story to compete against other stories set there - *all* of them, like
stories about Gondorian politics or Boromir's and Faramir's childhood.
The last section of the form is more purely for the people looking for
stories to read. Readers can pull up all the stories based around a certain
event, or using a certain source material, so this is a great way to
"advertise" your story. It also helps get your readers in the right frame of
mind. I read both movieverse and bookverse, gladly, but I like to know which
I'm reading. Otherwise, if I am expecting bookverse and there's a detail
from the movies, I may find it jarring. The sources question helps you avoid
Readers can also filter the search list based on characters. The website
looks at the "characters for readers," not the "characters for
categorization," when a reader asks for a list of stories involving a
certain character. The characters for categorizers, from the previous
section, is just to help us set up subcategories. If you want readers to
know your story involves Boromir, or Finarfin, or whomever - you need to
pick him from this second list.
One last thing - at the very bottom of the form you will see a space called
"Nomination Notes." This is mainly for authors and different volunteers to
record things they want later volunteers to know about. The MEFAs is very
much a team effort, which means that different people may be working with a
nomination at different points of the award. But there's one thing you can
put in the Nomination Notes that's new this year.
If your story is posted more than one place, you may want to include an
alternate URL. Sometimes websites go down, either temporarily or
permanently, during the course of the awards. If this happens, and if you
give us a back-up URL, we'll change your URL for you. Providing a back-up
URL allows us to make this change quickly. (If people can't read your story,
they can't vote for you.) But this back-up URL is completely optional, so if
you only post one place, that's not a problem.
So, that's how we use the information you give us when we fill out your
form. Some of it is intended for categorizers, and helps us sort your story
into an appropriate subcategory and category. Other questions are geared
more toward readers, and helps the people reviewing stories find stories
they'd like to read. I hope knowing that helps authors use the form more
effectively, to show off their stories in the best way possible.
Authors, if you have specific questions, you can take them up with your
liaison. But if you (or anyone!) has general questions --if anything I've
said here is unclear-- go ahead and ask. :-)
For more information:
--- What should I list for romance partners?
--- How do use my category choices?
--- How do I find a story to vote for?