Officer’s Guide: Top Sims Contest for Beginners

Officer’s Guide: Top Sims Contest for Beginners

This week’s topic is on the Top Sims Contest, what it takes to win, and how to go about doing that. While the “Writing Challenge” is more of a personal contest, the “Top Sim Contest” shows pride in your ship and it’s writers, She’ll start with some Submission Guidelines to get you started.
Quick Tips

  1. You can submit ANY sim from your ship, or another ship. All sims are welcome, including command staff (Captain, First Officer, etc.) sims.
  2. Please find a balance between nominating too few, or too many. Don’t submit every good sim — instead, post every great sim!
  3. Also encourage your fellow crewmates to submit at least a few sims a year. If you want your crew-mates to win more often, you have to nominate the best sims, and encourage others to write higher quality sims.

It’s well said and understandable, but I still wasn’t sure what to think about how to choose properly, and it made me ask around. My first choice was Captain Kalianna Nicholotti; I wanted to see what her thoughts were in this matter in regards to a more personal approach.

  • “The Apollo, a lot of the time, is a great example. Top Sims shouldn’t be just dialogue; they should show deep into the event or the characters in the sim allowing the readers to really ‘feel’ what’s going on. Usually the sims I submit get an emotional response from me when I read them. Like a part in a book that is so good you want to laugh/cry/cheer/get mad/etc at the characters.”

The same question was asked of Fleet Captain Turner. She was far more technical and for me personally, her explanation was much easier to understand.

  • “[Make sure] It describes the situation clearly, with some background to how the character(s) got to that point in time, so it doesn’t leave the reader wondering. Grammar and spelling is as near to correct as possible. It shows emotion, whether in the words the character using punctuations correctly, or in writers descriptions. It holds the interest of the reader, and it not bogged down with descriptions that are overly wordy, and having nothing to do with the situation…The proper script form is used.”

Third person I asked  was contest facilitator, LtCmdr. Tan. His explanation has elements of both the previous responses:

  • “Be fairly free of typos and awkward grammar. Be free of anything a spell-checker should catch would be a good starting point, but we can be lenient for some writers when English is not the writer’s first language. Be engaging. A Top Sim winning sim should be something that’s interesting, a glimpse into their character, or their particular take on the Star Trek universe. Be fairly stand-alone. We’re judging the sim in isolation. Although sims which form the grand climax of a larger plot are often nominated, these generally only resonate with the crew of the origin ship, since they know the backstory. If a sim can’t be read on its own, or details inferred, then it’s probably not a good candidate.”
  • “Should start and end strong. This is good storytelling. A sim should catch your attention from the word go, and it should end on a strong note. The average sim is between 250 to 750 words, although JPs and longer sims may be longer; that’s not a lot of time to make your point. Pivotal moments, things that affect your characters or that would be lifetime memories, are excellent Top Sim candidates. Sims where your character dies, or loses an arm, or becomes a parent, or is born (there’s an idea!), or has their first kiss or is nearly assimilated by the Borg — if the character would remember it forever, there’s a good chance this is a strong sim for the readers. No open tags. There’s a bit of debate about the strictness of this requirement in regard to the rules, but even if it’s technically allowed they’re messy and detract from the sim itself. As I said, it should be stand-alone and self-contained. Evoke emotion. I’ve found potentially winning sims bring some kind of emotion to the table; sadness, joy, laughter. Make them feel it!”

*One more rule I didn’t find in the current guidelines, but was warned about, is the “No open tags” rule. Through some questioning, especially about the amount that can be added from a response into the original sim, I came to the conclusion that only the quote itself can be used, without any descriptions.
Few Submission Guidelines

  • Don’t clutter the title. Keep it short and simple: Character – Sim Title. Quote: Please do not clutter the topic title with an endless list of NPC or PNPC names or “JP” designations. Instead, simply include the primary character’s rank and name. If it’s a joint post, just include both rank and names — no need to include the “JP” in there.
  • Use the “Prefix” drop-down to select the round you’re submitting for – now comes the question how to be sure you chose the correct round number. If you know what to look for, you can always check it in the Contest Calendar. Another way is to check it from Newsletter, or if you’re not well acquainted with the calendar, keep in mind that the starting date of one round is ending date of the previous, and the start of the voting period for that previous one. So if you check the most current voting thread, if you’re submitting a sim, it belongs to the next round.
  • Always encourage your shipmates to read and vote in the contest, but do mind that crews found “stuffing the ballots” or ratings, will be disqualified PERMANENTLY. If you are voting, be fair and vote by merit alone.
  • To avoid any possibility of cheating,  there’s a run-off round which is voted by Staff Judges. This occurs only after several regular rounds of voting. If there is a tie vote, those two sims will continue to the next round of voting for a run-off.

Also – For a vote to win the final round, at least 10% of its votes must come from a ship other than the one the sim was created on.
Read thoroughly sims from your shipmates, choose the best of them and show the whole fleet what your crew can do. Participate, because without participation you surely can’t win.
Quick link to the Submission Guidelines!

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