Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Improvement in 2007

Subjectively, lately stories just seem to be better. In particular they same more textured, have layers etc.

But is that real or imagined? This is where having a system that allows us to comapre and contrast critiques is so valuable. Boot Camp uses my "Grid" a marking system that breaks a story down into 9 elements and has a wide range of marks from -5 to sometimes as high as 30, but "par" is 11-12-13.

When critiquers are forced to consider the different elements of a story, and whatever they say they have to put a mark down, there is no way to hide behind "woffle". If you say the opening is a 12 you are saying it is above par, interesting, and promises a good story. If you say 14 you think it's a pro's work; if you say 9 you categorically state it has problems, and so on.

Marks allow us averages, words are just words. But, because we have the grid-scores (elements and totals) as well as words we can look at an individual over time, or the group, and see if there's been much change.

(Change doesn't come overnight and the grid, once it gets to low 90s is almost geometric. 100 is about twice as good as 90 and 110 is twice as good as 100.

Anyway, we have the scores for all the stories for the year, so I plotted a ten story moving average (to even out fluctuations)

That showed an average of 92.5 over the first ten stories which FELL (to 91), then climbed steadily to 96, rocketed to 105, dropped back to 100 and is now 102.

If there really was a jump of ten points overall that would be amazing. (But I had put some stories in over the last 3-4-5 weeks and might be skewing the results)

Using a TWENTY story MA to smooth the graph yet more...

The average started at 93.5 rose to 95.75 then fell to 92.5 but then began a steady increase, almost a straight line to 103

As I said, I might be skewing the results, so I took my stories out and this was the result:

10 Story MA

92 at the beginning of the year slight rises to 96.3 falls to 91, rises with a blip to 102.7 then drops to 99

20 Story MA

93.75 at start rises to 95.5 falls to 93 then again, a steady rise to 100.5

A seven point averaged over a group rise is a LOT. We had a face to face course in late Jan/Early Feb and I warned everyone attending that for a while after their brains would be mush, their stories might appear to dip in quality before they regained their brains and start writing a level higher.

Interesting the dip then growth looks like the effect of the course (as predicted) and now (we hope) there's a real change in some writers.

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