After two weeks of nonstop reading, we are excited to announce our #NYCGO Oasis Contest Semifinalists: http://www.trazzler.com/contests/nyc/semifinals
Judging writing contests is never easy—we often have to eliminate entries that are very well-written, but don’t adhere to the contest rules or don’t quite belong on Trazzler. Our trips are different from what you will find on other travel sites. From the start, we decided to put certain limitations on the form and style of our writing to make the experience of skipping from one place to the next more enjoyable. As a writer, I also strongly believe that limitations lead to spontaneity and spark creativity.
We often get asked why one entry is chosen over another. As I was reading the entries for this contest, I took these notes (from the mundane to the philosophical—and admittedly a bit jumbled):
- Trip was created prior to the contest start date
- Self promotion—writing about your own business.
- Too long (Our limit was 160 words—we gave a little leeway, but many trips were much longer.)
- Misspellings, typos, lack of proper syntax, missing punctuation, missing spaces, abbreviation, or lack of capitalization
- Written in verse, not narrative, or otherwise not in keeping with the Trazzler trip page form
- Not about an experience that others can have or a place that others can visit (We had some very well written trips in this category.)
- Choice of place is too broad (We don’t publish trips on entire cities, our focus is much narrower.)
- No discernible place, more about a state of mind than a physical place or discrete experience
- Too personal—more about the person who wrote it than the place itself
- Too abstract or nebulous—no concrete information about the place (Trips about sunsets and sunrises are especially prone to this one.)
- Stylistically or lexically repetitive (in 65-120 words, repeated words or ideas stick out like a sore thumb)
- Syntactically repetitive; repetitive sentence structure (trips in which every sentence starts the same way: go here, do this, then do another thing, etc.)
- Too many cliched adjectives or verbal crutches… stunning, breathtaking, amazing, incredible, etc… (It’s best to do away with these words and evoke the idea of them in your description of the place.)
- Platitudes: X is the place to be. There’s something for everyone in X. You can’t miss X. X is the best. X is a definite can’t-miss, etc.
- Metawriting—writing about the act of writing (This is perfectly fine in a blog, but it doesn’t work in the context of our site, where we want each trip to be a microcosm.)
- Many exclamation points
- Not in keeping with the “oasis” contest theme
- Not travel writing; not appropriate for a travel site (Though I have to confess, we loved reading some of these slices of life and sociological sketches.)
- Too tied to one moment in time; not a reproducible experience
- Well-written, but the specifics or concrete details about the place slip through the cracks, making it hard to understand the significance of the experience without having been there.
I hope this is helpful. We have more information on our writing philosophy here:
Anatomy of a Trip