Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Young Plagiarista Busted. BBC America hate grammar.

These links are from the blog of a comedy writer who was approached online by a college coed needing an essay in a hurry. Read and weep, or laugh like I did. This is a cheater's nightmare.

Nate's update from today is at:

Perhaps I'm only righteously gleeful about this student's misfortune because of my own bitterness. I'm full of sour grapes since I discovered that my short story was not chosen as the winner in a competition I entered for BBC America. This fact alone is not too suprising, so not very discouraging, given the numbers of entrants and subjective factors that go into judging. However, what shocked and disappointed me was the failure of objective measurement to exclude the Grand Prize winner they chose.

Here's one among many howlers: "With shoulder length blonde hair, blue eyes that sparkled, and firm high breasts that begged to be released from the confines of the tight, black embroidered waistcoat, Thomas was dumbstruck." I was dumbstruck, too, since the sentence decribes Anna.

To be candid, the competition was for novice writers who've published fewer than three short stories and no novel-length work. Under these guidelines, I qualified to enter, but did that mean I had to suck? Perhaps the contest's idea was that so-called amateur writers should write amateurishly, as if we never hoped to be mistaken for professionals.

I'd thought since the competition was hosted by BBCA and judged by, among others, an author who did a teleplay for the BBC's production of the modern Canterbury Tales, this would be a nice opportunity for some good yet undiscovered writer. Sure, I hoped I would be that writer, or that they'd publish a long list of finalists (nope), and I might at least secure a minor bragging right. I thought my adaptation of the Nun's Priest's Tale stood on its own whether or not one remembered Chanticleer's original adventure. I wordsmithed and restructured to make the 1900-2000 word limit, and it's the best super-short I've written, although I never assumed that guaranteed its success in the contest.

If you want to read mine, I'll post it for comparison. The full winning entry's here. Do you think it's good? Or is it, as one dear associate described it, "El Stinko"?

Adding insult to injury, members of my online writers' group recently informed me and other members that we weren't invited to their gathering since we're "aspiring writers." I responded, "How, after thousands of pages, can I be said merely to aspire to write?" Turns out unpublished is their special definition of "aspiring". Someone who's written two hundred words on choosing socks for the online edition of Hikers' Quarterly has made it. I aspire.

I admit to being a fiction writer and therefore having fewer chances to be published. I admit to primarily writing crime novels for adults, further thinning the number of possible venues while causing literary types to question my intellect and standards. I admit that I desire publication in hardcover. So sue me.

I take my work seriously. I'm productive and self-critical, and I leverage critique groups, writers' resources, and professional networking to improve my skills and aid my nascent career.

But I won't sit at the kids' table just because my dreams are ambitious. And I will not create writing that makes my annoying classification as ASPIRING and AMATEUR permanent.

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