Last week saw Fourth Fiction followers eliminate the first of the contestants, on the world’s first blog based reality TV show, where readers vote off writers.
In a shock result Fido found himself barking up the wrong tree and narrowly avoiding elimination from the contest after he polled an equal portion of votes with the New Age goddess Isis. Host Constantine Markides, based his decision to send Isis home on a comparison of positive comments posted on both contestants first sentence – with Fido coming out on top. It is a decision not every Fourth Fiction follower is happy about though.
The voting anomaly may be a result of an influx of Brazilian readers who flocked to the site after Fourth Fiction appeared in a national paper.
Markides says he has received several emails from the Brazilian Fourth Fiction fanbase sharing saying how much they liked Fido’s writing. However Markides thinks there is a possibility the language barrier may have prevented others from making sense of what Fido was saying and resulting in them voting him off. What the actual reason is we’ll never know though.
I know several of my friends have said they have only warmed to Fido since hitting the contest with that amazing opening sentence, after a less than inspiring impact during the Twitter pre-contest build up and were shocked to find him up for elimination.
“It appears that our two contestants who received the most elimination votes–Isis and Fido–were also the most liked,” wrote Markides in a comment below Isis’s farewell statement. “I’ve received quite a few emails from people who were shocked and disappointed that Isis was eliminated.”
The Fido-Isis connection is an interesting one. Markides believes if the voting was constructed to poll favourite writers, then it is entirely possible Fido and Isis may have come out on top. Or is this the wisdom which comes with elimination hindsight -when readers are given a chance to vent in the wake of losing or almost losing their favourite writer?
And this is the beauty of Fourth Fiction – being likeable is not enough to get you over the line! We have to remember this contest was not set up as a popularity contest. Markides has thoughtfully constructed a framework in which only the writing is judged and not the people behind the writing.
Continuing the trend of a shared portion of the votes, polling an equal percentage of the votes at the opposite end were Fyor and Rhae.
Fyor hit the contest running with a graphic opening line, after a noticeable and perhaps strategic absence from the pre-contest twitter fest.
After watching his youngest brother stab his father to death over dinner with a steak knife, Jacob knew that any future doors to higher office had just slammed shut on him; he soon, however, found more efficient ways to feed his rising lust for power.
Rhae opened her spec-fic novella with an apocalyptic overview, proving you don’t need to have a character in your opening sentence to get it right with the readers.
It was in the year of the monkey, a mordant omen for the impending eve of human life, when the mass failing of the human spirit, first known as World War III, and then simply as The Cataclysm, began.
As a consequence of the tie neither Fyor or Rhae will have immunity going into the second round of elimination voting, meaning it is open season on all remaining eleven writers on the 23rd.
Twelve writers have had opening sentences posted on the outside participants page and it will be interesting to see how many last the distance given there is not impetus, other than the fun of participating, for them to continue on into December. Among the outside participants are Fourth Fiction Twitter fans such as @annasbones, @AllegroDiRossi, @noTxt as well as Fourth Fiction commentator @danpowfiction.
The round two literary challenge is:
Write the opening paragraph of your novella. It should be no more than 300 words, not including your opening sentence, and should be about interactions that take place over the web.
The challenge is not going to be to everyone’s liking given some, such as Utah, have already made overtures to the theme of the internet in their opening sentences and others such as Omar have a 13th century poetry epic about a blind boy.
On the surface Markides could be accused of playing favourites but a closer examination shows a savvy prompt to really push and extend the writers. The contestants who have “got it easy” given where their opening sentences placed their novellas, are really going to have to push the boundaries to come up with something special and wow the readers, given the imbalance the prompt has created between the contestants. Because there is no underestimating the wow factor currently perched on Omar’s shoulder to pull off this literary challenge.
It also gives a taste for what readers can expect for the rest of the contest and an appreciation for how difficult it will be for the contestants to construct any type of narrative arc ahead of time.
You can follow the progress of Fourth Fiction at Fourth Night with the website regularly updated with the contestants contributions. And stay tuned here for an interesting twist as readers have the opportunity to pull some strings of their own with host Constantine Markides.