Return of the Cyberspace Open

Time keeps passing, turning on mighty gears toward the future, and like clockwork with a tired mainspring the Cyberspace open has returned once again. The “fall” iteration of the contest has become the “fall/winter 2010-2011” version, with “fall” and “2010” being more of a marketing thing, since the contest is actually in January and February, with the final round running through late April.

I’ll be participating again as well; I haven’t done that well in my previous attempts, but I still have fun and I still learn a lot. Not a bad deal for eleven bucks. One of my favorite parts about the Cyberspace Open is hearing from other participants here on the pages of Muddled Ramblings. I’m looking forward to hearing back from a few of the folks who graced these pages last time around.

The format for the contest will be similar to last time: Participants are given a weekend to write a scene. The top 100 scorers from that round move on to round two, roughly six weeks later. (The delay is because the judges have to read and score a lot of entries, and provide meaningful feedback for each. Not a small job.)

Round two is different than in previous incarnations, and reflects a shifting emphasis for the competition as a whole. In the past, writers only had twelve hours to complete their second scene. (In the distant past, when there was a third round of writing, it was ninety minutes!) The competition has moved from being a test of writing under pressure to writing the best possible scene, and this year round two is an entire weekend, just like round one. I don’t think that works in my favor – more on that later.

Round three, like last “spring” (um… summer), is a competition between the top three scripts of round two. The scripts are read on video by aspiring actors, and folks are then able to vote on them. I’m not sold on this part of the competition, as the performance of the actors can make a big difference when people are supposed to be judging the script. I think it worked out pretty well last time, though, so I’m probably worrying too much. It’s what I do.

My own participation in the contest is a little different, as I have never made it out of round one. (You can see my earlier entries elsewhere in this blog.) Getting knocked out early hasn’t stopped me from participating in round two as a shadow contestant, however, and posting my work here as well. Interestingly, I think the scenes I’ve written with less time available have been better. We’ll see if I can break out of that this year.

I’ve made a few observations about what the organizers say they want, and what actually wins. As we get closer to the actual contest I’ll post some musings on that subject here.

For me, my mantra this time around will be ‘montageable’ (a tip given by a reader when critiquing one of my previous entries). Does the scene contain those moments that would go into the preview trailer and make people want to see the whole movie? That’s what I’ll be shooting for this time.

This really is a fun contest, one that is different than most of what you find out there. It costs a bit of money to enter (less if you act soon), but if you need something to kick your butt and get you writing this winter, you could do a lot worse. Check it out!

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