10 Writers of Today

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The God That Failed When He Created Man
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10 Writers of Today

Post by The God That Failed When He Created Man »

10 Writers in QB

10] Chris Ray – Chris Ray’s writing is extremely accessible. Sometimes this leads to problems such as too many easy bonus parts that are easy hard parts that are too hard etc.. However, he normally has an excellent ability to parts control both stuff like that as seen in last year’s Terrapin. However, when it comes to clue usage, Chris demonstrates a problem with using clues without considering whether they are useful or not, as illustrated by unnecessarily long tossups at this year’s Terrapin.

9] Andrew Hart – When it comes to easier events, accessibility and catering to the swath of the major number of quizbowl teams, Andrew is the best at writing accessible questions. His middle clues in these tournaments are never too tough, and his lead ins are always difficulty appropriate. But Andrew’s questions on a higher level are where his poorer writing creeps in. Some of the tossups that depict this poorer writing include La Wally, an Equador (fine arts) and Fourfold Root.* Also, he has a tendency to write on things he likes but that is not very noticeable compared to others on this list.

8] Ryan Westbrook – Ryan is an excellent editor and question writer. He knows how to order clues, etc. However, his writing suffers from an inability to figure out whether a topic is actually gettable before FTP or stock clues, and this leads to a heavy reliance on knowledge that is not gleaned from reality. In his FIST packets, his tossups on the battle of Hernani and The Firebugs show it. There are times when he hits the mark – when he writes on more canonical answers, (or edits them.) In these cases his writing is generally good. We can only hope that for ACF Nationals, he is able to improve his answer selection or have Zeke Berdichevsky ensure that his bad answers are not used.

7] Jonathan Magin – Jonathan’s tossups are tracable back to him. The other problem with his writing is his bad answer choices, like his social science concepts, because the clues he uses do not point directly at the answer. When he is not picking answer choices that suit his interests, he is writing questions that distinguish between top teams, reward real knowledge and are buzzable. In fact, that last part is his one of his strength: when he is not experimenting around, there is rarely a time where Jonathan’s tossup slips by a person who has knowledge of it because the clues that he uses are useful.

6] Trevor Davis – Trevor was the best editor at Chicago Open this year. Within his category of history, his writing was consistent and did not display any conflicting views of difficulty that were present in the literature, fine arts, social science … other categories, etc. His ability to generally maintain difficulty for an entire event should not be underpraised. Also, every one of Trevor’s questions has all the qualities good writing should have, and his skill in writing on a large range of subjects really helps him out as well. Like the next choice, his writing is comparable to that of Eric Mukherjee.

5] Eric Mukherjee – Eric has a tendency to write on trash topics that are whimsical, but his important writing is pyramidal, often on good answer choices and like Trevor Davis’s. He has a tendency to overshoot difficulty for lower level material I feel, but not by too much. That being said, he ranks higher than Trevor Davis because of his clue usage. I find Eric’s clue usage to be more interesting and it shows that he has done his research in finding appropriate clues in addition to making sure that they are buzzable.

4] Jerry Vinokurov – Jerry has a charming habit of defending questionable ideas despite their questionablity. Jerry also writes questions that are too hard and his answer selection often follows a pattern that you can predict. I would rank him in front of Sorice and Berdichevsky, but his predictability usually comes bolted with his overly difficult difficulty and this leads to a lot of problems. Jerry has a writing model that should be emulated when it comes to pyramidality, clue usage, etc – especially at open events, where tossup length and other issues that affect playability for lower teams do not matter.

3] Zeke Berdichevsky – Zeke’s sole event this year was ACF Nationals and that tournament was able to distinguish the top teams. There was a problem with too many bear paws in the honey jar when it came to editing, (only the QB gods know why Guy Tabachnick and other people not of smoking age {at least, I think there were other people in high school were editing} – that surely made the set more uneven, in addition to having zero idea of what ACF Nats should be) but what Zeke was able to do made sure that it had a sense of unity to it. He editing this tournament with Ryan Westbrook and others with science will hopefully produce a quality tournament – better than last year’s ACF Nationals.

2] Mike Sorice – It is really frustrating how he is so late with just about everything he does. That being said, his writing is very paradigmatic of what writing should be. His writing is pyramidal, makes sense, his answer selection follows no personal pattern … the list of his good writing goes on.

1] Seth Teitler – There is nothing wrong with Seth Teitler’s writing, except for the fact the questions he writes are produced by a human. Almost everything written by Seth Teitler rewards knowledge, is accessible, is pyramidal, and is the Platonic form of question writing on all levels. He should take on something like editing an open tournament like Chicago Open because you know he is one of the only people who would be able to lead a tournament nestled in Cloud Cuckoo Land to a vision that would given Chicago Open its identity given his talents. The one flaw Seth might have is that for an open tournament he would be unable to move away from writing on too easy things, and not throwing in enough exciting but gettable answers.

* I am not sure that these tossups were written by Andrew Hart, but they are not good answer choices, so I presume it is.

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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by theMoMA »

Does anyone else find it amusing that this person is trying to tell us who writes well?
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Cheynem »

Is this a parody of something? Forgive my ignorance because at my current lack of sleep state, I have no idea.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by setht »

The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:There is nothing wrong with Seth Teitler’s writing, except for the fact the questions he writes are produced by a human.
I'm working on it.

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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Captain Sinico »

The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:Mike Sorice – It is really frustrating how he is so late with just about everything he does.
I'm working on it.

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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by suds1000 »

Captain Sinico wrote:I'm working on it.

MaS
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

When I grow up I want to be just like Trevor Davis.

EDIT: I'm not saying Trevor isn't worth emulating, I just found the characterization whimsical.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by grapesmoker »

The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:Jerry's... answer selection often follows a pattern that you can predict.
Interesting, anonymous commentator. Various criticisms have been made of my questions before, but this is a new one to me. I'm genuinely interested in what way I am predictable so that I can perhaps stop being so predictable.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

grapesmoker wrote:
The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:Jerry's... answer selection often follows a pattern that you can predict.
Interesting, anonymous commentator. Various criticisms have been made of my questions before, but this is a new one to me. I'm genuinely interested in what way I am predictable so that I can perhaps stop being so predictable.
You keep on writing questions on things like "physics" and "real philosophy." Stop it!
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by grapesmoker »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:
The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:Jerry's... answer selection often follows a pattern that you can predict.
Interesting, anonymous commentator. Various criticisms have been made of my questions before, but this is a new one to me. I'm genuinely interested in what way I am predictable so that I can perhaps stop being so predictable.
You keep on writing questions on things like "physics" and "real philosophy." Stop it!
Well, I'll be the first to admit that there are a few topics you're not likely to find in a packet written by me, but I do consciously try not to repeat myself or to write questions that are predictable to people who know me. I do this because otherwise it gives an obviously unfair advantage to some people; if it's turning out that I'm way more predictable than I thought, maybe that's a problem.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Mike Bentley »

grapesmoker wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:
The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:Jerry's... answer selection often follows a pattern that you can predict.
Interesting, anonymous commentator. Various criticisms have been made of my questions before, but this is a new one to me. I'm genuinely interested in what way I am predictable so that I can perhaps stop being so predictable.
You keep on writing questions on things like "physics" and "real philosophy." Stop it!
Well, I'll be the first to admit that there are a few topics you're not likely to find in a packet written by me, but I do consciously try not to repeat myself or to write questions that are predictable to people who know me. I do this because otherwise it gives an obviously unfair advantage to some people; if it's turning out that I'm way more predictable than I thought, maybe that's a problem.
I mean, when I hear that a packet is written by Brown I think "I bet there's a good chance there's going to be a computer science question in this round", but that's pretty much it. Plus, I bet that when a lot of people hear the packet was written by Mike Bentley they think "there's a good chance there's going to be a computer science question in this round".
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

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The God That Failed When He Created Man wrote:7] Jonathan Magin – Jonathan’s tossups are tracable back to him. The other problem with his writing is his bad answer choices, like his social science concepts, because the clues he uses do not point directly at the answer.
Do you have any constructive feedback on how I could improve my writing, anonymous commentator? This is not sarcasm; I'm always looking to improve.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by grapesmoker »

One thing that occurred to me is that writers have their styles. I know that I will never be mistaken for either Jonathan or Seth, for example; anyone who is familiar with the styles of writers will be able to tell who wrote what with some appreciable accuracy. I don't think that's the same thing as predictability, though.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Heh, I just got around to reading this post. This list is ridiculous. Trevor Davis is a fine dude and he writes very competent stuff in his areas, but he ain't the sixth best writer in the land. And, I have a lot of respect for Mike Sorice as a player and an ambassador to the game, but he ain't the second best writer in the land.

I'm tired of personal knowledge bases and individual preferences getting in the way of the evaluation of writing and editing skill. We need to make a very firm distinction between writing style and writing skill. Seth Teitler is a superlative writer with a lot of "skill" because he knows how to order clues, he carefully words his questions, he has a very comprehensive idea in most subjects of what clues have come up before/what clues people can buzz on/what clues are stock, and he can write science (a skill that many writers dont have).

By contrast, Teitler's "style" is, generally, conservative and simple...and he writes using a very accessible answer space. His usual modus operandi involves taking answer lines that have appeared many times and finding new clues, and he rarely goes too far out on a canonical limb. He also tends to write shorter tossups than many on the list and get buzzable clues out fairly early on. Sometimes, like all of us, he tries common link ideas that have mixed results - the tossup on "chairs" at FIST for instance (which I liked, but many apparently did not).

The "skill and ability" level of a writer is something very different from his or her style. You may like Seth for his no-frills accessible style, you may like Magin for his scholarship-intensive approach, you may hate Jerry for his labyrinthine and eclectic tastes, you may hate me for my avant-garde and pro-canonical ways. But, those feelings have nothing to do with the skill of the writer.

Lastly, I didn't write that Battle of Hernani tossup.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

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Heh, an ambassador to the game. I have images of Sorice traveling through foreign lands, introducing folks to the ways of the FIFTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by marnold »

Heh, as hilarious as it might be for Seth to be taken to task for "chairs," that was my questionable idea, not his.

Also, I'm pretty convinced this list is some kind of subtly brilliant outsider art.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Keep in mind that this list never claims to be ranking the writers. It purports only to be a list of 10 writers of today. It seems to live up to this.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by Gautam »

Whig's Boson wrote:Keep in mind that this list never claims to be ranking the writers. It purports only to be a list of 10 writers of today. It seems to live up to this.
I'm not sure it about this. It seems to progress towards "the best writer of them all." Tp me there's no reason why the author of the post would have gone 10-1 had he not intended to rank the writers.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by theMoMA »

I don't know if this list is terribly flawed as a top ten, but I certainly value what defines the best writers differently. Great writers are not only capable of excellent clue construction in tossups and bonuses. They are creative, pick great answers, and come up with ideas no one else thought of, even if that means taking occasional risks. They can gauge difficulty and answerability well. They aren't content with their areas of strength, and strive to be great writers in many areas of the distribution. They research their questions well and rarely make lazy mistakes that affect playability. Their grammar is understandable and they double-check for mistakes that make questions hard to understand. They are dependable and on time. And they write and edit a ton of questions.

The writers I admire most are Jerry, Seth, Ryan, and Gautam. Though their styles vary quite a bit, all of them are versatile, prolific, hard-working, dependable, and never stop looking for new ways to ask about what they suspect people know. All of the writers that our budding John Lyly mentioned are excellent, and I'd add Rob, Matt Weiner, Bruce, and Eric Kwartler (I'm certainly missing a few good ones, [edit] like Dennis Jang as Jerry points out) to the list of the best active writers.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by grapesmoker »

Dennis Jang is consistently underrated as a writer, probably because he doesn't post on the forums very much. But he's really very good.
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Re: 10 Writers of Today

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Man, that's a great post by Hart. I couldn't have better enumerated the qualities I value in a qb writer.

And, I second the notion that the Minny team can write - Rob, Hart, and Gautam are all very solid writers who produce a lot of good new stuff.
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