Friday, October 18, 2013

What I learned from the Writing Contest!

A little over a month ago I entered one of my manuscripts into a RWA chapter contest for the first time. While a lot of people enter these things to have the editor at the end read it, I entered to help the chapter because this is how they fund many of their activities and their entries were low. I grabbed one of my work-in-progress, cleaned it up some, and then ran it by a critique partners. Then I submitted it to the contest. I did have that thought though that if I finaled, I'd add the credit to my list of writing achievements.

While in bed, my phone pinged on my nightstand. The email said that I *did not final*. WHAT?! I was shocked because my manuscript is amazing. It is the sequel to another book and the characters are awesome. But I didn't final!! This is my response:

Me (saying this to my honey): I didn't final in the contest. I SUCK as a writer.
Honey gave me lots of hugs and kisses and said: Babe, you do not suck as a writer. Why didn't you final?
Me: I don't know.

And then the next email came. The one that says why I didn't final in the contest. The email that comes from the two judges and gives their critique of the manuscript. The very thing that confirms why I suck as a writer. It is my score cards! And... my honey had fallen asleep so I climbed out of bed to head to the computer to check this thing out.

I opened the first score card. That judge generally liked my story. She gave me all good scores but had a few comments on where I needed to improve.  These scores lifted my spirits some. And then the score card of doom came. Almost the lowest scores you can get on EVERY section. I even had two well accomplished authors help me with the synopsis and still received a poor score. As my kids would say: I was butt hurt.... and that lasted all of five minutes. Here is why:

  • Both judges had complaints in one area. My hero was too mean. Yes, he was the jerk in the first book and needs to start out that way in the second. Because both of the judges said the same, I'm going to lighten his character up a little bit. They also said that the heroine needs to be tougher. I will also do this too. 
  • One judged liked everything else and the other judge didn't. I've learned that I will always feel a ping of pain when someone doesn't like my book... but: 
  • I can't please everyone. Some people will love it while others hate it. I need to remember this so I can stay true to the story and true to the characters while listening to the valid comments of people regarding my work.  
  • I've judged this contest many times. Now that I've been on the other side of the situation, I can take my experience and be better judge in the following years. 
And today I feel a lot better and I don't suck as a writer! 


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