Writing Contests December 6, 2010
Submitting your book, poem, or blog to a contest and opening up your work for criticism can be difficult, but it can also be a wonderful learning tool. After finishing a novel, I like to enter it in a contest. Feedback from actual readers of my genre is my reward.
Most of us have family members who like to read books, and they’d be happy to read our work, but does your kin read Historical Fiction, do they read Romance with steamy sex scenes? Do they read poems or novellas?
Here’s an important tip when entering a contest, find a contest that will fit your story, do not rewrite your story to fit a contest. If you feel the beginning of your book fairly rockets off the page, then fabulous, most of the entries are for the first 25 pages. If you feel the chemistry between your characters is the highlight, then perhaps the Between the Sheets Contest is for you. My point is regardless what you write, poetry, novels or even blogs, there are contests out there for you to shine and have your words read.
The cons of contests. And of course there are some.
You usually have three judges read your work and truthfully, it seems 7 times out of 10 there is one loony-toony in the bunch. A person who perhaps just didn’t understand what your story or poem was trying to convey, or for some reason they were bent on criticism the day they decided to judge your work. Here’s my advice, read back what all the judges had to say, then put the results away. Trust me, your brain will go over some of the comments in the next few days. Then when you are ready to hear your possible flaws, get your results back out and look for patterns. If two of the three readers commented on the same scene, then you should probably go back and look at the scene. I’m not saying you have to make the changes, just consider them, and see if you can understand the readers’ comments. In A Necessary Heir, I realized I had too much back story in the beginning and once I removed it voilá, finished.
At the bottom of your contest pages, you will be able to see the reader’s credentials for judging your work. Authors tend to be more critical than normal readers, but the comments can be useful and perhaps make your work better than you imagined.
So tell me, have any of you entered any contests lately? I’d love to hear from you.