Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Contests

You know I wasn't going to moan. I was going to use this blog to communicate good thoughts and not moan. But now I'm going to moan.

Arghhh. Can you feel my frustration? My teeth have been locked together since I opened my mail today. I got my Daphne du Maurier contest sheets back. Now for those who don't write, I'd better explain what the contest thing is all about.

I'm a member of the Romance Writers of America (see link)--OK, so I'm not in America nor am I an American, but RWA is the premiere professional organization for romance writers in the world (IMO). RWA has chapters (usually regional, but some online) and I belong to the Kiss of Death Chapter (see link) which is another fabulous resource for writers interested in writing romantic suspense and/or mysteries.

Chapters run contests (usually the first 15-30 pages of your manuscript).

The reason people enter contests is for a) feedback, and b) more importantly, if you make it to the final round, you get read/judged by editors/agents. And let's face it ladies and gentlemen, that is the end-game for the unpublished writer.

So I didn't final, tough. But today I got back the scoresheets and really looked forward to some constructive criticism. Now six of the eight judges (I had two manuscripts entered) gave me super feedback--including one 128/128 by an award-winning, published author. Great stuff, my little heart got all fluttery with praise.

Enter two judges who obviously did not get and did not like my story. Comments like:
'nice setting, but I'm not familiar with it'--huh? What does that mean? Surely it is irrelevant?
'Sorcha' How do you pronounce that? Is it really a difficult name? I mean some Irish and Scottish names are pigs to pronounce, but Sorcha?
'Too much concentration on exact words takes focus away from story'--I thought using the exact words was the name of the writing game?

The last comment really bothered me. I have spent a lot of time learning the craft of writing. Just because I'm writing a romance doesn't mean it shouldn't be well written.

The authors I read all pay attention to and use the exact right words. I try to keep the rhythm of the sentences, keep the flow smooth and avoid jarring phrases. I'm not wordy just for the sake of filling up a blank page--I consider/revise what I write. I don't use unfamiliar words, well OK, maybe they are unfamiliar to some people, but to writers? I don't use anything my five year old can't say. So basically I'm very irritated (I won't swear, my m-i-l reads this :))

So although I'm grateful for the time and energy that the judges put into their marking, I just wish for once I got that magic judge combination, where they all liked my story and I actually got the chance to final.

As my diving buddies used to say...Life's a Beach and then you Dive.

7 comments:

  1. Hi toni,
    Just stopping by to say hi and thanks for the comment at my blog.

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  2. Anonymous2:11 am

    Hard luck, the frustrating thing is that the judges are never any better at it than yourself.
    Pop

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  3. Anonymous2:17 am

    don't be so hard on yourself..I think 8 out of 10 is ........good!
    m-i-l

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  4. I’m glad you did well. I don’t get the pronunciation thing either, LOTR had loads of hard to pronounce names but was a best seller. They should mark on enjoyability (if that’s a word)

    I will endeavour to get one of the books you listed at the weekend… but as I am to read a hole book (and I am a slow reader) I would be grateful if you would try one of my recommendations. If you haven’t read it already I would love to know what you thought of ‘a leaf by nigle’. I can tell from your blog you are busy but it is only a very short story, might even be on the net somewhere.

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  5. (()) You know what I've been told? If they either love you or hate you it means you have a strong writing voice! So smile. And if they think they have to be familiar with the setting then that's narrowmindedness (word?) I don't want to be familiar with all my settings. Hence part of the reason I read. To travel first class at coach rate if you get my drift. Sorry about the contest but CONGRATS On the perfect score from the pubbed! WOO HOO!

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  7. Thanks Sara, pop, jean, Kim and new_friend.

    Contests are pretty subjective and I'm not that bothered, just a little disgruntled to be at people's mercy (he he he). I did get lots of comments on my writing 'voice' which is the one thing you can't really learn so I was fairly happy.

    I will read Leaf by Nigle (Niggle?), I loved LOTR but it was years ago I read it. I will track it down somewhere. Like you say it may be on the net

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