The New Voices contest seems to be in full swing, and I have spent far more time reading entries then doing what I should be doing: writing.
I’ve tried to comment on the ones I’ve read, but I’m noticing that the whole rate/comment thing is kind of a minefield. The thing is, if you point out people’s flaws… well, there’s nothing they can do about it for the contest. And in a contest where you can’t go back and immediately edit your entry, that might be more frustrating than helpful. Although the right mindset to be in would be to accept it as something to work on in the future, you just never know where someone’s mindset is.
Also, with a rating system there is always going to be problems because everyone has their different view on what a rating is worth. Someone might give 5s to anyone that caught even a bit of their interest, and someone might give that a 3. It’s boggy ground as a reader, and something not to even worry about/get caught up in as a writer. As a reader, I’ve basically kept my rating scale as 5-I would immediately buy if in a bookstore, 4-I would consider buying it if I had extra money, 3-more ambivalent, would read it if it were free. Anything below that? Well, usually I don’t get through the whole chapter if it’s less than a 3 for me so I don’t rate or comment.
As a writer, I’m not trying to look at the little average my two voters have given me (also trying not to be put off by only having 2 readers). Because you just don’t know what it means and if you get caught up in it, you’ll only drive yourself crazy. Besides, in this first round, it isn’t about the commenters, it’s about the judges.
Added to all of this is the same factor that goes into getting published: it comes down to taste. Will your writing style, characters, premise resound with the taste of the reader? For example, I haven’t read any of the paranormal or historical entries yet, because that’s not what I would read normally. Because of my personal taste I have a hard time getting into these two categories. I plan on trying my hand at a few, but I’m not going to stick around as long as I would with contemporary or warm & cozy if it doesn’t grab me right away. Good writing is good writing, but I prefer to read a particular kind of story. So, because of taste some readers might be harsher in their ratings/comments then if it fits into what they enjoy normally.
Now, to dig my head out of the New Voices website and get back to work!