So, back in September I entered my first “cost money” contest. I actually felt a little guilty spending the money since I didn’t have a job at the time, but I had exactly enough money in my paypal account, which is money from my content articles, and considered it fate. Writing paying for writing.
When the results came out and I was not a finalist, I was a little disappointed. Thirty dollars down the drain. I knew I’d be getting scores, but I guess I didn’t have much hope that they’d really be helpful.
This weekend, I received the scores and comments. One judge was awesome enough to actually add comments throughout the whole document while another judge had two sentences of feedback total and the third was somewhere in between. I was dreading my scores knowing I hadn’t placed, imagining like a 10. (Which was even more disturbing because this is the ms I had submitted to a publisher). So, I was really pleasantly surprised to have high scores and positive comments and to see I was very high on the list of entrants (of course, not quite high enough).
And, in the end, the money was well worth the feedback. I agreed with almost all of it and they addressed things that, though I feel like I’ve learned since entering the contest, are really helpful. Mainly:
- I need better hooks. Not just in the beginning but also in the ends of chapters/scenes to make the reader desperate to keep reading.
- Every scene needs to move the story forward (not just give us information about the characters). (Coincidentally, I wrote that Queen of Boring post before I got my contest results which addresses this issue).
Overall, I now know where I could go back and enhance the story regardless of the results of its submission to a publisher.
So, yay, contest!