By Debbie Kaufman
Since tomorrow is round three of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Recipe for Success Write-Off, I thought I’d take a minute to discuss contest in general. They are, at time, a helpful tool of writers everywhere and, at other times, the bane of our existence
Before I was published, I played with two different levels of the writing contest game.
Enter to get critiques and feedback. For me then, it was all about improving the craft. But, even at this level, I followed a few basic rules that carried on with me.
1. I proofread and then got someone else to look at my work for errors.
2. I Read the rules and submitted accordingly.
3. I always ended on a strong hook, even if I could have entered more of my work. Better to keep the reader/judge wanting more than to give them more and a ho-hum ending.
4. I sometimes changed my opening for maximum impact, even if I considered some of the information I left out to be necessary overall to the story. After all, I figured if you don’t get a judge’s attention right away, you’re sunk.
If this is your level, may I suggest Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Contest? Great critique value!
1. I took the feedback from contests, etc. and applied it to my new contest entries and the story as a whole.
2. I chose contests one of two ways: ones with judges who were the people I most wanted to get my work in front of for publication or the ones that winning brought enough prestige that it would get an editor’s or agent’s attention in a query. I still suggest the Maggies. There are many others, for example Chicago North RWA’s Fire and Ice, a contest I won a few years ago with my suspense, and the Daphnes (suspense), a contest I finaled in and got the attention of the agent who later signed me..
Despite my deliberate plans, no matter why I entered or what contest I entered, I couldn’t control the judges I got. And face it, there’s always one. It’s nothing personal, but someone just isn’t going to like your work. Be prepared.
Be also prepared to accept that being a major contest winner is no guarantee of success, just like not winning is not a sign of failure. My first book came in third in the Maggies, but was published by Harlequin Love Inspired Historical. I also entered it into the Golden Hearts, and the same words that my publisher raved about didn’t make it to the finals. Such is the way of contests folks.
Now, as to our contest, the Recipe for Success Write-Off, everything I said in level one applies.
1. Don’t give us typos, unclear POV, constant verb tense changes, and other writing 101 errors.
2. Rewrite your opening if it isn’t compelling enough as it stands. You can always change it back on a full submission to an agent. (But, they like compelling, too)
3. Enter again. If you didn’t make it in round one or two, throw it in again. However, may I suggest a hard look at the previous suggestion first?
So folks, polish your entries, and get them set for tomorrow. We want your first 100 words or less, polished, ending on a hook, and ready to take on the competition. Go for it! Best of luck.
About Debbie: Debbie Kaufman writes award-winning historical stories and enjoys spending time with her husband, her four children, her three grandchildren, and her two dogs. Follow Debbie on Facebook, Twitter, or check out her website.