Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rethinking Contests

I just received my latest contest entry in the mail today. I already knew I hadn't finalled, but am always curious to see how the judges scored my work and what they had to say.

And the results were typical. One judge gave me high scores, although she did find a few things to nitpick about. The other judge gave me a lot of low scores and had written all over the entry.

So, I decided to look over the high scoring entry first. She really liked the characters and story--as least what she could see of it from the first two chapters. And the few things she had problems with, I could agree with. I decided I would make a few changes before sending it out again.

Then I decided I had to look at the low scoring entry to see what she had to say.

To my surprise, although she'd given me some very low scores, she also gave me some very high ones. She also liked the characters and story, and made some very valid comments that I decided I also wanted to use.

The result was a very positive contest experience. This was the first contest I'd entered this story in and, although my critique partners loved it, I didn't know what kind of remarks I'd get from others.

I've decided to hold off sending the partials of this story out for another month, so I can take my time and go over those first two chapters again. I think this will give me a much better chance of getting requests for the full.

I'll also hold off on entering this in any other contests until I've made the changes. And these are changes I think are necessary to improve the mechanics of this story.

When I send this out again, I want it in the best shape it can possibly be. And after this experience, I really do want to enter this in future contests.


Denise Eagan said...

I'm glad you took it positively, Susan. That's more than I would have done. I hope you'll please remember that it's your story, and to only make the changes that reflect what you want to say--not what a contest judge thinks you should say.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Sounds like you received some remarks that you could use to inprove your story. I don't always agree with what judges say about my work, but sometimes I find good advice. I take the remarks more seriously if more than one judge says the same thing. :-) You have an excellent attitude about the judges' remarks.

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Dee and Jeanmarie.

My philosophy is, if I like a judge's suggestion, I'll use it to improve my story.

If I think they're off, I discard it.

But generally, I find if a judge likes the story and characters, her suggestions are usually good.

Nicole McCaffrey said...

I'm glad it was a positive experience and that you were able to look at everything so objectively. I was never able to get past those first knee-jerk emotional reactions, and that's largely why I stopped entering. But I think you've got the right perspective!