Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A judge's critique

About a month ago, I entered my first writing contest. I had thought about it for a week before I did so; nervous at what I was getting ready to do. It can be an emotional time. I wasn't just going to let strangers read my work, but I was allowing them to judge it, to make their remarks on my baby. Yes, my baby! That's what it feels like to someone who writes. You spend months, maybe years creating the story. When it is done and you send it off. It is like giving birth. It may be a weird analogy, but there it is.

I have sat and waited patiently. Wondering what they were thinking as they read through my book. Would they like it? Would I get the comments back and find myself sitting in a corner somewhere crying uncontrollably because I found out that I stink? I am smart enough to know that I have not written the next Nora Roberts novel, but as with any writer you want to at least know that there is potential and that was my hope.

The email I got telling me I had not qualified as a finalist in the contest was a sad moment, but I took it well. It was my first book and my first contest. The only people up to this point who had read my book were my two CPs. I knew they were giving me their honest opinions on my work, but I always wondered in the back of my mind just how gentle they were being.

When I woke up today I would never have guessed today would be the day that I got my results back. I was about to see what others thought and to see if my CPs knew what they were doing. (Just kidding girls! You know I love ya!)

Three judges had taken a look at my book. One was a little more critical then the others but as they all three had said, it was their opinions, they didn't want to hurt my feelings and their goal was to help and see me published. Understanding that helps me not to take to much to heart. The best advice I had gotten was to go into it listening, yet cold and clinical.

I don't know what I can post and what I can't. I guess really it is up to me. It's my book and my results. I can say that there were 255 points total. Judge one gave me 95 points....ouch! BUT, she was very helpful and I appreciated everything she had to say. Judge two gave me a 195 and judge three gave me a 209. I must say I like those scores a lot better!! They all said the same thing and it is what I had hoped to hear. I had a great story and a lot of potential. Making the changes now is going to be easy because I know I have something to work with. I knew I had something to work with, but it was refreshing to know others thought so too. I tell myself I can do this. I have fixed things in my book many times. Heck, I switched the entire book from 1st person POV to third person POV. Not an easy feat to do and I still find a word or a sentence that I had missed. When you have looked at your book as many times as I have looked at mine, it is easy to skip something. Thank goodness for my CPs!!

So, now I am going to finish my brownie. I had gotten it as comfort food while I read my email but soon had forgotten it's existence. Then I will start the process of reading the email again and making notes. Then off to the book I go. Wish me luck!


  1. Kudos to you, Sarah, for putting your WIP out there to be reviewed. So far I've only entered one contest. I didn't final. But like you, I received important feedback.

    It takes a lot of courage to let someone else read your work. It also takes courage to read the comments with a critical eye and make needed changes to your WIP. The fact that you're willing to do so puts you one step closer to your goal. Congrats!

  2. Sometimes there is a long journey to reach our goal, but I think that just makes it that much more special when we finally do achieve it. You are a very strong minded and intelligent woman and I know you will take this criticism and make it work towards completing your goal. I can't wait till we all get to read your finished book.

  3. Thanks Jena and good luck to you also! I hope you were able to take your feed back and make it work!

    JoAnna, it means so much to me that you are following my blog; thanks for leaveing a comment. I am hoping to do right by the book and the feedback.It's hard though. A part of me is ready to have this book done. Three years is a long time to work on one piece!

  4. Well being that this is your first endeavor, I think that is perfectly acceptable. You are learning as you are going through the process, in the end, you will take away a lot of knowledge from this experience, and know exactly what steps to follow with the next one. I know after you get the first one out there, you will be popping them out right and left. I admire you for seeing this all the way through. Not all people who go in search of their dreams are tenacious enough to see it to the end.

  5. I concur with JoAnna and Jena. The fact that you have completed your first works period is an achievement in of itself. The point is is that you never give up. Just remember in life we are all learning something new everyday. When you received feedback from the judges you learned something you did not know or even considered before. It's hard taking criticism. I am one of the worst offenders. Pouting and stamping my cloven hoofs! LOL But in the end if it what is being stated is constructive and instructive then your work will be all the better.

  6. Thank you ladies. I am learning and I have enjoyed everything I have done so far. I'm going to take everything the judges said, sort through it and use the parts I think are the most useful to me. I will keep you posted on how it is turning out!