Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Writing contests are interesting in many ways. The feedback can be great or terrible, but in any case can give you a point of reference as long as you are true to yourself and not allow another person’s point of view ruin what you have good working for you. Again, at other times, if you hear the same criticism coming from several people, you might need to ask yourself if you are the one being bullheaded.

In deciding how to react to criticism I think it helps to really know your own style of writing. What makes it different from or similar to other writers? In order to stand out, I think we all agree it has to be original in several ways. How do you approach point of view? Is it different from others or a copy cat of many others in the marketplace? What is particularly different about your voice? Can you identify it? If you can, perhaps you can expand on it.

The one item I noticed from most people doing reviews in contest is that it appears to be coming straight out of a text book of how to judge. The problem is that most of the great authors that are best sellers never play by those rules. If you don’t think so, simple obtain a few of the top sellers and do your own review. Point of view jumps are very common. Writing in a passive voice is very common. I hope you understand what I’m saying. These authors are very aware of the rules, but don’t listen to them. Their object is to tell the story and make it interesting. They get away with breaking the rules because they can.

I’ve also heard that the main reason to enter a contest is to get in front of a certain editor. It is hard to believe that an editor is not looking for the next book that will make money for the publisher. There are other ways to get in front of them. While they say they are not taking submissions, they are still interested in looking. And when it comes to getting in front of an agent, they are almost always open for submissions without going through a contest.

And the last part in deciding if the contest route is good for you is the cost. With the money spent on entering many contest, the same money could possibly be spent with a professional coach that could help polish your novel and give you a wealth of knowledge to advance your career.

Still I know it is exciting to see your name on the list of finalist or as the actual winner. I have won before on a contest and walking up on stage is very exciting to accept your award. But when it comes to actually getting you published, I still have my doubts. And as many aspiring writers will still enter some contest hoping for the best.

With all of this said, the pathway of each author will be different. And in truth, it might take a little of all of the efforts to find the magic bullet. Still it is a business decision in how to spend your money and your time every author needs to address.

Johnny Ray

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