Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What we can learn from competitions

The M&B New Voices Competitions have closed with 1092 entries. Wow!
It never ceases to amaze me just how many people have a yen to become published writers! And I recalled that infamous quote from Oscar Wilde....There's a book in every one of us...and that's where 99.9% should stay!    As a reader am I ever glad that so many authors ignored his cynical advice.

I set myself a task of trying to read all the first chapter entries...but I fell abysmally short.  This competition hammered home to me the importance of your opening paragraphs. Just reading the entries was an education in itself. And in trying to read all the entries I now have a far greater insight in an editor's lot.

How do they not reach overload?  As I read through entry after entry I found myself becoming more and more critical so by the time I'd read about 400 entires by paragraph three I had decided if I wanted to read on or not.  In many entries it was all back story....that is what happened up until the moment the story started.
In others, punctuation was almost absent...it's very difficult for a reader to get into a story when you have to mentally punctuate writing before it makes sense.

Don't get me wrong there were some fantastic entries....and to me this is where a competition like this sucks. Big Time.  You get swept up in a really good entry  and you want to keep reading to see what happens next and.......waaaahhhh you reach the end of chapter one.

The other big surprise for me was actually how much of the craft of writing I've learned. I kept shaking my head.....saying basic error...basic error... So I really did try to leave constructive feedback where I could.

It is the first time I've ever entered a competition like this and it was truly an amazing learning curve. The feedback from readers was great. There are always the negative ones but sometimes they can be the spur a writer needs....but the ones who annoyed me were the nit pickers....especially one commenter who had the arrogance to call herself the grammar police.

I've always maintained grammar can be fixed.....but that wonderful inspirational creative voice is a gift from heaven and should be both treasured and nurtured.
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