Let’s talk about writing contests today.
This has been a topic of discussion in several of my groups lately. I had hopes of entering Out of the Shadows in the Golden Heart this year. The RWA Golden Heart is kind of like the Emmys for unpublished writers.
I know, I have 2 novellas published (well, 1 comes out in December), but according to RWA guidelines, I’m not considered a published author. Except for this contest. Yes, I was disappointed at first, but I’m over it now. I’ll just wait until it’s published and then enter it in the RITA, the contest for published authors.
I have entered several other contests. Mostly last year. At the time, my manuscript wasn’t finished and in fact, the story arc is quite different then from now. I got a lot of confusing scores. Some helpful feedback and some not so helpful comments.
I never did final, although I got close a few times. It seemed that there would be one score that would knock me out of the running. In one contest there were only 2 judges. One judge gave me a near perfect score. The other was 100 points lower. 100 points! It was as if they had read 2 different manuscripts, or so it seemed to me.
I did get some helpful feedback. Some of the suggestions helped me clarify the story more and some gave me new avenues to pursue that would make it stronger. Some comments I questioned why they were included, even if the judge thought them. For instance, in my heroine’s POV, I described my hero as “tall, maybe 6’3” or 6’4”. The comment from the judge was “that isn’t tall”. Huh? Granted, I’m short, only 5’3”, so many men seem tall to me. But the average height for a man is about 5’10” or so. Anyway.
As I questioned my scores, or rather the vast difference between score 1 and score 2 for the same manuscript, I was told that often happens to writers with a strong voice. That’s good, right? Whether it’s true or not, I have no idea, but it helped soothe my battered ego.
After having the same experience time and again, I decided to give the contest circuit a break. I think, for me, this was the right decision. At least for now.
Have you entered any writing contests? What was your experience? Are there any contests you’re looking at to enter this year? What are your goals when entering contests?
15 hours ago