May 24, 2010

Digesting Genesis Scores

I received my scoresheets from the second contest I entered, The Genesis, which was sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Overall I was happy with the scores. It was the equivalent of an A and two C's. Two C's, you might ask? Well, yes. For someone not expecting to final, for someone entering their very first manuscript into a contest, I would say those are pretty good scores!

It was so interesting to go through and read the comments made by the three judges. Some had some very detailed and helpful critiques that will definitely make my story stronger and more alive. It seems I struggle with backstory and info dumping. It's funny, because I had people read my story and say they were confused at the beginning and needed more background. Hhhmmmm. There's got to be a balance, don't you think?

There were a few comments that I thought were subjective. I know there is a wide variety of thought regarding what is appropriate for CBA. What is acceptable is changing fast and really, it all depends on the publisher you choose to target.

What I thought most interesting is the difference in the scoring between the Genesis and the Touch By Love contest, in which I finaled. The Genesis only accepts the first 15 pages of manuscript, while the TBL accepted 30 pages. I wondered if I would have done better in the Genesis if judges could have kept reading. One judge in the TBL told me my first chapter needed work, so most likely it really does! (I believe this is where the backstory and info dumping factors in.)

So as I begin to continue editing this book of mine, I will take the judges comments and sift through them, implementing the suggestions that seem to come from more than one judge. I will make the changes that make sense and make my story tighter and I will ignore the ones that seem to be more opinion than helpful facts.

I've decided I really like contests. They are a good way to get feedback and in some cases, get validation on this writing venture. I'm not going to enter any more this year, but will focus on making this story shine and hopefully begin a new and fresh stroy this summer.

What is the one thing you love about contests? The thing you dislike?

16 comments:

  1. I like the challenge of a contest. Dislike the waiting for results! Lol

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  2. Even when getting disappointing scores, I still love contests:-) it's the thrill of entering and the POSSIBILITY of finaling, ha!

    backstory... gotta love it! This too is subjective. I'd worked hard on both of my entries to put just enough tid bits (not info dumps) into the first chapter, sprinkling hints if you will, to let the reader know there is motivation and "more to come" and most all the feedback I received was great. however I STILL had one or two judges comment on too much backstory...

    I think there is a difference between following rules and using what works, and there are differences in how judges judge, as some grade strickly by the rules and others follow the rules loosely.

    So for backstory, I'd encourage you not to take it ALL out.. but to just drop hints as to it's presense, then reveal a little more as the story goes. Those hints are usually sufficient to entice the readers curiousity and let them not be left confused, but wanting more:-)

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  3. I've never entered a contest. I probably should have. Sounds like it would be a great learning experience.

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  4. I like the learning experience, but not the part where I don't know which opinion to go with. That is what is hard, because three views and they ALL conflict. What are you supposed to do?? If you take EVERY suggestion, pretty soon your story isn't your own. Great post, Sherrinda. :)

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  5. You really do get a lot more feedback from a contest than you do from critique partners and editors. But yes, they're very subjective. While one judge could absolutley love one line of your story, another might hate it. It's intersting to see so many varied opinions.

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  6. I like the feedback, if it's offered.

    I dislike realizing everything I did wrong--too late! :0)

    Glad it was a good experience for you! Congrats on the awesome scores!

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  7. Hi Sherrinda -

    Congrats! I also received my scores and comments. The judges were thorough, but kind. I'm happy that I ranked in the top 25% of my category.

    Some of my issues included setting and deeper POV. Overall, I found the comments on target.

    Since this is my first "real" contest, I don't have a basis for comparison. I'll definitely enter the Genesis again unless I get a contract between now and next year. :)

    Blessings,
    Susan

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  8. I have not entered any yet. Thank you for sharing your results and info you received. :O)

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  9. Man, CJ's reply was pretty much mine. :)

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  10. I value the feedback. I've sent off 47 contest entries since I began writing four and a half years ago, so I've received lots of comments and am grateful to the judges who took time from their own writing to help me with mine.

    Like you, Sherrinda, I like contests. One of those entries got my work before my Dream Agent, who requested the full and offered representation.

    Digesting the feedback can be tough at times, but it sounds like you have a great way of dealing with it. Judges' comments can vary and even be hurtful, but so can reactions from agents, editors, and readers. Learning to deal with conflicting responses to our stories before we're published can serve to prepare us for life after publication.

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  11. I had one judge flat out tell me my novel is not CBA. I wonder about the guidelines and how far I can push them. Obviously I've pushed too far. HUGE congrats on your Touched by Love final. Clearly you rock!

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  12. Well, of course the best aspect of any contest is WINNING! But seriously, it has to be the feedback. I too got an A and 2 Cs. I was a little disturbed by the genre confusion with some of the judges. I dont know if they would have judged it higher if they had figured out that my book is Victorian not Regency historical (the date was at the top of the first chapter). But at any rate I took most of the comments to heart and made some good revisions. I seem to be comma happy and my hero needed to appear earlier in the story. I have learned a lot from the Genesis and will enter again next year. Glad you did so well!

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  13. Glad you are pleased with your scores! As far as contests go, I love the input and the help to improve. I am not as crazy about the ones that you don't get any feedback. But any contest is an opportunity to polish something off and move ahead.
    Have a great week:)

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  14. I'm so glad you were able to get such helpful advice! I think with backstory, we do need to give our readers a frame of reference--those small details that help clue them in on what's happening. But most of the backstory should wait until later and be woven in seamlessly, almost as if the reader couldn't even pick it out if they tried.

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  15. GOod for you for finaling on that contest!! I like contests but always hope for some really good feedback. I haven't entered many but when I have, the information has always been valuable.

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  16. I am not a contest person. I've found it really doesn't do enough for me and causes me too much anxiety, so I've stopped entering. Good for you though, and it sounds like you have a great attitude about it all too!

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