Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's All in the Eye of the Reader

So, I got my contest score sheets back...didn't open them for a while - just held it and stared at it as if, by my will alone, I could affect the comments. Finally, I did it. Unfortunately, hubby was standing right next to me (this is my hubby who insists on my using a pen name, doesn't get that I can't write a novel and get it immediately published and asks on a regular basis some form of "show me the money" - usually after I've spent $40 on a contest entry).

Right on top was a gorgeous certificate that I can hang up right next to my clipboard of rejections (sort of an "in your face"). Underneath were the score sheets and comments. After I learned how to breathe again, I read them and I'm feeling really good about them.

Three judges (which was odd, I thought there were four... but that's neither here nor there):

#1. 57 pts out of 60
#2. 58.5 pts
#3. 33 pts

Some comments:

Judge #1:

You have a great sense of humor.

I love Camilla's voice. A great beginning. Keep it up and I look forward to buying it.

Judge #2:

We get a very clear sense of both characters and are eager to learn more.

Great dialogue, very natural.

Excellent (mechanics) - voice/style very readable, love the touch of humor, the building sexual tension.

This is a great start ... very likeable characters. I sense you've got a winner here!

Judge #3 (this one only made two comments):

Heroine seems a little backwards, not like a contemporary woman - her dialogue in particular is hard to identify with.

(Overall) Not bad but storyline and characters could be more interesting. Needs more plot, more story, more hook and less eccentric characters.

So, don't hold back, tell me what you really think... lol...

I found this to be terrifically eye opening - two loved it, one pretty much hated it. Such diverse opinions - especially in regards to dialogue and characterizations. Really goes to show that no matter what or how we write, some folks will love it and some will use it to paper the birds cage.

Camilla needs a lot of work, but this was (mostly) a warm fuzzy to help me keep going. Now I just need to work on Jed's internal motivation - something pointed out to me by the two judges who did actually like the story.

I'm off to have a conversation with my hero. Hope he's in a talkative mood.


Bernita said...

According to Stephen King "On Writing" if two out of three critics like something, then you are on the right track. These comments sound very positive to me.

Marianne Arkins said...

I'm feeling really good -- that two judges really, really liked it somehow made it okay that the other thought it reeked!

I love the "On Writing" book - it's something I turn back to constantly and will remain a favorite on my writing bookshelf.

Thanks for visiting!

Charity said...

Whoo Hoo! Good for you! These really are good scores, but judge #3 slays me, especially with this: Needs more plot, more story, more hook and less eccentric characters.

She read what? The first three pages? You can only “cram” so much plot into the first three pages. While it can sometimes keep you out of the finals, extreme scores are often the sign of a strong voice, and I think that’s what came through in your entry. The problem I sometimes have with WVU is we often try to please everyone and we simply can’t.

So congrats again for your first time out of the gate. Hey, I had an idea for synopsis “training”. Now that you’re an RWA member, you can volunteer to judge contests, and they almost always need volunteer judges. Pick one that includes a synopsis. It’s a great way to see what works and what doesn’t, and also why the synopsis is so important.