Monday, March 3

Follow the Damn Rules!

No, you're not confused. It is Monday and it's usually Wrangler Liz's day, but we switched because she has something special coming tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

This past week, I entered two contests. One is a three line pitch and the other is a first line contest.
I LOVE first line contests--they REALLY make you see if you have strength in your opening or not.

However, this post is about those who cannot follow the rules!

Three Line Pitch?

You would not believe the # of people who sent in 4, 5...6.  The rules say they'll be disqualified. They should be. They cheated.

The First Line contest is even worse. It says First Three Lines or up to 100 words. People took that 100 word limit to mean up to a dozen sentences.

It irks me. I read the rules, I followed them.

So why does it feel like I'm the poor sport? Because I think cheating is wrong?

What do you think? Does 3 lines mean 3 lines? Or is it okay to add a couple?

Here are mine...what do you think?

            Confluence, Colorado.

            Tiny. Beautiful. Safe.

            Not the kind of place where women vanished into thin air.


  1. good luck, D'Ann! Can't wait to see what Liz has planned for tomorrow. :)

    In general, I think people skim rules and assume they have it right when...they don't. It sucks, it really does. To me 3 lines means exactly that. 3 lines/sentences. Nothing more, nothing less.

  2. Dude! I looove your lines. Awesome. Gave me mini-goosebumps.

    And yes, those "cheaters" get me too. When I took pitches as an acquiring editor...ugh. lol Happens a lot.

  3. I love your 3 lines! Especially the hook! And I am so with you on people not following the rules. But, I think that is an editors/publishers/agents way of weeding out the slush pile. If you can't follow simple directions when submitting then how will you ever be able to follow editing directions? Submissions is not the time to be a rebel, in my opinion. It is the time to show the editor you have read the directions, you respect their wishes, and you can follow their directions :)

  4. It irks me too. Especially after I've worked hard to stick to the rules and then see those who ignore the guidelines.Your 3 lines are great. All I needed was your last line and I was sold.

  5. Agreed!!! One of the things I've noticed is that some people cram two sentences together and call it one. I like the brevity of yours. I think it's intriguing and tight. Good luck.

  6. Great opening lines! I, too, follow the rules. However, I just entered a first page into a workshop which had the following rules: 250 words max, 1 1/4" margins, 1" top and bottom, title 1/3 of the way down the page, 12-point TNR, double spaced. Typical submission format. Yet the format would not show 250 words, only about 160. As we all know, the typical full formatted page is about 250 words. If you take away 1/3 of the page, you've eliminated almost 100 words, which could make a huge difference in the way the critiquer/editor/whomever decides if he/she should ask for the full ms.

  7. Your three lines are wonderful, D'Ann. The hook is perfect. I expect you to be in the winner's circle. I sure want to read more!

    As a teacher I definitely have a dislike for cheating. I've always been a rule follower and disdain those who are rule breakers. I hope they get their just desserts--disqualification. However, if an agent or editor sees the extra words/sentences and is really compelled by the work, they might let it slide. It's hard to see something brilliant and have to disregard it because it violated a rule. We are human. But still, cheating is just that--cheating.

    Great post!

  8. OK, what is a line? Is it however many characters you can type before you have a carriage return? If you do that, it depends on your screen size. Very ambiguous!

    Or do they mean three SENTENCES? If so, why don't they say so? Everything up to a period? I know one site that had a contest for a complete story in one sentence. There were an awful lot of semi-colons in that 400-plus words before I got to the period.

    If they want something particular, they need to define it much more carefully.

  9. Those are great lines, D. I'm like Jim--I have a little trouble with what a line is. Mine are longer than yours. Mine on the computer page is longer than in the "box" in the entry. Or shorter. And there's the whole rules thing--that ALWAYS bothers me. :) I remember a teacher in school who, when she assigned a 500-word theme, MEANT 500 words. You would lose
    letter grade for having 488, no matter how good they were.

    I think I'm a fan of "around" three lines, or sentences, or 500 words, come to that. I also write run-on sentences, but that's another post, isn't it?

    Good post, and thanks for trading me days!

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  11. I don't typically worry about whether other people follow the rules. I admit that I don't always follow them myself -- for example, I have a lead foot on the roads and don't use my turn signal as often as I should. The wonderful thing about life and everything in it is our ability to choose. We can choose to go against the rules, but with that glorious choice comes the sometimes painful part of having to accept the consequences that follow. The consequence of my need for speed might be an expensive ticket I have to pay. The consequence of those people sending in more than three lines is disqualification from the contest. But they've hurt themselves and no one else. They might have even helped the rule followers by reducing the competition pool! I just know that, for me, it's easier to stay sane if I focus on my own chaotic life and let others do the same. LOVED your lines, btw! They're like little firecrackers.

    Sophia Ryan / She Likes It Irish

  12. D'Ann,

    Cheaters should be disqualified. Usually that's the way it works--or it should. But like you said, the contest sharpen your writing abilities by offering a challenge. So there is some benefit.

  13. I might break rules when I am writing but when you are in a contest - the rules must be followed.

  14. Loved your lines. I felt the same way during a recent contest when I figured out how the other person kept jumping ahead of me... it is frustrating. I wish you luck with your book! I love all yours!

  15. Thanks, all! Much appreciated!

  16. Great post!
    I don't necessarily think that everyone breaking the rules are cheaters. I think many are just negligent. They fail to read the instructions and fail to double-check if they're meeting set criteria.
    I do agree they should be disqualified.
    A while back I had submissions from various writers for a post. I was amazed at how many of these authors (published authors-- used to entering contests and working with contracts for different publishers) failed to READ.
    I'm with the others. I love your three lines.
    Trisha Faye