Tuesday, June 6

Contests . . . Continued . . .

Liz had a lot of great stuff to say about writing contests yesterday and I thought I'd chime in. I really don't disagree with anything she said, but I will add that judging contests from the viewpoint of a copy editor is tough.

Here's the thing--I judge our RWA chapter's contest every year. Sometimes, it's arduous and other times, I find a lot of satisfaction in the entries because man, some of the writers who enter can really, really write! However, I have to say, in all honesty, that that's rare. A good percentage of the stories I've judged are . . . well, just not good. Bear in mind though that I come from a totally different place than other judges. The editor in me sometimes can't see past the dreadful mechanics to get to the story.

I don't like to admit that about me, but I think it's an occupational hazard and more often than not, I end up feeling like I'm teaching a writer basic skills rather than giving them valuable feedback about their story. Most times, I end up reading through the entries twice--once to get over misplaced commas, misspelled words, awkward sentence structure, etc., and then a second time for the story. Yeah, it makes for a more arduous judging process for me, but I don't know any other way to do it.

As far as entering, I've entered contests and I've even finaled in a couple, which was a real boost to the old ego. But sometimes, the judges were harsh or offered very little valuable feedback. One judge's only comment was, "Your heroine is so old! Nothing sexy or romantic about her." Thanks, that was useful. I haven't entered a contest in several years and I'm not sure I'll be doing it anytime soon. To be frank, rejections from publishers are depressing enough. And the subjectivity factor in contest feedback is more than I can handle at the moment.

All of that said, however, I will tell you that our chapter's contest is one of the better ones. If you're an unpublished author and you're thinking of entering a romance writing contest in 2017, give the Indiana Golden Opportunity contest a try: https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=2211. Don't let me discourage you from entering--IGO's feedback is honest, but kind, and we all really try to be helpful. So, what do you think about contests and I'd be really curious to know if you all think a copy editor should even be judging contests. Discuss . . .

7 comments:

  1. Even from my anti-contest stance right now, I will say that entering IGO is a big bang for your buck. There is tons of feedback! Good post, Nan.

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    1. Thank, Liz--yup, IGO is one of the best ones out there.

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  2. Nan, I think a copy editor as a judge is a great idea! Comma placement, misspelled words, etc. are vitally important for an author to understand and to get correct... enough of these little errors will pull a reader out of a story so that they can't enjoy great characters or plot.

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    1. I hope you're right, Ava--I do get lost in the editing when I judge, which is a no-no, but eventually I come back around. Thus the two passes... ;-)

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  3. I agree with Ava. As a copy editor you're providing a valuable service to the writers who enter your contest. Those are basic things they need to understand.

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    1. Thanks, Jana--I hadn't thought of it in exactly that way. As long as I don't get carried away and only give them examples of their mechanical errors, I guess I'm okay in dual roles. -)

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  4. Winning is so much better than losing...Bull Durham.

    Seriously, it can be a huge ego boost. I simply placed in the WD screenwriting category and that's been enough to sustain me for a decade or more. LOL And I don't even write screenplays.

    Seriously, I think you're a saint to give that thorough of feedback without going crazy.

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