Last week I received a round of scores from a RWA chapter contest I’d entered. My three scores were all over the place. One was a *gasp* 67, another an 85 and the last a 98.
I read over the comments and here’s what I immediately saw:
The 67 hated the premise, thereby dooming the submission to failure.
The 98 loved it and had little it would improve upon/edit suggestions. (Of course I tend to agree with this judge the most )
The 85 caught several simple (head smacking ‘duh’ moments on my part) errors that I should have found before I sent it in.
As frustrating as contest results can be, and they SO can be, you can glean something of value from them. Do you need to accept every comment and criticism as something that needs to be addressed or incorporated? NO. I’m a firm believer in staying true to your story. However, the goal here is to sharpen/hone/tighten your baby into the very best it can be.
This is why writing contests are so useful. In many ways these contests and their judges are a reflection of the reading public. Some readers/reviewers will think your book ROCKS. Other’s will HATE it. And some won’t be too impassioned one way or the other.
One things is for sure: contests give you the opportunity to develop thicker skin. And having a thick skin is Required along every step of the writing process.