Thursday, October 18, 2007

Contest Conflicts

I entered two contests back in the summer. The results came back about a week apart from each other. The first one was viewed by four different judges - 3 of the 4 tore my story to pieces. The other contest entry was only viewed by one judge who really liked it. Of course, I had a few grammar problems and small things to change, but over all, she really like the story itself.

Here are my questions: What do you do when you have several different people telling you several different things about your story? What do you change? What do you leave in? Do you just go by gut feelings?



Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry your story was ripped to pieces, I'm sure it was great and you probably just got the wrong judges (in the sense that they just didn't enjoy what you'd written, not in the sense that they are bad people).

Something I've learned from putting my stories up on critique sites is that you can get 12 different opinions on one thing, and that makes it all the more confusing. I mean, who do you listen to, when one person absolutely loves what you've written and another says it's horrible? I had to stop going because I began the painful trip down the road of Self Doubt and it killed my creativity. Sometimes one person would point out something that rang true to me, so I went with it. If several people mention something, of course I look at what to change.

Otherwise, it's my story and I leave it alone.

JoAnn said...

Barb, I've entered a lot of contests and sometimes I still can't figure what what the judges are saying! One thing to look out for is if you see the same comment over and over. For example, in the ms I'm entering now, I originally described the hero's hair as "long and stringy". I liked the description because I was in her deep POV and she really disliked him. Of course, she changes her tune later. But when several judges in different contests commented on how unattractive that was, I decided to change it.

The other thing to remember is this is YOUR story. And if you feel strongly about something, don't change it just because a judge made a comment about it. There are about a heptazillion published books out there that tanked in every contest they were entered in. And there are a heptazillion UNPUBLISHED books out there that have finaled in ever contest they entered.

:-) FWIW!

Christy Reece said...

I've entered several contests and somehow always ended up with one judge who gave me a perfect score and one judge who despised the story, my characters and the way I wrote.

My only advice, and you've heard it a hundred times...just be true to your story. If it's something you feel strongly about, keep it the way you want. If it's something you don't really care about or it's mentioned numerous times as a problem, then take a look at changing it.

Still, as said above, it's your story. Tell it the way your heart and characters want you to tell it.

Deborah Matthews said...

I always get one judge who hates my ms. and one who loves it. All I can say is ditto to all of the above.

Carla Swafford said...

Look at the comments from the judges, especially when you send the same entry to more than one contest, if you see the same repeated criticism (e.g., grammar, POV shifts, character development), then you know what needs work. All the other comments are to be thrown away unless you agree for whatever reason. Usually these are personal opinions steming from their own faults.