Today I want to share a post about writing contests—specifically about a new contest—TheFrasier. I’ve been in this business for a while and I’ve entered a bunch of contests. I’ve even won a couple. But the value of contests for me hasn’t come with winning. It’s come with learning to put myself out there, dealing with seemingly unfair critiques by judges and by NOT always finishing first.
Reasons to Enter
- It’s good practice. For anyone with a desire to be published it’s necessary to take a risk. Any time we submit something we have the possibility of rejection.
- It’s the mirror image of the REAL world of publishing. I've heard a lot of comments about various contests and the unfairness of the judges—actually I've made some of those comments. But it’s important to remember the publishing industry is a subjective world. Sometimes we don’t get the job just because they don’t like our writing. We may have followed all the rules and turned in a nearly perfect piece, but it just doesn't resonate with the powers that be. As professionals we have to learn to deal with that and move on.
- It gives us anonymous feedback. I don’t know many people who are comfortable delivering bad news to someone they know. The same is true of critiques. Sometimes the only way we learn the hard stuff is when the person behind the red ink is covered with anonymity.
A New Contest to Consider
There are lots of good contests out there, but today I want to concentrate on a new one you might not have heard of. TheFrasier is the brain child of SusanMay Warren. I’ve mentioned Susie on this blog many times before—especially in conjunction with her amazing website—My Book Therapy.
When she announced a brand new fiction contest in 2009, I knew I had to give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed. I received the most valuable feedback I’ve ever gotten through a contest. The judges didn’t just say they didn’t agree with something—they gave me concrete advice on why it didn’t work and how to fix it. They also took time to let me know what I was doing right.
None of this was by accident—Susie set it up this way. Her judges critique/score sheets ask for specific information and makes certain the judges communicate the helpful, and difficult, critiques we all need to shape us into better writers.
The Bottom Line
- Why did I enter? Because I trusted Susan May Warren. Last year I entered for the same reason AND because I received critiques that have made me a better writer.
- What specifically did I get that affected my writing? I gained insight on how to get
beyond just adding the five senses to a scene. Instead, to make what the character
senses heighten the tension and add to the depth of the scene. I learned how to
take a step back and constantly evaluate if my characters were acting in a
reasonable manner. Finally I learned how to evaluate when narrative is
appropriate to a scene and how to use it without stopping the action cold.
The 2012 Frasier Contest, My Book Therapy’s story-crafting contest for unpublished novelists, is open now through March 31. The winner will be announced at the annual MBT Pizza Party during the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas – and will receive a free MBT retreat (a $500 value!). Final round entries will be judged by award-winning author Susan May Warren, Tyndale House acquisitions editor Stephanie Broene, and Karen Ball, literary agent with the Steve Laube Agency. All guidelines and registration details are available here.
So I encourage you to take a chance and enter a contest or two this year. Let the victories—and the defeats—strengthen you as a writer.
What are your thoughts on contests?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!