I'm a writer. I'm not yet an author, but I'm working on it. Last month I entered the "Heart to Heart Contest" put on by the San Francisco Area Chapter of Romance Writers of America. The rules stated to enter the fifteen pages where your hero and heroine meet for the first time. Score sheets would be provided after finalists were chosen.
I thought, hey, I'll get feedback either way, right? This is a win-win situation. If I win, I get my book in the hands of an editor or agent. If I lose, I get feedback from people in the biz to make my book better. Awesome.
I got my score sheets back tonight. The first one I opened killed my scene. She hated it. She said she didn't understand my undertones, my heroine was unlikeable, and my motivations were shallow. Ouch. Yeah, that one hurt. But most of what she said stemmed from the fact that she didn't read the first 20 pages of my book. She only read a small section from the middle. Okay, okay, my heroine needs to work on her likability. I'll take the blame...I created her after all.
But the second one I opened lifted my spirits. The judge stated she'd "definitely read this WHEN it hits bookstore shelves". She stated my conflicts were well-rooted, my characters popped off the page, and I painted a clear picture of my backdrop. Yeah, I'm patting myself on the back right about now.
But the problem is, the one horrible score sheet and the one fan-freakin-tastic score sheet made my average a sucky-not-winning one. My scene was not "stellar" and was not good enough to win.
The moral of the story? Take some negative, stir in some positive, and come out with some real average stew. So for the next month I'm going to be cooking up one hell of a feast to make this thing sell.
I wonder if I could get the name of Judge #2? ;)