How has first-week-of-the-contest been for everyone? Today is the final day of judging and here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. The voting ends to day at midnight. So TODAY is the day to cast your votes if you haven’t already. We are hoping this can be fairly anonymous but we also know that this is pretty much impossible. So approach the contest in whatever way you feel is appropriate. The final twelve will be picked by both popular and judges picks. Remember, read each entry with an editor’s eye.
2. We cannot stress this enough: If you get eliminated, or if you arrived late in the game, do not despair. If you do every challenge on your own, EVERY SINGLE ONE, and then send them in to us in the final week (we’ll also have opportunities to post some during the competition–we’ll let you know), you can still win big! A five page critique from an agent. So please don’t be sad if you don’t make it to the next round. Keep going. If there’s anything certain about writing, it’s that you have to keep going, keep working at it, no matter what. Rumor has it that A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 27 times.
3. When you go to conferences and hear agents or editors speak, undoubtedly you’ll hear the question: What are you looking for? They love these kind of questions. Sometimes the editor will give a list of genre specific things they want on their list. Maybe a boy book. Maybe a dystopian or two. But what you ALWAYS hear is this: We want a fresh voice. Someone in the audience will say, ” What does that mean?” and the editor will say, “I don’t know how to describe it. I just know it when I see it.” ARGH. So we are hoping that this contest, other than having awesome prizes, will give you some practice in seeing what it’s like to be on both sides of the equation. You have to write and you also get to judge. This week we had over 60 first few paragraphs. As many of you found out, it was hard to narrow down your choices to just six. Imagine if you were looking at a stack of thousands? You know that when editors look through the slush pile, it usually only takes a paragraph or two for them to decide whether to read on. So what is a fresh voice? Which entries grabbed you immediately? How do your first few paragraphs read? Have you found your voice?
Keep in mind reading and judging is subjective. That’s why we are encouraged to keep going. Not every book is for every reader. But good, solid writing trumps everything else. Please feel free to ask questions throughout the contest. Take your writing challenges to your writing group and work on them. Have your toughest critics read them and see what their reactions are. Use the entries posted to discuss first lines, setting up character and plot, voice, etc. There are so many things to keep in mind with writing from the sentence level to the big picture level. We are hoping this contest and this blog will help you work on your craft and push you as a writer.
So . . . I got long-winded . . . in closing (hahahahaha), voting closes at midnight mountain time. We will announce the finalists along with the next challenge first thing Monday morning. If you get eliminated, don’t despair. You can still win the “at home” prize if you do all the challenges and of course, throughout the contest we get to learn together. Thank you all who entered for being brave. Writing makes us vulnerable–letting hundreds of people read and judge your writing is no small thing. Buy yourself a milk shake for taking the leap.
okay, this is really the end. Until midnight . . .