Tuesday, 12 November 2013


The result of entering any competition can only be a ‘good’ result.
What you gain from deciding to enter is a fresh look at your work. You will be delighted at some of the prose you’ve created, possibly stunned at the errors you find in the piece when you thought it was ‘perfect’. But most of all you’ve probably tightened up the manuscript and possibly fleshed out the bones before submitting it.

Just like a skeleton every story’s bones are different, although they follow a basic structure. Your bones are your individual voice and style. Don’t let them hang around. Give them a shake, wrap some flesh around them, change the heads about, and alter the path they are walking.
I refuse to pay huge amounts to enter a competition but this is my individual choice.  You may be happy to invest in your work with this expense. Make sure you are going to get feedback. Pick one that appeals or could apply to a piece you have already written; and tweak your effort to suit the contest. Have fun recreating your story to fit the parameters given.  This is such good writing practice.

For the small cost of entering a contest run by Romance Writers of NZ you can have three people read your work and receive back three different opinions. This is great value for money.  Often you will find the judges in agreement on a particular part of your submission which must tell you it needs revision. It doesn’t matter if two of the judges love it and one hates it.  This is what happens when your creation goes out into the wide world and is read by others. Everyone’s taste in reading matter is subjective. If you belong to a book club you will know this. Rarely would the whole group enjoy the same book.

Be positive about comments received. We are like artists who paint pictures. Writers paint pictures with words. Just as the artist always wants to get out his paints and alter his finished work,  we writers are never satisfied either; a word to add just here; a sentence to delete up there.
At first I couldn’t bear to lose the work I had to delete and I created a file for ‘discarded pieces’ in case I ever needed them again.  I realized the other day that I’ve stopped saving them. I’ve never reused any of the deleted paragraphs, sentences or delicious phrases.  I now just backspace and they disappear into the ether.  I’ve learned that I can create more words just as great, and I don’t need the file as a backstop.  However, it’s taken two years for me to get to this point.

 Make the changes suggested in critiques, rewrite and rewrite, then send it off to find a new home. As I said at the beginning: it’s irrelevant who wins. You are a winner by the very act of entering. Do it today!

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