Writing is a long, uphill climb. All of those accomplishments along the way can push us forward, perhaps even give us an advantage. Finaling in a contest was just the push I needed.
In the Genesis, the judges used a numerical system to rate contestants in 20 different areas. Then they also provided an additional sheet of overall comments.
Before making changes, first I looked at consistencies among the judges. I found a few! But I also found a few contradictions too.
- Clarify setting in opening paragraphs: For one of my entries, all three judges remarked that I needed to clarify my setting in the first few pages. I'd obviously zoomed ahead with my hook and action and not woven in enough detail to ground my readers.
- Don't overdo short sentences or paragraphs: Two judges remarked that I use a lot of short sentences and paragraphs and that I shouldn't overdo it otherwise it could detract from the moments where a one sentence paragraph would be powerful.
- Add more sensory details: One judge on each entry thought I needed a few more sensory details. Since I tend to write tight and fast-paced, I find myself skipping over smells, sounds, touch, and taste. While I don't want to force them into my writing, I do need to find more natural ways to bring them out.
- Pacing: One judge said she preferred me to slow down the action so I could develop the richness of my characters and setting; another judge thought I should consider cutting just a bit because she thought it "starts to drag a little."
- Character motivation: One judge wasn't clear about MC's motivation and internal conflict, but another judge said that I did a "good job of creating" my characters and that the conflict was "really great."
- Dialogue: One judge said "this is the author's greatest challenge." Another judge said my dialogue is "very good" and that I "write very tight which is excellent."
Of course there are always judges' comments that make you say "HUH?" Those are kinda fun too! I'll only mention one: COMMAS. What's the deal with commas? I must be pretty terrible with them because judges kept marking the places they thought I'd missed them. All I have to say is STORY trumps commas!
Have you ever had any contrasting comments about your writing? Or a critique that made you say "Huh"?
Getting feedback on our writing is always hard, even when it's sprinkled with some positives. What are some ways you've learned to handle getting feedback on your writing without letting it discourage you?