Not an exam! I didn’t write this book for someone to pull it apart, did I?
Those words filled my mind the first time I entered a contest. I felt like I was about to sit in the dentist’s chair but I’d just finished the first draft of my manuscript and was at a loss at what to do next. So, I entered it into a writing contest and quickly discovered the world of words.
Needless to say, I didn’t win first prize but I learned the value of a critique. Three writers judged my work. They offered advice and remarked on areas of weakness and strength. Some were easier to read than others but all served their purpose, to make me a better writer.
The key to any critique or contest is your spirit. How will you accept their words? Will you perceive them as an attack or pearls of wisdom? Will they crush your hopes or strengthen your determination? It’s up to you.
After examining the suggestions in their entirety, I edited the manuscript. An addition here, slice there, and change of POVs all over the place! Then a talented author critiqued the new draft and even offered some line edits out of the goodness of her heart! (Thank you, April, you’re an angel in disguise.) Some gentle guidance and smooth direction led this fledgling writer into a third draft.
And a critique group. If you’re a writer, you need one. And an edit group and a writing group… It’s called accountability. If someone doesn’t hold you accountable, who will? You? Try it for awhile and see what happens. Didn’t work too well for me.
I will admit to not tackling both edit and writing groups at the same time. I just don’t have enough time available for that. Right now, my goal is to get my first manuscript edited and remain faithful to my critique group. Those priorities will switch soon then I’ll continue writing my current WIP (work-in-progress).
My third draft turned into a fourth, then a fifth and so on. The book has morphed but the plot is the same. Some characters are slightly different but overall, they’re still who they started out to be. I’ve grown as a writer and so has my novel. It’s an amazing transformation.
So, remember, if you’ve finished or almost finished that first draft and you don’t know where to go from here. Enter a contest or have someone check it out for you. Open your mind to what they may have to say.
After all, even a published writer was unpublished once.
Psalm 68:11 “The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it”