JUDGE AND YOUíLL BECOME A BETTER WRITER
First appeared as a newsletter article for the NTRWA Heart to Heart and on BlameItOnTheMuse.com.
Over the past ten years Iíve judged a lot of contests. A lot. And I firmly believe that judging as a pre-published author helped me gain confidence and a deeper understanding in my own writing. Helping me to constantly final in contests over six years and eventually sell.
Judging isnít a chore or an obligation for entering a contest. Judging is an opportunity to learn. Learn about individual aspects of writing that editors are looking at. It is a mis-conception that editors are willing to work with bad writing if the story is good. Maybe true in years past. But with the publishing market shrinking and the world of non-published submissions growing, well...do you think the editor wants to use valuable time to correct sentence structure or easily corrected mistakes?
Back to contests... When reading an anonymous chapter, we tend to be looking for a reason to LOVE LOVE LOVE the work. OR looking for the mistakes. Guess what? When you judge several contests, you begin to see those mistakes (and what works) when you read your own chapter. You might think that youíd get the same benefit from reading published works. I donít think this is true at the same level of learning. Thereís nothing to critique in a printed chapter. You either identify with the characters or you donít. You want to read the story or not.
Thereís always the opportunity to analyze a finished book, I acknowledge that. But something else happens when you have to explain why YOU believe that something in a chapter is wrong. When you must put words on the page and convince someone else their writing is incorrect, you learn and then you recognize those same mistakes in your writing. Teaching, mentoring, judging... all good ways to advance your own skills.
As a contest chair, Iím constantly working to keep my score sheets up-to-date. One of our 2011 editors reviewed our score sheet and said, it ďgives room for valuing originality and fresh voice.Ē
Now hereís the blatant promotion... Yes, Iím a contest coordinator and yes Iíd love for you to become a better writer and perhaps help new authors at the same time. Judging in the Great Expectations Contest will help the North Texas chapter, but YOU will be able to learn from every page you read. Excellent judge training which is well-thought out, helps you analyze not only what youíre reading, but also what others may be seeing in YOUR writing.
Please consider signing up to judge (just send an email: GECoordinator@ntrwa.org). If not in my chapterís contest, then try your own. Judges are always needed. And this year, those judging Great Expectations will be entered in a drawing for several autographed books from North Texas RWA chapter members. Just a small way to thank judges for giving back to the writing community.
~~Angi Morgan writes for Harlequin Intrigue. Hill Country Holdup, her first release was shelves September 2010, followed by .38 Caliber Cover-Up in February 2011. HCH won the 2010 Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense & Adventure RWA Golden Heart. See Jane Run, also won several other contests, two being the Daphne du Maurier and Great Expectations Contest in 2009. Visit her website: AngiMorgan.com or become a friend on Facebook.
Copyright 2004-2011 Angi Platt Morgan -- all rights reserved, please obtain written permission before use.
ĎTil next time,