Back in July I did a post about why it pays to enter writing contests and competitions and how you can use them to hone your craft.
I’m very excited to report that last weekend I won the Published Author Section of the CYA competition for my YA manuscript, Cutting The Ice.
It’s an amazing feeling to have your writing recognised and appreciated by colleagues and industry professionals. But the main reason I entered this particular competition was because the judges provide comprehensive feedback for every single entry.
My Cutting the Ice manuscript was finished, but I had an instinctive feeling that someone wasn’t quite right with it…that my main character had a bit too much angst and aggression to inspire empathy in the reader.
And I was having trouble identifying exactly what it was that made my character unsympathetic. So I was thrilled to discover that winning the competition meant receiving a crit from the final judge, Paul Collins of Ford Street Publishing.
From his detailed feedback it was clear that he had the same concerns about the manuscript – and the best part was that he offered suggestions on how to fix it.
The more experienced I become as a writer, the more I realise how hard it is to be objective about your own work – to stand back from it and pick out the problems and even if you identify the issues, it can be hard to come up with solutions.
I think it’s human nature. We fall in love with our characters and the beauty of how we have strung our words together on the page. It’s difficult to step back and say to ourselves, ‘yes these words are beautiful, but they are not relevant to the story so DELETE THEM’.
That’s why competitions with feedback can be so useful. So if you have an opportunity to get someone to crit your work…especially an experienced author, publisher or editor…grasp it with both hands.
Thanks to my CYA win, Cutting The Ice is moving forward again. Whether this award ultimately leads to publication remains to be seen, but from the judge’s feedback I received I have learned some important things about structure and character development, and identifying issues with my own work.
I’ll keep you posted on developments.