Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Judging Writing Contests! by DL Larson

Writing contests are beneficial for aspiring writers and seasoned writers. Hearing feedback from another writer is a great way to improve one's writing. If one is willing to listen and learn.

In a writing group I belong to, we had a discussion on the over use of 'now' and 'then'. I believe it started from an article in a writing magazine. Of course I can't find the article - why is that? I can find a dozen magazines, but the one I want is missing . . . Anyway, then and now are considered, usually, as construction words. Once the story is written, most of the 'then' and 'now' should come away without harm to the sentence structure. I noticed many 'then' and 'now' in the entries I read. I shared my newly remembered tidbit to the entrants.

Recently I received a critique on a section of my WIP. A few of my writing group members highlighted the 'then' and 'now' dotted across my work. It was one of those LOL moments. I will take their good advice and kick them off the page.

A few other common mistakes I found judging, I'd like to share:
1. Use past tense to keep the action moving. Ex: 'was running' = ran. 
     Passive verbs can not sustain suspense, intrigue or excitement. 

2. POV hopping. 
    Basic rule: keep one point of view to each scene.

3. Setting.
    Tell/show your reader where your character is at all times.

4. Plot
    Decide the purpose of the story. You don't have to know all the details from the unset, but if you don't have a clear understanding how your character needs to reach his/her goal, it shows on the page. Ask your character the tough questions: 
        - what does it take to succeed?
        - what are the stumbling block?
       - what is their deepest fear?
       - how will they grow in order to reach their goal?

5. Character Development
    Make your character(s) engaging. Bad guy or good guy - doesn't matter. Just make him/her real!
    Repeat this procedure with every character in your story.
    Character driven stories will propel your book in a direction you might not have intended. That's an   
    exciting thing. 

I thoroughly enjoyed judging the entries of the Four Season Contest, sponsored by Windy City RWA. Thank you all for allowing me to read your work. I hope the experience was rewarding for you.

'Til next time ~

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