I’m getting close to the point where I’m ready to submit a novel I’ve been working on, on and off for the last fifteen years. That’s a long time. As such, the work is the most fully conceptualized out of all my other WIPs. It’s good, I know that much, but it still has flaws. How do I know? One, because I started it in my early teens. And two, because as soon as I think I can do no more with it and put it aside to work on something else, I come back to it with fresh eyes and new ideas to make it better. The problem with unpublished works is you can keep tinkering with them for years.
But this time, I’m ready. And I have a plan for publication. But for starters, I will be submitting the first twenty pages into a contest hosted by a regional writer’s organization. Every entry is critiqued, and I want to use that as a way to see where I’m at. Like I said, I think it’s good, but it’s hard to be objective when I’ve been living and breathing this story for so long. I also haven’t had a lot of people read the work. For a number of reasons. Primarily because of lot of my friends would not be the best choice for feedback on a historical romance, and a medieval one at that. Plus, they don’t really know I write… Awkward.
So anyway. Contests. Fortuitously enough, I recently stumbled upon Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog and learned Authoress would be hosting a 25 word challenge where people submit their first 25 words (or up to 25 words that ended in a complete sentence) to see if people would be hooked enough to keep reading. I submitted the first 17 words of my WIP along with 175 others and got some comments. And all it took was an email and poof! Instant feedback. Part of me was just so excited to have feedback from other like-minded individuals. Some of the comments surprised me, but they signaled things I need to keep in mind as I move forward with my WIP.
Granted, the first 25 words will not make or break an entry, but I found the experience invaluable in terms of getting other eyes on my work. Blogger Sharon Mayhew, inspired by Miss Snark's First Victim, is hosting another contest, this time the first four sentences. And I have happily submitted my work to this contest as well. These mini challenges have been a great way to jumpstart my final stretch edits as I prepare my manuscript for the regional contest. Hopefully the momentum will keep me going!