December 13, 2011

can we guess your character's age? contest update

My entry into Brenda Drake's "Can We Guess Your Character's Age?" contest made it to the semi-finals. You can see that announcement here. Congrats to the 19 other writers who made it, too.

And now, I can officially reveal my character's age...

Elliot Lynch is 28.

Several of you guessed it perfectly, so congratulations to you.

What does making it to the semi-finals mean? It means that my entry — and 20 others — will be reviewed by book editor and literary agent assistant Gabriela Lessa. The top three winners will receive discounted editing service from her, which would certainly help an aspiring writer polish his or her manuscript.

Whether or not I win I am pleased to see my submission made it to the semi-finals. It means that at least a few people were able to guess my character's age. While I may have a lot of work to go before this book is query ready, I know I am at least on the right track.

I would like to thank everyone who left feedback on my original critique post. I value the feedback I received and already put some of it to work. It proved to be a great learning experience for me, and I love having those.

Here are a few lessons I took away from the feedback:
•  I need to put more action in my opening pages. It might mean completely re-working the beginning, and potentially cutting most of what I wrote for chapter one, but it will make my book better.
•  Less is more when it comes to providing background early in a story. Instead, wait to reveal more about a character's history until a couple of chapters in — it will add more suspense.
•  Watch my use of "to be" verbs. I am guilty of using these a lot and will strive to add more action verbs to my writing.
•  Don't take it personally when someone offers you a critique. It does not mean you suck. It does not mean you are wrong. But, when a person gives you a suggestion you should listen. It may make your work better.
•  Be positive and constructive when giving criticism. Most people who participated in this contest on my blog and others did this, and it makes a big difference. A writer usually becomes attached to his or her work, and if someone attacks it the person may get defensive or hurt. Neither of those ends well.

I also appreciate the compliments and encouragement some posters left. It definitely made my day to read them. Thanks again for your help and for making this contest beneficial win or lose.

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