I recently entered my unpublished book, Premedicated Murder, into a contest. I didn’t make to the final round, but that’s okay. For me the point of entering was because the description of the contest was to receive feedback.
For Unpublished work, the contest asked for the first 5,000 words so the judges only got a peek at my story. This could be both good and bad as they only got a taste of the story, but didn’t get to the deeper parts, the humor or the romance. They also didn’t get to the whodunit part.
I received back 4 scorecards 8 days ago. My scores were decent and I think the feedback I received overall was good, positive and something I can work on improving. However, some of the feedback has me perplexed.
My initial reaction to reading it was excitement because I thought it gave me something to improve and maybe that was what was causing Agents to “not fall in love with my story” (their words from the rejection letters); however, when I went back to my manuscript to make the corrects, I couldn’t find what the judges (2 of the 4) had been talking about.
The two judges noted that some of my dialogue was too formal and that I didn’t use contractions like “we’re” or “isn’t” so I went to fix this because clearly I use them not only to type but in my own speech. I couldn’t find one place that one wasn’t used. I also tried to correct the too formal comment but couldn’t figure out where that came from either. Well darn…
So then I tried to fix were they noted that my characters had no emotion or personality in the beginning. Great, I can fix that. I read through the section I provided and I made minor corrections, but again, I’m not seeing where they don’t have personality or don’t have emotions. The comment was made about the two assistants (secondary characters). When Joanna first meets Jeremy (the ghost), her assistants are startled and confused, but neither are scared because they are geeks for this paranormal stuff and are mostly intrigued by her seeing a dead person.
Then for most of it, one character is quieter while the other is more talkative. He has clear “catch phrases” too. Well double darn… How do I fix this when I can’t find places to fix? But I did try to add more description, more emotion. I really want this to be good and if this is what others noted, I am taking it seriously and to heart.
The other judges mostly noted the lack of romance, but as a minor note. However, Joanna doesn’t meet the love interest until later in the story and even then I carry the romance element out into the next book. It isn’t a main theme in Premedicated Murder, just a teaser so I’m not surprised by this feedback.
The other judges did seem to enjoy my story and I got the sense they might have liked it had they been able to read the entire thing. All wished me good luck and I do feel like it was worth my time to enter. I am still processing the comments and am taking it seriously, even with my darns above. I definitely want to make this happen and get this book published. It is a story worth telling and I want people to be able to enjoy my tales.
So I keep going, keep reaching and keep writing. Thanks for the support.