Thursday, May 20, 2010

Contest Conudrum

I don't enter many contests. Since I'm targeting series romance I can send in proposals directly to an editor. However, I don't have a finished MS at the moment so I thought entering a contest would get something out there circulating while I finish up the current MS, revise the rejected one to send three chapters to Presents, and rework the Presents Contest entry for Desire.  It would also force me to write the synopsis for Executive Demands which I desperately need to do so I keep the book focused on the main story and stop wasting time meandering all over the place.

The Toronto Gold contest has a great reputation for feedback and requested fulls from the judging editors so I decided to prepare an entry for that. And that's when I was reminded once again of one of the problems with entering contests. They ask for a certain amount of pages and of course, my book doesn't have a good hook at that point, or even within a pg or so. They do require a synopsis, which is judged and worth 15 points but it's included in the page count. So, how do I split the 30 pgs? Really short synopsis and get the great hook into the entry? Which happens on pg 28 by the way. Go back and cut unnecessary stuff? Tighten? The problem with this is that I write fairly tightly as is and usually could afford to add emotion and a little setting. Yikes! If I cut, I fear the entry will be even more sparse. Sigh. Dilemma.

One of my chapter mates just posted to our yahoo loop that the Lonestar Writing Contest has an early bird fee of only $20 and has the same editor at the Toronto. And NO SYNOPSIS! But wait, they only want 25 pgs. I'd still have to rework my pgs to get that good hook in there. So, I start going through the pages and realize that for every adverb I eliminate, I need to add three times as many words to add emotion. Frustrating.

So, I turn my interest to the rejected Presents Contest entry that they liked but had problems with. The Fours Seasons Contest extended their deadline to June 1st and a Desire Editor, my target series, is the judge. They're asking for a one page unjudged synopsis. Which I have. Yeah!  And 25 pg entry. Hmm, my hook is on pg 20. I do have to change a few things about the hero based on the Presents feedback which will mean a few more additions about his motivation but it won't add many pgs. Should I send 20 pgs? Or rework.

See, I'm back to the reason I end up not entering contests. I start reworking the story to fit the contest and not to serve the story as a whole.

What to do?


Cat Schield said...

I was on contest hiatus for 6 months, but I can't take it anymore. I'm going to throw 2 Desire targeted entries into Four Seasons and go out to a couple others with my Single Title. Not that I need to spend the money, I just can't stand not having contest finals to hope for.

Toronto looks good. If you want something really short, the Emerald City Opener is only 7 pages and no synopsis.

Don't worry about where the hook goes. I think you send the pages as they are. Just make sure you don't end mid sentence or that the last sentence has a little something that propels the reader to want more.

Good luck!

Anne MacFarlane said...

Cat, I feel like I need to get things out there to keep me focused on completing these MSs.

I looked at the Emerald City contest but the judge isn't one of the editors I'm targeting. And I actually want a contest that asks for more. And I found one! The Heart of the Rockies allows up to 35 pgs including the synopsis. And Shana Smith is the editor. That looks good to me.

Julia Smith said...

'I realize that for every adverb I eliminate, I need to add three times as many words to add emotion. Frustrating.'

LOL, Anne! I can't see that it would hurt anything to tailor your entries to each contest. Good practise for those edits you'll get when you sell.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Julia, I guess that's the best way to look at it.

Kelly Boyce said...

I would send in 20 pgs. I entered the Four Seasons a couple years back and stopped a few pgs short where the best end hook was.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Kelly, I have 21 pgs at the moment for Ch 1 for that MS, so I'm going with it and the 1pg synopsis is ready to go.

Now, my other submission where the book is almost finished, I'm trying to wrestle the synopsis down to 5 pgs.