What I like about a novel or short story might not appeal to you.
Say I read a book and love it so I recommend it to you.
It changed my life, I tell you. You are convinced it will change your life too.
But you are sorely disappointed. You think, What was she thinking? This book is rubbish!
My point is, like with everything – food, drink, movies, comedy, music, exercise, dogs and cats, etc – what I like might not be your cup of tea.
I have had the experience of people either loving my writing or finding fault with it – they don’t like my heroine (she’s too selfish), my hero is too soft (no alpha males in my stories!), my style irks them, they don’t get my humour.
In 2017, I entered the Romance Writers of Australia short story contest, Little Gems.
Every year the RWA names a gem that must be included in the story.
Last year’s gem was Onyx.
I loved my story and hoped it would get into the top 14 stories that make up the annual Little Gems anthology.
But it flunked. I can’t remember the scores I received from the three judges who read it – I received one perfect score of 60 and maybe another of 58. But the third judge’s score dragged my story out of contention for the top 14.
She thought it wasn’t romantic enough and that it focussed more on the relationship between the mother (heroine) and daughter characters rather than that of the mother and the hero love interest.
I was shattered. I knew my story was good. Quite a few of my writer friends read it and helped me edit it. I had it polished to perfection. But obviously not enough.
That’s how it is. If you enter these contests, you have to take the good feedback with the bad and be aware it is a totally subjective assessment of your story by a judge chosen from a pool of generous volunteers.
This year I tweaked the story to fit the gem Jade. Other than that, I made no changes.
There were 67 entries. Only 14 get make it, all reliant on the scores allocated by their three judges.
This year I had better luck with my judges. I received a “perfect, there is nothing I would change in this story”, then a 59 and a 58.
It wasn’t enough to get me into a top 3 but my story made 5th place and the anthology.
I was pretty happy with the outcome.
I wasn’t so lucky with another story I entered, albeit at the last minute. Written in a rush, it was quickly subbed by a good friend on the last day/night for entries to be submitted.
It received a 58, 57 and a 44. As usual, a huge thumbs down from one judge.
I have to cop that. Obviously, the judge who gave me the low score doesn’t enjoy my style of writing.
There’s always next year!