Earlier this year I started entering various competitions for unpublished novels through the Romance Writers of America. Many of the chapters have competitions where you can enter part of your novel (usually your first chapter). The first round is judged by members of the RWA and then if you are a finalist your novel is then judged by industry professionals, which is of course a great opportunity.
I started entering the competitions after volunteering to judge one. As I was writing feedback for the entries I was judging, I realised that it would be really helpful to me to have feedback on my first chapter too. I have a great critique partner but I think it’s useful to get as much feedback as possible. I’ve entered quite a few of the competitions now. The quality of the feedback has been variable but overall it has been totally worth the entry fees. Each competition I entered gave me something to work with and each time I would go through the first chapter and make edits based on the feedback I got. Like with any feedback, some I took on board and others I considered but ultimately didn’t use. One thing I found was quite consistent was that judges didn’t understand how things are in the UK (which is understandable as it is the Romance Writers of America). For example I got a lot of comments regarding why my characters didn’t have guns. Obviously that’s something that I wouldn’t change in my novels because it’s set in the UK. I’m not saying there will never be a gun in my books but it doesn’t fit with the setting that all characters would have guns or that they would be issued as standard (especially in a world where guns do not kill everything, but that doesn’t come in until chapter three or four).
I never expected that my novel would actually win one of the competitions. Having judged some myself, I know that the standards are high and I was really just in it for the feedback so that I could improve my novel. Obviously it must have worked because I found out yesterday that Deadly Dreams won first place in the Paranormal Romance Cateogry in the North East Ohio Romance Writers of America’s Cleveland Rocks Romance Competition.
Thank you NEORWA. Thank you to all the judges (first round and final round) for rating it highly. And thank you especially to all the judges who have given me such useful feedback on Deadly Dreams in all of the competitions that I have entered.