Once Upon a Fat Girl

Friday, June 02, 2006


I entered the Virginia Romance Writers 2006 Fool for Love First Chapter Contest about six weeks ago.

The way romance writing contests work is, the author sends in copies of whatever material is requested, and two critiquers read and judge it.

This was my first contest. Unfortunately I didn't make the final round.

I'm okay with that. What I'm really happy about is that one of the judges really, really liked my work. She gave me 149 points out of 150!

Unfortunately, the second judge didn't like my work. She gave me 127 points out of 150. The first scene in my first chapter describes an attempted rape, and she thought it was too graphic. She put a lot of notes and underlining in the first five pages, and then nothing at all, not one note, in the last fifteen. I'm thinking she didn't even bother to read the whole thing.

That's a 22-point difference. If it had been 35 points, I would have gotten a third judging--by an editor. Boo.

The judge that liked my first chapter gave me a lot of really useful feedback. Most importantly, she pointed out that I don't tell soon enough where the story is set. Since it's set in Las Vegas in August...I have some early references to heat. Specifically hot air blowing in a broken window. She wondered if the house was on fire! That's something I can fix easily. I had mentioned Las Vegas in the first few pages, but it must have been cut during editing.

She especially thought that I did a good job with conflict, making it natural and not contrived. Yeah me! I worked so, so, so hard on that.

I was worried about the rape scene being too graphic. It's either going to draw the reader in, like it did for the first judge. Or it's going to turn the reader off completely, like it did for the second judge. I don't think watering it down is the answer. I'm just going to have to find an agent who isn't squeamish.

There are all kinds of romance books. Mine is a romantic suspense...maybe 30/70. There are sweet romances that have nothing graphic in them at all. Maybe that's what the second judge likes.

So I'm not a contest winner. Or finalist. But one person not related to me thought my opening was good. That feels pretty damn good.


Work on my novel...especially working in the suggestions from the judges

Read a chapter of my "how to write a novel query" book

Keeping working in backroom

Go to Savers with my girls after we pick Adrienne up from school


Blogger Amazon Alanna said...

Writing is so subjective...it's really up to the tastes and opinion of the reader. No worries, Shaunta.

I hope you don't mind, but I added a link to your blog from my tri blog. :)

4:52 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I write too and I recently joined a writer's group a few months back. It is just a local thing and we get together and pick topics and critique our writing. It has been a lot of funa nd really helpful to see my story from someone else's eyes.

Congratulations to you!

6:48 PM  
Blogger Living to Feel Good said...

Are you using that for your book you are writing right now? My favorites are the ones that involve mystery and romance. Did you say you've already written one?

I wish I could write. I know I can't. My husband writes for magazines, and I am so embarrassed on how I write that I won't let him see my blog. I think it's awesome that you and others on here have that skill!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I, for one, think you are brave beyond belief to write. To write and submit! Amazing :) I just dream about it, lol.

8:33 PM  

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