So, it's four months later and how are your goals coming along? I hope you have had some success with your goals. (remember we are not calling them New Year's resolutions – they are promises you made to yourself) My first goal was to attend one writer's meeting per month. So far, so good. I have not only made it to one a month, I even went twice one month. I even shared something during one of my meetings – I read a query letter I wrote. It needed work, but then I knew it would so I went with my eyes wide open and with full expectations of having to put some extra work into it.
My second goal was to submit to one contest per month. Also done. I have submitted to at least one contest per month. Most of the time, it was two contests and each contest I sent more than one novel in for judging. If you know me it's painful for me to let my babies out of my hands but I did it. To say I was nervous was putting it mildly. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Not only did I final for three of my manuscripts, but the other criticism sent my way was all wonderfully constructive. After reading what they wrote, I understood where they were coming from and was able to make changes that made my manuscripts even better. So they are off to the final judges. In the meantime, I am on track for May. I submitted to a contest for May – I sent 4 manuscripts. I figure if I send several, they have to like one of them.
Our next step is what to do next? How do we evaluate what we learned from the contests? Do we feel dejected by the comments? Do we feel buoyed by the positive reinforcements? Do we take it with a grain of salt? Do we disagree and feel they do not know what they are talking about? I look at it this way – each person who reads my manuscript is a potential reader. They may be buying my book in the future when it's on the shelf. I would rather they want to read more instead of thinking I do shoddy work. I want them hooked on that first page. At the end of the chapter, I want them dying to read more and unable to put it down. When they get to the end of my book I want them running to the bookstore or going online to buy the next book. When I read their comments, I listen. I am still true to my voice and my characters, but when it comes to mechanics and tension, I listen. When they tell me the characters need to be fleshed out more fully, I listen.
One of the things I did after reading comments was go to a site called editminion.com. One of the contest judges recommended it so I could check for passive voice. You plug in a section of your text and they will highlight different parts. For kicks I did just that. I copy and pasted a section of my text and saw the passive voice. Now that I see how many times I say "had" in my text I can become more conscious of it.
My new goal is to tighten my text. To make it more active and get rid of the passive voice wherever possible. This I can do each day when I finish writing and I edit my work.
- To write or edit every day
- To submit to one contest per month
- To attend one meeting per month
- To get of passive voice in my manuscripts