Contests, workshops and pushing for sameness in an altered world

Seriously, this week.

When logging on to write a blog post, I realized I’d intended to go over my impressions of the 1st 5 pages workshop in which I participated. The workshop took place over 3 weeks, and was an intensive look at the first 1250 words of my YA fantasy manuscript. All the participants commented on each other, and each participant got an additional 3 comments from experts in the field. An agent will be commenting as well, and choosing one entry as the lucky recipient of a partial request (and hopefully a critique).

I really felt the value of this workshop, and if you’re working on a YA novel, you should definitely go for it. Getting in-depth feedback, week after week, meant that we could build on our shifting understanding of our fellow authors and their work to give (and receive) increasingly detailed feedback. This didn’t just help me improve my first five pages. I was able to make my entire first chapter tighter, and I hope that I’ll continue to keep my fellow workshoppers’ tips in mind as I go through my manuscript yet again. Thank you, my beautiful first five pages people!

My motto for this week seemed to be seize the week, because on Thursday I decided to go in for two more contests: the red light/green light competition and SFFpit on twitter.

Red light/green light is a stop-and-go competition, in which the first line of 50 finished, ready-to-query manuscripts will be put up on the web site and judged by an agent. Once she’s found 25 that she likes, she’ll look at the first 2 sentences of those 25 manuscripts. That gets boiled down to 10 entrants and their first page, which gets boiled down to 5 entrants and their pitch. I actually have no idea whether I’m in this contest; the first 50 to send in their forms get put on the web site and I won’t know if I made the cut till Thursday. But I’ll be following the contest no matter what, because I think it will provide incredible insight as to how these first isolated sentences grab readers who have never seen our work before.

SFFpit is a twitter event for science fiction and fantasy authors to pitch their finished manuscripts in 140 characters. I think I’ll be doing a separate blog post on SFFpit.

SFFpit was bowled over for me by the political news. I’ve ranted about that on my personal facebook, so I’m not going to go over that here. But when you take an emotional blow, for whatever reason, setting all that aside and working on something that seems mundane and pointless in comparison – well, it’s not easy. And seeing as I’m waiting on a few last critique partners, I didn’t want to throw myself into editing without their feedback. I needed to make something new.

I wasn’t very good at it.

However, here’s to the future, for all of us. I had a good week until Friday morning, I learned a lot, I got excited, and I connected with some fantastic writers. I’m not going to write that off.

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