Mysteries, thrillls and chills . . . one story at a time.
I recently judged contest entries for Duel of the Delta, sponsored by my local chapter, River City Romance Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, sponsored by Kiss of Death, the mystery/suspense chapter of Romance Writers of American. I submitted entries into both contests, but of course, I did not judge the categories I entered.
I was honored when I was asked to judge but I have to admit to having some misgivings. First, I am an unpublished writer, so who wants to hear my opinions about what makes their writing good or not. Second, I am an unpublished writer, who cares what I think, period!
Fortunately, the coordinators for both contests were very patient and supplied their judges with the resources needed to perform our jobs with credibility. But I still had my reservations. But then I recalled the first time I shared my work with a professional writer. She is a multi-published writer, national best selling author of crime fiction. Her critique of my work was both informative and encouraging. She didn’t bite her tongue over the stuff that sucked. But then she took the time to show me how I could fix it.
I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time just how fragile my confidence in my abilities was and how the wrong person could have negatively impacted my budding career as a writer. But, fortunately, I’ll never know. Her constructive advice helped to make my story stronger and the fact that she took that extra time and effort helped to build my confidence in me.
Her example was the model I kept in my head as I reviewed the entries I was assigned to judge.
Here are a few nuggets I took away: