Monday, June 1, 2009

Contest Feedback Epiphany #1

Picture by betta design

Now that things have somewhat settled down after the move - though a long way from being "normal," - I took the time to really read my Genesis and TBL feedback. Besides of the usual confusion about how the same entry can be judged by different people and receive marks as high as a 93 and as low as a 54, I decided to just ignore the scores.

What I wanted to look for are those little gold nuggets of wisdom someone further along the road to publication dropped for me in the margin of my paper or in an overall impression. The result of this type of analysis was amazing!

So of course I want to share. However, not all my epiphanies will benefit YOU, since this was manuscript-specific, but perhaps it can apply to your own stuff.

My first epiphany sort of piggybacks off a post I wrote here about genre. Since I started my manuscript as a women's fiction (actually, chick lit - to use a waning industry term) and it morphed into a romantic suspense, I realized that my hero really is a bit underdeveloped as far as his goals, motivation and conflict. (Yes, reading Debra Dixon's GMC book right now....really good stuff. Highly recommend it.)

The reason for this underdevelopment is simple: I was writing a story centered just on the heroine's journey. In a lot of women's lit, the hero fits into the heroine's GMC (usually). Not the other way around. So my poor Joshua didn't really have a specific goal, or motivation. His conflict was brought about by his involvement with the heroine, but nothing intrisic for HIM.

Let me tell you...this has opened the doors as far as figuring out how to better layer this particular manuscript. The possibilities are endless. (Katie...just wait until I lay this on you!)'s my first epiphany. Any other genre but women's fiction (and even sometimes women's fiction) needs to have separate GMCs for the main characters! And if you're smirking at the screen right now, I'm sorry for not being as astute as I should have been to already have understood this! (But I never said my epiphanies weren't utterly basic in concept, either.) :)

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Ralene said...

Hey, an epiphany is an epiphany. You'll take this nugget of gold and use it to transform your novel into something magnificent! I'm going to have to read this GMC book

Jill Kemerer said...

Okay Jeannie--I had the same epiphany only six months ago! I had to rewrite much of the book I was working on. Isn't GMC a terrific book? Love it! Thanks for sharing.

Jessica said...

Promise I'm not smirking. I write romance and I'm just now struggling with this on an older manuscript.

Debra E Marvin said...

I did the same thing this weekend. I finally FINALLY had a chance to really go through and make 'notes to self' about my contest entries. It always takes a while to get past the things that don't make sense (as in, two judges that completely contradict each other . . . what to do with their suggestions?) But I think I've been able to pick up enough out of seven judged entries (so far . . . until the TBL's come back) to know what to do. For me it's not so much the GMC but pacing. I thought pacing was okay. It's not. Apparently it has to blow your hair back!

It's good to know we are all learning as we move toward the prize.

Jody Hedlund said...

Glad you could find such a great nugget from such contrasting scores! What's up with that?! I've heard of others getting those way contrasting scores and I just don't understand it. I heard someone say that maybe "readers" are more critical of entries than "writers" since writers know what things to let slide and what things are more critical? Not sure. But I've learned a lot about contests this year and think a lot of how a person does, depends on the judges they get!

Thanks for sharing your feedback! I'll look forward to hearing more of what you learned!

Liana Brooks said...

Good point.

Even if it's advice I've heard before, it's good to have a reminder. Thank you.

Katie said...

Bring it girl! I can't wait! I'd love to brainstorm with you on the telephone some GMC's for Joshy!

sherrinda said...

Thanks for the feedback, Jeannie! I have a question. In women's fiction, is it always just from the woman's point of view?

Terri Tiffany said...

Thanks for sharing about yours! I too had to look at the good and bad and I am so thankful I did it. I can't wait to submit next year!

M. L. Kiner said...

"The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Okay, why didn't my response here come up, too. Jody's got lost and so did yours, Jeannie. I HATE my computer!

I think I said something like, there are different requirements for the various genres and that I'd be praying for you to find Joshua's GMC and that it be fairly easy for you to incorporate into the story. Hope it's going well for you!

Jeannie Campbell said...

eileen....i thought i got your response, too! weird. but now it's definitely gone. i think something might be wrong with my computer, too. but i'm getting it checked out right now. thanks for the well-wishes!