It's traveling time again for several, who are on their way to St Louis and the ACFW Christian Writers' Conference. Don't know if I'll see you there. But since we are all on the road to somewhere, I think, if you've ever had an inkling to write, or if you already do, and are now thinking of joining some writing contest, I'm sure you'll get a lot out of this great writing tip from our contributing author, Anne K. Albert.
Writing Contests and the Road to Publication
by Anne K. Albert
The road to publication can be a gauntlet of trials, tribulations, road blocks, pot holes and traps. Yet, science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein_bibliography believed a writer need only do five things to achieve success.
(1) You must write
(2) You must finish what you write
(3) You must refrain from rewriting, (except to editorial order)
(4) You must put the work on the market
(5) You must keep the work on the market until it is sold
Heinlein often joked he had no qualms of sharing his “secret” with the so-called competition because most writers lack the self-discipline to complete all five steps of the process.
Years later, Robert Sawyer took the rules one step further with simple math. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm
If 100 writers decide to follow Heinlein’s rules only 50 will actually do rule #1 and write.
Surprised? How many people do you know who claim that one day they’ll write a book? They need to write it now!
Let’s move onto rule #2. Finish what you write.
Again, only half will achieve that goal, leaving us with 25 of the original 100.
Rule #3 dictates you must refrain from rewriting. How many writers labor on the same manuscript for a decade? I know a few. You probably do as well.
Sawyer claims only 12.5 writers will complete this rule.
Rule #4 is putting your work on the market. Fear of rejection can be paralyzing. Fewer than 6 of the original 100 who began this challenge are brave enough to submit their work.
Rule #5 separates the authors from the writers. Only 3 will persevere and keep their work out in the market until they sell and achieve their goal.
Pretty daunting statistics, but entering writing contests can help. Seriously. They provide a perfect opportunity to follow Heinlein’s five rules. But you can do it in smaller, more manageable chunks.
(1) Contests force you to write.
You must have a story to enter a writing contest. It’s mandatory! This does not mean a complete manuscript. As few as five typed pages will do. Contests requirements vary from 5 to 50 typed pages. Start small. Five to ten pages is doable. Work your way up to ‘meatier’ contests.
(2) Contests require you to finish what you write.
Even if your submission is only five pages in length, those five pages should shine and leave the reader/judge drooling for more. Give them your best five pages.
That means no typos. No spelling mistakes. Not a single reason to pull the reader/judge out of your story. End your entry with a hook that leaves them wanting more. Never make the rookie mistake I did by submitting the first five pages, and ending in the middle of a sentence!
(3) Entering a contest forces you to refrain from rewriting.
While your entry should be free of typos, spelling and grammar mistakes, there comes a time when you just have to stop and let it go because every contest has a specific deadline. This deadline forces you to quit tweaking, editing, revising, and changing. Failure to do so could result in you not only forfeiting your entry fee, but missing an opportunity to get your manuscript read by a published author, an editor or agent.
(4) Entering a contest is like putting your work on the market.
Like agents and editors, contest judges are first and foremost impartial readers. They do not know you or your work. They will either be enthralled by your story…or not so much! What’s super about writing contests is that unlike agents and editors who generally just provide a yea or nay, contest judges will say what they think you did well, as well as how to improve your story.
This provides yet another step of the process, it’s time to take their editorial direction to heart and make the changes that will improve your story.
(5) Entering multiple contests is like keeping your work on the market until it is sold.
Huh? It’s true. On average most writers achieve publication after completing 4 or 5 manuscripts. That’s how a writer learns to write. Trial and error. Word after word.
In the meantime, enter contests. They’re a great opportunity for an unpubbed writer to build writing credits. Winning a contest can move you out of the slush pile and directly onto an editor or agent’s desk.
copyright 2011 - Anne K Albert
Anne K. Albert writes stories that chill the spine, warm the heart and soothe the soul…all with a delightful touch of humor. Visit her website << http://www.AnneKAlbert.com >>, blog << http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com >> or on Facebook. << http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-K-Albert-Fan-Page/167338756619836?sk=wall >>
By the way. Which road are YOU on today?