Back in December, I learned about an unpublished novel contest that assessed the following criteria: characterization, setting, plot, dialogue, voice and writing skill. In addition to all this, the MS would receive feedback from the judges. Not a bad deal, right?
Although my draft was far from complete, I decided to enter it anyway, reasoning that the critique would identify areas of weakness in my writing. Well, needless to say, I finally heard back last week. The first forty pages of my draft were returned with the following letter attached:
The judges had mixed reactions to this particular manuscript, with some feeling it was well- paced and another saying there was not enough plot movement! One questioned whether the dialogue fit the time/ year/culture, while others felt it did. They all agreed on liking the expository details and descriptions, but wondered where the story was going. Consider beginning with a scene that hooks the reader with compelling action and a clear sense of what the protagonist wants.
It was difficult, but I tried to look at the bright side. The judges didn't criticize my characters or my writing, and the overall feedback was very constructive. Since the dialogue had previously been brought to my attention and I'd already corrected the problems, I overlooked that area of the comments and took the rest to heart.Once my third draft is completed (four more chapters to go), I will then make the recommended changes during the editing phase.
I realize it was a gutsy move to submit an incomplete MS, but in this case it worked out for the best. I now know where to focus my attention. Yet, despite all the positives that came from my decision, I still have a hard time keeping insecurities at bay. Some small part of me questions whether I'm good enough.
Intellectually, I know this kind of thinking is counterproductive, but shaking off negativity is easier said than done.
Not to worry, I'm not going to throw in the towel. That would be crazy after four long years of toiling over my book. I'll finish the game. After all, you only fail with you stop trying, I just think it would be easier to move forward if I didn't have to deal with these moments of insecurity. Do any of you ever feel this way? If so, how do you shake it? Until next time, happy writing.