In the words of Agent Maxwell Smart: "Missed it by that much."
My second book, Justice in H-Town, missed the cut for the Writer's League of Texas 2008 Novel Contest. Bummer. But I got my score sheet back...and it's full of little gems that are quite encouraging. There is a scoring system that consists of ten categories. Each category is awarded a score between 2 (Major problems) and 10 (Excellent). Here are my results, starting with the last one.
For anyone who thinks grammar is not important, talk to me. I mean, I'm a tech writer so I should have caught the little things (tic not tick; who's not whose; short not shot), right? Wrong. I got an 8.
Synopsis: 6 - I had to condense my one-page, single-spaced synopsis to a one-page, *double-spaced* synopsis. While the judges said "Great opening! Excellent premise.", they said the ending was somehow unsatisfying.
Hook: 10 - This judge said similar things that another judge mentioned: lose some of the introspection in chapter 1. "Great hook, though - the stand-off scene has a good tone and great tension. And the chapter end really leaves us hanging."
Structure: 10 (see a trend?) - "Great job - sucks me in and keeps the tension up."
Characters: 10 - [no comments]
Conflict: 10 - Money quote: "I'm dying to know what happens next!"
Dialogue: 10 - "Natural dialogue, good, snappy, internal monologue, and a great narrative/dialogue rhythm. Well done."
Setting: 10 - "Excellent job during the stand-off - great description."
Plotting: 10 - "...Excellent transitions and scene opening, good rhythm."
Technique/Style: 10 - "Very readable - funny, yet real and vulnerable main character. Good scene structure, excellent transitions, good tension. Nicely done."
Additional Comments: "Top contender; your grammar errors and synopsis held you back, but great job. Clean this up and send it out!"
Now, how's THAT for some Friday morning encouragement! And it couldn't have come at a more perfect time as I'm wallowing in doubt about the story. Uh, not any more. :-)