On a whim, I decided to submit my latest WIP (work in progress) to the yearly ACFW (acfw.com) First Impressions contest. Contestants submit their back cover blurb of 500 words and the first five pages of their WIP.
In November, I discovered my story made the finals along with two others in my chosen category.
Two days ago, I received the phone call that my story won. Was I excited! Making the finals to start meant that the judges believed my story was good enough to continue on, and to win is a writer’s second-best validation (The first is for readers and/or publishers to actually purchase said story).
Aside from winning, the best part of the contest is the judges’ score sheets and comments on the submission. The score sheets ask questions such as:
• Did you want to keep reading more when you reached the end of the five pages?
• Did the author hook you in the opening page, enticing you to keep reading?
• Was the dialogue engaging and interesting?
Even if my story hadn’t won, the comments and score sheets are invaluable. I now know — in general — the story’s strengths and weaknesses. None of it came as too much of a surprise, because I know what my weaknesses are. Although I did discover my weaknesses aren’t as weak as they used to be, such as too little detail while at the same time being too wordy.
In short, taking all the comments into consideration — especially where the judges agree — I have one more major edit to go, and it might be ready for submission to prospective agents.