One of my New Year's Goals for 2008 was to enter a literary contest. And I did! I entered TFM in the novel writer's contest PNWA puts on every year. For this, one submits a synopsis (not to exceed five pages) and the opening chapter(s) for their novel so that the entire submission is 28 pages or less.
I checked the site the other day and saw that I am not a finalist. And that sucks. Because I wanted to win so very badly!
So, I got my two critiques in the mail today. Writers don't get to see the actual score sheets, but I can surmise from the comments that I had to have scored high in almost every category from both readers. They both said they got very sucked in by the voice, and found the idea and style engaging. One used exclamation points about how the humor and emotional scenes were particularly evocative. As far as criticisms, I'm guessing one must have marked me down in the mechanics category because s/he said there were two missing words: one in the synopsis and one on page 19. I just checked and there is nothing missing anywhere! I must have fixed those errors after sending out the submission? The other reader must have marked me down about whether the protag's motivations are clear because s/he pointed out in the comments that s/he didn't learn until page 22 that this is about a death issue, and said that I should make it clearer sooner. Which is certainly something to consider.
Anyway, they were great critiques in the ego-stroking way, which is excellent! Except... I still didn't win. And I didn't place. And I wasn't even a finalist. :-(
I spent a little time today looking into other novel contests that are run in this same way. Most of the deadlines have long since passed for 2008, but there are two or three still open until the fall. I might enter. You know, to see if I can get some fricken validation over here!