Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rambling Thoughts on Genesis Contest, Critiques, and Agents

I am not a Genesis Semi-finalist and that’s okay.

This was the first writing contest I’ve ever entered and I learned some things. pirate

Different judges view your work differently.

Why, of course, they do. (Duh! Slapping myself upside the head.) They’re people like anyone else.

That reminds me of an idea I had a few years ago. I had one of the characters in the book write my query letter. It went something like this:

Dear Agent,

I told Miss Sheila I would write this here query letter for her. Shucks, agents are just people—they put their britches on one leg at a time, less’n they’re one-legged.

Sure hope you ain’t one of them one-legged agents. Iffen you are, seeing as you’re one-legged, I reckon I can outrun you.

Some people just don’t have a sense of humor. Or perhaps my sense of humor is warped. Anyway, it didn’t garner me an agent. Not one with one or two legs. Perhaps I offended everyone. Perhaps I’m offending people now.

The thing is, you can’t please everyone. As Christians who write, our aim should be to please God. He gives the increase if we do his will.

I joined my first online critique group over fifteen years ago and guess what book was being critiqued? Thundersnow. I received conflicting advice right from the start.

One critique I remember said: “The mother is too mean.”

Guess what? I toned her down. Almost to the point that I lost my story.

Something I find difficult to understand—why do people think it’s unbelievable for mothers to humiliate and abuse their children? I see in the news a story about a mother withholding medication from her child. Unbelievable? Yet it happens.

A later critiquer told me, “Make Momma meaner. Up the ante.” While Momma is abusive, I’ve seen worse. This story is about Sarah Jane surviving that difficult situation.

Giving Momma back her meanness helped me regain my original story.

The thing is, as I’ve said, you can’t please everyone.  Write your story the way you think is right.

And then worry about getting the right agent—be he one- or two-legged.

Just make sure he has a sense of humor.


  1. Just what the one-legged doctor ordered. I got some rude reviews on my story, and yep, you guessed it: I don't make the cut. For some reason the relationship between my character and her sons was unbelievable. I must be an unbelievable mother, since I based that relationship on my own life with my sons!

    Thanks for uplifting my spirits.

  2. Daphne,
    So glad it helped lift your spirits! Funny how true-to-life events are harder to believe than things we just make up!

  3. You can't please everyone - so true! Of course, we all need criticism, other wise we wouldn't grow as writers. Often we don't see the obvious flaws because we are too emotionally attached to our work. However, there comes a time when you have to say, 'Enough!' Yes, we want our writing to be the best it can be, but we must also stay true to our own voice and vision.

  4. So true, Tracy. We need critiques, especially when we first begin writing. But we shouldn't let the critiques change who we essentially are.
    Thanks for your input.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.