Back in May (or so, I don’t really remember), I found out about a contest on the Twitters. Which is where I find out about all my contests, to be honest. The contest was called Ink and Insights and I was drawn to it because it guarantees feedback on your submission by four critiquers, and entry into a contest where you may or may not win a prize.
Prizes are fun, sure, but I didn’t enter for that reason. I rarely win things. I was in it for the detailed, professional feedback. There was a fee (35 smackaroons, if I remember correctly), but for the amount of feedback I got, totally worth it.
I submitted a 10,000-word manuscript sample and got feedback returned pretty fast. Each judge scored the manuscript sample using numerical points to a maximum of 250 points per judge. Four judges + 250 points = 1,000 points, plus you can earn a bonus 15 by formatting the manuscript correctly (like adding a summary sheet, proper paragraph indents, etc). I got 14 of those points, because I didn’t check to make sure my margins were all 1 inch. Damn you, Microsoft Word defaults!!
My scoring from the judges ranged from 235 to 247 points out of 250 each. Plus 14 points. My total manuscript score was 969. Not too shabby, I thought, but certainly not enough to win anything.
Each judge returns a score sheet with pre-written questions that are scored the same way the post-hospital service questionnaire is. You know, when you’ve come home from the hospital or doctor’s office and you get a phone call a couple days later asking you things like “The nurse was friendly and smelled pleasant.” And then you get the options of “True. Somewhat true. Does not apply. Somewhat untrue. Untrue.” Choose one, and the office gets a score.
Ink and Insights score sheet was kind of that way. “The main character is well developed enough to feel real to the reader.” True, untrue, etc. Each of those criteria can earn between 0 and 5 points, and categories include the characters (protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters, character interaction, dialogue, emotional impact), plot (hook, premise, theme, goals, stakes), story (setting, clarity, context, background), and writing technique (show vs tell, style, description, etc).
That’s a ton of feedback for 35 bucks, right?? And every category has a section where the judge can leave a comment, AND THEY DO! I got great comments and very detailed feedback, and I was able to improve this story a lot.
So what I’m saying is, the contest was amazing even without prizes. 11/10 would enter again.
I got my feedback and forgot about the contest. Then I got an email: FINAL PLACEMENT.
“Oh yeah, this contest,” I thought. I’d check to see where I placed. I hoped for top ten at least. How cool would that be?
“Placement out of 152 Apprentice submissions: 2”
Whoa. Wait. Does that mean…
DID I JUST WIN SECOND PLACE?? IS THAT WHAT THAT MEANS??
The Judges’ Favorite entry is like halfway down the page of that link, so here’s a screenie of my entry:
So THAT’S cool. And I have new badges on my sidebar now. Hooray!
Next year when Ink and Insights rolls around again, I totally recommend entering if you have the means. It’s a great contest with amazing prizes, and by that I mean the intense feedback. The other prizes are nice but not the nicest part. Go check it out!