I recently participated in a contest hosted by Shelley Waters on her blog Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book. The rules had us post the first 250 words of a finished manuscript and allow for comments on how to improve it. The post that appeared on the front page for those days is now moved to it’s on page Here. Feel free to check it and the comments. After two days of comments, we made edits and posted our revised 250 words on her blog to be review by agent Victoria Marini of the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency.
The entire incident, not sure that’s exactly the correct word, was some what nerve racking. I’m considering whether I am too close to this particular story, or just not ready for the harshness of honest, I trust they were honest, criticism. One of my issues with the responses I received is that many of those responding neither read nor write in the genre of my story. I find it a little difficult myself, to adequately respond to another genre. Some things are genre specific, what might work in one genre, may very well be the undoing in another. Again, I don’t dismiss the possibility that I am just too close to this story.
As is expected in these situations, I took in what was offered, weighed it against what I wanted, how I wish for the piece to appear and the feeling I want to project from the short few words allotted. I have this to say, 250 words is nothing. Remember that we as writers are trying to grab the audience’s attention, readers, other writers, agents, publishers and we need to do that post haste, but OMG, it can be difficult in only 250 words. I trust I am not the only one finding the experience both exhilarating and frightening.
Below is what was posted for the contest;
“Come on, come on, come on,” Lace muttered. She paced, stopped, looked around seeing naught but streetlights and the occasional passer-by. This part of the Midwestern United States with its small towns, the era with its faster pace, wasn’t like her adoptive home, yet no one took notice as she pulled her travelling cloak tighter and began the pace again.
“Where are you?” she whispered, then a little louder as if that might help. “Please, show yourself.”
She had come on the promise of a prophecy, but time was running out. Running out, she thought, nearer to expired. Unconsciously she rubbed the underside of her forearm. She glanced inside the diner to where her travel companions sat eating and laughing. Laughing, if I were inside…, before remembering the lot didn’t know the gravity of the situation. Neither the truth of their travel, nor how near the end stood. In the distance, a dog bawled. Closer, the oppressive sweet smell of maple wafted from inside. Lifting the sleeve of her tunic, she looked at what had only a turn gone had been ridges, now angry red furrows, the result of magic she knew better than to have invoked.
“Dark as blood.” She breathed into a night that suddenly took a chance to blackest pitch and chilled. Every light within a block extinguished, not that it limited her sight, only stiffened her back. Lace closed her eyes, remembering the gathering in the tavern. The argue of blame before the others arrived. And then… him.