Can’t please everyone

Okay, so remember that contest I entered? It had two categories: short story and novel. I took third in short story, and the first 15 pages of our novels were judged by two different people. They used this scoring sheet system where they could leave comments, and they were kind enough to mail those scoring sheets to me yesterday.

One judge loved my two novel entries. And one…absolutely hated them. He didn’t even like my writing, called it “flat and one dimensional.” He called my concepts “trite and hokey.” Said my worlds felt “made-up, unrealistic and convoluted.” I remember the organizer for the contest telling his fellow writers one time to make their first scenes action-packed without much exposition, so as to hook the reader. This judge wrote, “too much action, too fast-paced” and “needs more exposition.” He suggested I read sci-fi authors from the sixties and try to copy their styles.

Contrast this with the second judge who said, “very imaginative world” and “great high-action opening” and “nice balance of action and description.” There were lots of nice things in these sheets. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t please everyone all the time, and you can’t please some of them at ANY time! I guess I should just be grateful that someone else was judging the short stories.

It’s hard to not let something like this shake my confidence. I’m doing my best, though. Keep goin, keep movin on. Open up my newest project and add some one-dimensional flatness to it. ^_^

What’s shaken your tree before? Anything made you want to throw your hands up and quit? Who talks you down from the ledge? Give a shout out!


8 thoughts on “Can’t please everyone

  1. Hi Barbara!

    I wonder if that second judge was as harsh on everyone else. Please disregard his advice, especially to copy the styles of 60s authors. I’ve read some classic SF, but I think it’s also important to be familiar with current work.

    I’ve had some goofy feedback before, some of it tangential to the work itself. Most of the time I just let it slide.

    • Thanks for the advice, Sandra. I am quickly moving from hurt feelings to vaguely sanguine. ^_^ I too think it’s more important to be aware of what’s selling now. I’m lucky I have a pretty quick turnaround when it comes to shrugging off negativity. I feel very badly for anyone who submitted their first story, perhaps, who got a similar critique, especially if it was their first critique ever!

  2. Wow, that criticism would have rocked my confidence, too. I haven’t experienced anything that harsh, probably because I don’t submit things often enough.

    My kids provide my encouragement, though they don’t have any interest in reading my “stuff.” They tell me I should follow my dreams and never give up. Good advice, I think.

    • It’s hard to bounce back from, Carol, but not impossible. Luckily, I have the wonderful people like you who read this blog, and my face-to-face writing group to help me through. Yes, your kids give very good advice. Hug them for me, if that’s not too creepy. ^_^

  3. Let me get this straight. He said to read sci-fi authors from the SIXTIES and try to COPY their styles?

    umm…I wonder how many 60s-inspired novels he sells.

    It’s possible he found something unsettling in your writing, but his reaction was way off the mark.

    Ignore and move on. He is not your audience.

  4. I had a similar experience. One contest judge liked my work, another didn’t. I chose to listen to the one that did šŸ™‚

    Seriously, there’s so much out there on how to do what and what people like, that you’ve got to put it in your toolbox and take out what you want and feel you need when writing.

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