Proofreader Services

For more information about my proof reading services, click here.

2015 Reading Challenge




I've pledged to read 26 books via the official Goodreads challenge. The rest of my 3 million words will more than likely come via proofreading jobs and fan fiction. Everything will be listed on the other side of the blog and you can view the details and numbers here.

2015 Goals

  • do more crafts
  • self-publish a book
  • research degree programs
  • work on the yards
  • ramp up my proofreading business
  • clean up/clean out the house
  • get healthy and well
  • write 2500 words a week
  • read 3 million words
  • reach the 120lb. mark

Followers

Blog Archive

You can replace this text by going to "Layout" and then "Page Elements" section. Edit " About "
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SPARK is subjective


I'm not an acquiring editor, though I wouldn't mind being one. I've submitted exactly one manuscript to an editor and received a rejection. As I said on Monday, the reason for rejection was because the editor didn't feel my manuscript fit the line I was submitting to. Which is fine, though she didn't say specifically how.

Over the years, a lot of authors, aspiring and otherwise have received rejections from agents and editors that really told then nothing except no. Reasons for rejections are generally vague at best and leave the writer frustrated and wondering what she might need to do to make her book wanted.

Sometimes, the answer really is nothing. Being an acquiring editor is, I think, a lot like judging a contest. You receive a slew of submissions and must read all levels of writing, from the beginner who is nowhere near ready to be published (that's what the contests are for) to the prolific writer who's been around the block a few times.

Since January, I've judged three RWA chapter contests with a total of sixteen entries. Of those sixteen entries, there have been two entries that I would have loved to have gotten my hands on the rest of the manuscripts. What was about them that made me cry out in dismay when I reached the end of the 25 pages I read?

It's that elusive thing I'll call SPARK. Some might say voice, but I can appreciate someone's unique voice without the writing sparking at me and making me want to read the whole damn book. In one sitting.

SPARK is subjective. What sparks for me doesn't spark for everyone.

And SPARK doesn't always equate to a higher score in a contest. Conversely, a higher score doesn't always mean an entry has that spark. That entry mentioned above--it didn't receive the highest score of the entries I judged.

The very last question on the score sheet for this last contest asks: After completing the selection, how much did you want to read more of the story? I get to answer by way of a number rating, 1 to 5. One being not very much and five being very much indeed.

The last couple of entries I read received relatively high marks from me overall. But when asked this last question, I'm compelled to rate them rather low. And why? Because, for me they didn't SPARK.

If you judge contests, are you a generous judge or a tough judge in terms of score? Do you give comments/feedback to the entrant?

4 comments:

Lara said...

I tend to be a tough judge, but I try to provide comments so that my feedback is constructive. I hate being told 'I don't like this' or 'This didn't work for me' without any further detail, so I try not to do that to people.

Jen FitzGerald said...

I did forget to mention that I do try to leave a lot of feedback, though that's tougher with a higher-scoring entry, as higher scores generally equate to an over better story and more experienced writer.

Regina Richards said...

I don't judge contests anymore. I'm too busy doing full reads. But back when I did judge, I rarely wanted to read more. That was not always the fault of the writer - many of the entries were wonderful - so I didn't necessarily grade down for that. My reading tastes are specific and many very talented NYC bestsellers can't make me want to go on. It isn't them, it's that their voice or character persona doesn't appeal to me. I recognize the work as skillful, it just may not be my taste. That's why when I judged, I tried to judge on the merits like an editor acquiring for a variety of readers might and not my personal preferences.

Lynne Kensington said...

I tend to be tough, since these people are not looking for praise, but rather constructive criticism. That doesn't mean they don't want praise or that I don't give it, just that the contests are not about patting someone on the back. This is not a fan fiction review, where the writer may indeed want honest feedback or may just want someone to say, "You're the best!" even if they can't write a grocery list. Editors will be harsher than I will, so I want to be sure the writer is ready for them.

About Me

My Photo
Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
View my complete profile

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Search

Loading...

Follow by Email

Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America

Read in Feb 2015

  • Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh (audio)
  • Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh (audio)
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries & Other Stories by John Taylor (audio)
  • Thrilling Stories of the Railway by Victor L. Whitechurch
  • Red Apples by naughtyspirit
  • Seven Times a Night in Baker Street by achray
  • Best Assignment Ever by wendymarlowe
  • A Week in the Country by chainsaw_poet
  • How to Miss a Train by suchaprettyface
  • A Bleeding Heart in longhand, ch. 18 by serpentynka
  • Unwasted by patternofdefiance
  • Comme de Enfants by Eliane
  • Life Toward the Light Will Dissolve by DoubleNegative
  • Gravity by thegingerbatch
  • The Holiday Cycle, ch. 1 by flawedamythyst
  • The Apology, ch. 3 by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in longhand, ch. 17 by serpentynka
  • A Satisfactory Arrangement by SilentAuror
  • Regarding the Flatshare A by OpalJade
  • A LIfe of Crime by chasingriver
  • Did You Say Tuesday? by chasingriver
  • Pillow Talk by chasingriver
  • Cough by chasingriver
  • Cambridge Weekend by chasingriver
  • Proposal by chasingriver
  • Double-decker by chasingriver
  • Kidnapped by randomly_rusted
  • The Specter at the Feast by gothikmaus
  • The Case of the Unexpected Guest by thirdbird
  • Undercover Heat, ch. 1 by Lavender Daye
  • Trespassing Heart (partial) by Mary Hicks
  • What John Doesn't Know Won't Hurt Him by blueink3
  • The Apology, ch. 2 by wendymarlowe
  • The DI and the Spy 2 by chasingriver
  • The DI and the Spy by chasingriver
  • I'm Pretty Sure This Changes Shit by cwb
  • A Reliable Man (series) by randomly_rusted
  • Protection Detail by randomly_rusted
  • An Education by randomly_rusted
  • Denigrating, Pejorative, Dissapproving by kirstenlouise
  • Cranes by chasingriver
  • Birthdays Are Tricky by peg22
  • An Ordinary Man by gothikmaus
  • A Reasonable Solution by gothikmaus
  • A Bleeding Heart in longhand, ch. 16 by serpentynka
  • The Apology, ch. 1 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 64 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 63 by wendymarlowe
  • Not Your Average Threesome by thirdbird
  • What Would John Do? by Solorosan
  • Watching the Northern Lights by Solorosan
  • Babysitting by Solorosan
  • Dear John, ch. 62 by wendymarlowe
  • Nobel 2014 by Solorosan
  • All Mobiles Should Be Turned Off... by Solorosan
  • Back to Black by gothikmaus
  • Ad Libitum by thegingerbatch
  • Slow by thegingerbatch
  • Stardust by thegingerbatch
  • Fitting by thegingerbatch
  • Dear John, ch. 61 by wendymarlowe
  • I Don't Love You and I Always Will by thegingerbatch
  • Ducks in a Row by kirstenlouise
  • A Bleeding Heart in longhand, ch. 15 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 60 by wendymarlowe
  • Rodeo Justice, chs. 1-3 by Robin Perini
  • The Yellow Poppies by SilentAuror
  • Dear John, ch. 59 by wendymarlowe
  • Battle Scars II, chs, 1 & 2 by Char Simser
  • An Ocean Between by Impish Tubist
  • A Bleeding Heart in longhand, ch. 14 by serpentynka
  • Dear John: In response to your last by MissyTheLeast
  • Dear John, ch. 58 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 57 by wendymarlowe
  • Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel
  • Dear John, ch. 56 by wendymarlowe
  • Strength in Numbers by kate1521
  • Tooth Decay... by Michelle Ray
  • Dear John, ch. 55 by wendymarlowe
  • The Outcast Highlander by R.L. Syme
  • The Norwood Love Builders by flawedamythyst
  • My Blogger's New Girlfriend by missilemuse
  • Secret Santa by azriona
  • Triage by Morgan_Stuart
  • Grabbing a Cuppa by methylviolet10b
  • The Sum of One Bond by Helicidae
  • All That's Made by hitslikehammers
  • A Bleeding Heart in longhand, ch. 13 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 54 by wendymarlowe

Read in Jan 2015

  • Bloody But Unbowed by BeautifulFiction
  • Dear John, ch. 53 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 52 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 51 by wendymarlowe
  • A Different Outcome by Tsylvestris
  • The Thing Is by Tsylvestris
  • Dear John, ch. 50 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 49 by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 12 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 48 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 47 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 46 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 45 by wendymarlowe
  • 5 Platonic Touches + 1 That Wasn't by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 11 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 44 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 43 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 42 by wendymarlowe
  • The Only One in the World by apliddell
  • The Adventure of the Consulting Corpse by apliddell
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 10 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 41 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 40 by wendymarlowe
  • On the Other Side by Mildredandbobbin
  • Dear John, ch. 39 by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 9 by serpentynka
  • Right Hand Man, ch.4 by SilentAuror
  • Bird's Bone by thesardine
  • Subtext, ch. 16 by notesfromaclassroom
  • Subtext, ch. 15 by notesfromaclassroom
  • Dear John, ch. 38 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 37 by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 8 by serpentynka
  • There's So Much Labor Just in Breathing Lately by Susan
  • Dear John, ch. 36 by wendymarlowe
  • Right Hand Man by SilentAuror
  • Flaunting It by DancingGrimm
  • Dear John, ch. 35 by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 7 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 34 by wendymarlowe
  • Myrddin's Memoir by Carol Pack
  • What If They Both Had Amnesia by EinahSirro
  • Negotiations by Canon_Is_Relative & Impish Tubist
  • Saving Sherlock Holmes by earlgraytea68
  • Dear John, ch. 33 by wendymarlowe
  • Pride, But Very Little Prejudice by sheffiessharpe
  • Pieces of Eight by sheffiessharpe
  • Vessel by Rhuia
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 6 by serpentynka
  • Dear John, ch. 32 by wendymarlowe
  • Dear John, ch. 31 by wendymarlowe
  • Manifest by causidicus
  • So Full of Light by mydwynter
  • The Weight of Knowledge by sherlocksdressinggown
  • Dear John, ch. 30 by wendymarlowe
  • Fan Mail by scullyseviltwin
  • A Christmas Soldier by Evenlodes_Friend
  • GE Entry by unknown
  • GE Entry by unknown
  • The British Government Only Asks Twice by azriona
  • Under the Coat by loopy456
  • At Least There's Football by sheffiessharpe
  • To the Gold of Frankincense Through Myrrh by sideris
  • Busy by MildredandBobbin
  • Between Midnight and Dawn by aderyn
  • A Catalogue of Wounds by UrbanHymnal
  • Best Seat in the House by wendymarlowe
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 5 by serpentynka
  • Four Chemicals Lestrade Was Glad Sherlock Gave Up by Lady_Ganesh
  • Four Times They Did and One Time They Didn't by peg22
  • The Tip Over to the Inevitable by ivyblossom
  • Lighting Up by Persiflager
  • Kicking Off by Persiflager
  • Home and Dry by BeautifulFiction
  • Normal for Bridgewater by marysutherland
  • No Mistletoe Required by BeautifulFiction
  • The Other Road by Writernon
  • Wrong Order by Dayja
  • GE Entry by unknown
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, ch. 4 by serpentynka
  • To Light Another's Path by BeautifulFiction
  • Dear John, Ch. 29 by wendymarlowe
  • Law Like Love by PlaidAdder
  • More Earth Than Fire by SwissMiss
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, Ch. 3 by serpentynka
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, Ch. 2 by serpentynka
  • Brand New Day by msgenevieve
  • The Cornish Cottage by flawedamythyst
  • A Bleeding Heart in Longhand, Ch. 1 by serpentynka
  • Terms of Service by kres
  • Sussex by SilentAuror
  • State of Flux by Atiki
  • Break Her Fall by JoAnna Grace