WRiTE CLUB 2014 - Wrap Up
I’d love to report that the fourth year of WRiTE CLUB was another rousing success - and so I will. One hundred and sixty seven writers entered the contest, smashing the old record to pieces and seriously stressing out our preliminary judges. Over the course of 14 weeks there were 1,695 votes, which averaged out to 45.4 votes per bout. And the level of competition continues to amaze me, the numbers doing nothing to diminish that. As we witnessed in the previous years, the contest started out strong and then numbers dwindled in the later rounds, which unfortunately is becoming the norm.
There are things about WRiTE CLUB that have been mentioned as concerns, but I feel my contest embodies a lot of the qualities the publishing world itself demonstrates. Pitting different genres against one another is one, but don't we face that same issue every time we step in a book store or shop on-line? Unless you only favor a single genre as a reader (and shame on you if you do), then we are always having to make that choice. And what helps us make that choice of which book to buy -- the quality of the writing. A good litmus test for deciding victory here is whether or not a writing sample leaves the reader wanting more. If nothing else, this should illustrate how we must each strive to adhere to this guiding principle in every phase of our work. We've seen some awesome 500 word snippets, but what about the next 500 words...and the 500 after that? We as writers cannot afford to coast, or compose filler that is supposed to simply serve as a bridge to the next major plot point, character interaction, or dramatic encounter. Our standards must be set higher than that and the luxury of complacency a foreign concept. A tough task indeed, but one we all embrace willingly.
Another one of the "concerns" I receive emails about is randomness. How is it fair that two quality writing samples, ones that possibly have the potential of making the final rounds, are pitted against each other in the first round? First I would answer that all 32 contestants in the first round are quality work (11 judges have seen to that). Second, the real world of publishing exhibits that trait all the time. Isn't it random how your query letter could land on an agents desk on the exact day he/she is in a bad mood? And finally, there are contingencies in place in WRiTE CLUB to help overcome this (Cocktail Lion was saved from elimination in the first round by a SAVE and went on the reach the finals).
This contest tries very had to combat the last concern I hear a lot. I have preached since day one that WRiTE CLUB is not a popularity contest, which is one of the reasons for pen names, so taking to the internet airwaves to ask for votes is not allowed. Ask people to vote - YES, ask them to vote a certain way - NO. Something that did disappoint me this year was that a contestant violated one of our WRiTE CLUB rules. Rule #2 - no solicitation of votes. It was something innocuous, suggesting the Twitterverse check out a certain contestant, but even this can be perceived the wrong way. Unfortunately I never said what would happen if I found out somebody was doing this, so I couldn't do anything about it this year (and it did not affect the final outcome), but there will be penalties outlined next year.
As far as next year goes, I'm waiting to see what happens. As I said at the start of this year's contest, the DFW Writers Workshop, who hold the DFW Writers conference every year, was considering incorporating WRiTE CLUB into their pre-conference agenda for 2015. The plan was to have the winner announced at the conference, but I'm still waiting to hear if they're liking that idea. More to come.
As I close things out this year, as I do every year, I'm asking for feedback. What did you like? Not like? What would you like to see improved? Please fill up the comments and help me improve this contest.
Hope to see you again next year!