WRiTE CLUB 2018 - The Winners POV



Something that is becoming a bit of a tradition here at WRiTE CLUB is having the winner recap their experience throughout the contest, all the way up until the moment they hear their name called out on the stage during the DFW Conference. Here with his take on what it's like to claim the ultimate prize, is ADEN POLYDOROS.  


I learned about Write Club while searching for agent pitch contests, as I was currently looking for a literary agent at the time. I had never heard about the contest until then, and once I read about the premise, I was excited to enter. It seemed like a fun change from querying and I loved the whole concept of it. I had several different pieces that I was considering submitting. Since contestants had the opportunity to submit twice, I eventually decided to go with a flash-fiction piece and my favorite excerpt from the YA dark fantasy piece I was querying.

All throughout the waiting period, I was filled with tension. When the judges posted hints on Twitter about their picks, I couldn’t stop wondering if they were talking about my entry.

When the 30 contestants were announced, I was ecstatic. I had made it in with my flash fiction piece!

During the first round, I found myself repeatedly refreshing my entry page to see if there were new votes. I kept a tally sheet for myself, calculating the odds. The other contestant was a worthy opponent, and with the vote count rather close, was concerned that it would make it to the next round. Even after winning the first round, I didn’t allow my win to go to my head. I knew that my entry would have to win the cage bout, outmatching two other opponents, before I could test my merit with a new 500-word sample.

The cage bout was even more intimidating, with my flash fiction piece being pitted against two other winners of previous rounds. Votes would be sparser in this round than the earlier rounds, and every vote counted. I decided that keeping a running tally was unhealthy and deleted my spreadsheet. I tried to focus on revising my manuscript, but I couldn’t help checking into the contest every now and then. On the final day, I promised not to look at the page until after the deadline. I had won, defeating the two other worthy contestants!

Realizing that I had won filled me with a whole different anxiety as I racked my brain for what to enter next. I played with a few possible excerpts before deciding to enter the first 500 words of my YA dark fantasy. I figured it would be a good way to get readers’ opinions on the start of the novel, and also allow me to fix any problems they might spot.

When I read the other contestant’s piece, I was troubled. They had a strong excerpt with the same dark fantasy vibes that I was going for in my piece. Even worse, their entry had a satisfying conclusion, while mine was only the first two pages of a much larger work. This round felt even closer than the two that had come before it, and as the round deadline drew near, I fell back into my old habit of refreshing the contest page repeatedly. Hoping to boost my confidence, I began searching for another excerpt to use if I won the next round. On the day of the deadline, I was practically glued to DL’s website, counting down the minutes. I had come so far, it would be so disappointing to lose now.

After narrowly scraping by in the third round, I knew I’d have to bring something good to the table for the fourth round. Since voters seemed to like my piece from my YA fantasy, I decided to use another excerpt from that novel. I wanted to bring in another monster than the one on the first page, so I chose the excerpt that introduces a golem.

In the semi-finals, I was pitted against the contestant from my first round. They made the brave decision to use a dialogue-only excerpt, which I thought was creative and a unique change from their previous excerpts. I kept track of the votes in this round, but not as religiously as I had done in previous rounds. The constant anxiety of wondering if I would get to the finals was beginning to drain on me, and I decided that no matter what happened, I should be proud that I got as far as I did.

That being said, when I made it to the finals, I couldn’t help but feel a slight dread, knowing I wouldn’t be able to check who was winning. The votes were kept secret from us until the last day, and although readers were able to comment and vote on the entry they thought would win, it was no guarantee that the one with the most comments would be the winner.

I wasn’t able to attend the FDW conference this year, but a friend of mine promised to videotape the winner announcement for me. I felt shocked when I saw the video and realized that I had won. I had tried to keep my excitement down throughout the contest to avoid disappointment, but to actually win—I had never expected that. It was immensely gratifying to know that I had won, that strangers had enjoyed my writing and voted for it. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in Write Club this year, and I think that it provides such a wonderful learning environment for readers. I can’t wait to participate in future years as a judge!

I want to thank Aden for taking the time to do this for me...and really for anybody who might be interested in entering the contest next year.  Getting tips from previous winners never hurts!

4 comments

  1. That last round must've been tense. Sorry you couldn't attend the conference but that was great of a friend to tape it for you.

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  2. I was a slush pile reader, and I still remember how I felt when I read your submission piece. It gave me chills, and I'm not exaggerating about that. There were a lot of wonderful submissions to choose from, but yours stuck with me for weeks afterward. As a writer, I understand the tension you felt, but I wasn't in the least bit surprised that yours was selected. Throughout the competition you continued to submit wonderful writing samples, and I'd like to congratulate you on your win. Well done!

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  3. Love it. There's nothing so wonderful as winning a contest with high competition. Go, Aden! (And go Don for hosting and keeping this epicness running!)

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