I volunteered to judge an RWA-sponsored contest again this year. I enjoy doing it, even though it is time-consuming. But I love to be able to help new authors hone their skills. The best part is being able to offer encouragement for them to continue writing. Writing is such a personal thing that you can easily dash someone's dreams with a cruel word.
There are two benefits to judging contests. 1) I get to encourage writers to keep at it. 2) I can analyze the craft of writing - plot, characterization, POV, GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and this is a MAJOR help with my own writing. It is oftentimes easier for us to critique other people's manuscripts than our own. Actually, it's MUCH easier to look at someone else's and find the holes than it is when I stare at my own WIP for days on end.
My husband gave me a few hours of peace and quiet today on this chilly Saturday to sit and read through a couple of the contest entries. I found it fascinating to see how some people write and equally fascinating that my creativity kicked in to offer suggestions to enhance characters or plots. It makes me eager to get back to my own work. I can feel myself start to get a bit grumpy and crabby when I stray too far from my fiction writing. That only tells me that I need to write. Much like exercise, I feel better after I've put in my 30 minutes (or more).
I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net
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