Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Golden Rose Contest

Back in early July I entered Bound to Love in the Golden Rose Contest, which is run by Rose City Romance Writers, in Portland, Oregon. I heard about this contest through Trish Wylie's blog, and upon investigation decided it would be a great thing to enter, because all entrants are judged by 3 judges, and a score sheet and detailed summary is provided to everyone.

Yesterday, I received my scores back, and although not a winner or even a finalist, I must admit that the process has been a good one. Each judge provided a score sheet and a marked up version of my submission, which was the first 50 pages.

The first catagory scored was Characterization, with a total score possible of 20 points. To give you an idea, they rated each question 1-5, five being publication ready, 4 being extremely minor revisions, 3 being some revisions, 2 being many revisions, and 1 being major revisions required.
The questions under characterization were:
Are the character's physical descriptions vivid? Can you picture them?
Are main characters sympathetic despite flaws/faults? Would you root for them as the story progresses?
Are secondary characters necessary and non-intrusive? Do they add interest and issues to the story?
Are character's actions/reactions appropriate and consistent?

They have sections on Conflict/Motivation, Dialogue/Narrative, Pacing/Plotting, Description/Setting, Craft/Mechanics, Style/Voice, Romantic Tone and a Bonus question.

Now its always difficult to hold up your creation for analysis, but I really believe it can be worth it. Especially if you grit your teeth and take the comments not as criticism, but as the help that they actually are.  The total available points are 190, and if you receive 80% of the total (e.g.152) as your lowest grade, you are on to the next round. The top 10% of those are wittled away until they come out with a winner.

I did an editing course (previously mentioned on this blog) in August, a month after sending my first 50 pages, and after submitting an entire of it to a publisher. It was declined by the publisher, but they agreed to re-read an edited version, and with the knowledge I gained from the course I hope I did a good enough job, time will tell! (It's back out there, fighting for its life!). The Golden Rose results and detailed breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of the book backed up the comments I got from the publisher, so I know that the areas that were weak have been addressed, and also know that all 3 judges said that they would like to read the rest of it, so that's consolation at least.

My weaknesses are my weaknesses, but something I should have seen coming and could have done a lot to mitigate against was what the judges took to be spelling mistakes. It's worth remembering that submitting to the USA we need to check the spelling for UK English and change to US English. I was docked points for this.

Finally, for those who are wondering, I scored 127, 147 and 163 from my judges, and would have needed lowest of 152 to get through.


  1. Hi Sally. Very interesting blog. Congrats on placing highly and it's good to see that you got a lot out of it. It will be something to think about for next year me thinks. BTW it was interesting to see how you were "marked". It will be good to use *their* pointers as an aide memoir when plotting out a story! Take care. Caroline x

  2. Thanks Caroline, I would have really loved it if I'd got through to next round, but theire comments justified and useful, so have to take the best out of it! All crits are useful, but I like the feedback, its better to know where I fell down rather than just know I didn't make it! xS

  3. Congrats on placing so highly Sally!

  4. Sally, thanks so much for the heads-up about the Golden Rose. I'd never heard about it before. You are so right about the point of entering contests (and the NWS) - it's not as much about winning as it is about getting your writing to the point where you can SELL it!

    Congrats on the sale of your short story!

  5. Oh, well done. Those are good scores.


  6. Very interesting, Sally. It sounds similar to the way the Daphne du Maurier award is scored.

    Keep up the excellent work!

    Suzanne Adair (2009 Daphne finalist)

  7. Thanks Suzanne, (off to check Daphne Due Maurier award now)And congratulations again on your finalling (I'm sure that's not a word, but I'm before coffee, go figure)