At Work

At Work
If you wanna be a writer you gotta be a reader.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Here Comes the Judge: Reading for Literary Contests

I've been remiss on the blog but for  good reason:  I'm a reader for a national literary contest.  I won't name competition herewith, as work is ongoing.  And I truly mean ongoing.   I have 275 novels to read over the course of 4 months.  Nearly every day the courier comes with another box.  These are young adult novels, but some of them run to 400 pages, and every one must be given its due.  Its fair shake.

I'm one of five other readers, who are also writers like me.  We live across America, and meet on a Google document/spread sheet where we log in our comments for each book, and rank it. I can't say more about that, as work is ongoing.....  You get my drift here.   A serious competition like this is perhaps like a trial, wherein everyone says, "I can't comment because matters are under litigation."

But I can a few things generally:  reading novels in bulk, in volume,  is like getting an aerial view of publishing in America.  The predilections of some publishing houses are clear (girls books, genre fiction, seriously literary, fantasy).

I can also see the common "mistakes" that authors make.  I'm not talking English language here, but rather failures of vision--failure to see the work clearly.  As an artistic whole.

I approach each book with great hope that this will be THE ONE that will cut through the noise.  Will have the perfect balance of heart, vision, assemblage.  And I read until the author gives me an excuse to stop.  Which, dear reader (and writer), is the heart of the matter in terms of our writing

When I'm out the other side of this summer of reading, I'll be back here to talk about writing and everything I've learned from reading 275 novels in a row.  And why editors/judges stop reading your manuscript and move on to the next in the pile.

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