June Rodriguez
I've got some good news to share! I just found out that I'm a finalist in 2009 The Golden Gateway Contest. I'm so thrilled with my scores! The suggestions the judges made were a little confusing because one or two of the comments seemed like they should have resulted in lower scores. What should I do?

Congrats Sarah. That was a good contest to enter. They gave you a lot of feedback. So now you have to decide how much of what they said about your story you are going to use and what you will not use. The one thing you have to remember is that this is your story and ultimately you are the writer. Don't lose your voice in what you write.

The second thing you have to remember is that you only have a four-day deadline. While the temptation to address all the issues in the contest critiques will be great, don't try to make an immense rewrite. Your scores were so high, I would stick to spelling errors and missing words.

Wish I had been there to hear the big news firsthand, but share in everyone's congratulations and cautions. No judge is going to give a perfect score, so your's are as close as they come. I agree with Sunny that you should resist the urge to rewrite. Look for those things, like spelling and grammar problems that when fixed will make your writing more professional and polished. Also, keep in mind that this is your first attempt at such a contest, but it is not the last one available to you. Trust yourself and your writing.

Some of us (me) have a problem reading first person. It takes a different thought process than what I am used to. Critiquing 1st person is still a learning environment for me. You guys have more experience with it in mysteries and thrillers. What are some of the areas to watch for in writing this style? Would P.O.V. be a possible trouble topic?

I'd never thought about 1st person being a reading problem. Does it have something to do with genres? You're right--mystery readers are very used to 1st person, the story told from the sleuth's POV. It can be restraining because we don't jump POV much.

I do both 1st and 3rd, depending on how I approach the story. While my novels are in 3rd, many of my short stories are in 1st. And, as all of you know from our critique sessions, I'm trying a novel in both 1st & 3rd delineated sections. Have no idea if I can pull it off.

Wow, sorry I missed this conversation. As a thriller writer, 3rd person multiple POV is the norm for me. However, in my foray into short story writing I have contemplated using 1st person, but haven't done so until now. I'm working on a new short story where it will only have the affect I want by telling it in 1st person. As a mystery reader I'm familiar and comfortable with reading in 1st person, so long as it's not written in present tense. That is still a writing form that I find distracting for some reason and can't get into reading.

Bottom line is that POV should fit the type of story being written. As to what to watch for, the key issue with 1st person is that the reader can only know what the 1st person character knows. That means that anything that happens offstage outside of the character's view, hearing, etc. has to be conveyed to the character some other way, such as a phone call or report from another character. Also, means that we never get to know what another character thinks, we only know what our 1st person character thinks they're thinking sort of thing. One advantage of 1st person, and perhaps this is what you're not used to, is the reader can develop an intimacy with this character in a way that's distinctly different from 3rd person. On the other hand, perhaps you are struggling with reading the word "I" too many times. I think that's a challenge when writing 1st person. Too many Is stands out to the reader and can interrupt the flow of the story. Starts to feel like you're reading I, I, I . . . . So perhaps you could help, as a critique partner, to find ways to convey the same information and avoid the use of another "I" if possible.

There's no quicker way to whip an author into a froth quite like trying to take a bite outta POV. I know I have a hard time with 1st person. Like beacons, all the I's catch my eye. I get distracted AND I feel robbed being only in one person's POV. I'm nosy! I want the 4-1-1 from every character. As a suggestion, look at how other authors blend POVs or master the art of 1st person. No better way to learn than by example.

But, don't you ladies think that often the story itself dictates whether it's to be in 1st person or 3rd? I have a feel for who's telling the story at the conception. I've also suggested that when a person is struggling to make the decision, try a few paragraphs both ways.

As for present tense, the only author I feel pulls it off is Chuck Palahniuk. I'm sure there are more, but that's who I read.
Let us know what you think about our group dynamic. What is your take on contests and P.O.V.
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9 Responses
  1. I enjoyed your round table discussion. Either person works for me when I'm reading, but I prefer to write in close third person.

    What I have a hard time reading is present tense. Yes, I know some people do it extremely well--but it takes me a while to get into it. And some people don't do it well at all.


  2. PS, this is the best looking blog I've ever seen. Wow! Congratulations.


  3. Ladies,
    I am very impressed. You look and sound so professional. I'm looking forward to jumping on this train and riding it all the way to the end!

    Sarah - again, Kudos to you! I hope you knock 'em dead!

  4. Hi Ladies,

    Great roundtable and thank you so much for inviting me. I am a newly published author and POV is a definite trouble spot for me. I break all the rules. Can we have new rules please??? LOL

  5. Very nice blog.
    As for POV, it does depend on the a story you're writing and if you want it to be 1st person or 3rd. I actually am reading a novel by Maggie Stiefvator that is in 1st, but she does each chapter from the hero one time and from the heroine's POV the next one.
    I've done both.

  6. Marilyn,
    Thanks so much for the compliment. I hope you will join us here often.

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  8. My First release, Surviving With Love, is a contemporary romantic adventure. My second, Looking Through The Mist, is a contemporary psychic romantic mystery/suspense. LOL Sorry but different retail sites have tagged the 2nd one several different ways. Sarah had me on her block back in May when Surviving was first released. Thanks for the interest.

  9. Hi Ginny,
    Glad you stopped by. We are still working out some of the bugs. This is a new idea that Sunny suggested. We will post again next Monday morning. Let us know what you think as we take on other topics.

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