It’s not intentional. Excuse #1 The end of the school year is crunch time for all teachers, but English teachers have the extra task of reading and grading papers. My students’ papers were 8-10 pages long, and I read each one twice. Once for content, and again for syntax and structure.
Excuse #2 I recently came back from a week of being an AP exam reader. Trust me, when one reads essays all day for seven days, you are too tired of words to write.
Excuse #3 (which may be the most valid): I’m writing other things. But alas, I have run out of valid excuses, so here I sit across the table at Starbucks from my writer friend Rita Smith, pecking out this post on the keyboard.
I had entered the first twenty five pages on my current book in a novel contest, which of course I didn’t win, but I received something valuable: judge’s comments. Out of fifty points, one judge gave me 47, and the other 39. Not bad scores. Both judges gave high marks on what I consider to be most important: the writing, characters and dialogue. Both deducted points on my numerous typos. Typos are my albatross. I even had a friend scan the pages for typos, but to be fair to her, she was working on her MFA thesis and was not able to give my manuscript a close read. So the blame falls utterly upon me.
The lower scoring judge also commented he/she didn’t care for Shelly, my female lead. The judge found her shallow. Shelly tries to portray herself as shallow, but part of the story deals with Michael discovering what lies beneath the surface.
Another issue the snarky judge had was with my synopsis; he/she said I don’t reveal the ending. I allude to the resolution, but do not state it outright. The judge who scored me highly didn’t seem bothered by the vague reference to the ending. His/her only negative comment was I capitalized the names of the characters, which I had read was the proper format.
So…..are we supposed to tell the ending of our tale in a one page synopsis? Are we supposed to capitalize the LEAD CHARACTERS’ names?
I am pleased with my 86/100 score. Having strangers compliment my work motivates me to not only continue working on the novel, but to focus on my improvements. Our friends and family think we are brilliant and will offer effusive praise on everything we do. It’s the strangers we need, those hooded, nameless characters with their red pens who will tell you the truth.
Besides, it’s a good thing I didn't win because I’m not done writing the tale yet. I know how it ends; I just haven't written the final scene yet.