Monday, January 25, 2010

Shining Through

Well, I've held those precious Golden Heart manuscripts in my hands. I both skimmed them and spent hours pouring over them, even pulled my dictionary from the shelf and learned a new word or two. It is an honor and a privilege to do so. As an active member of RWA, I consider it an obligation.

But more than anything, it's fun!

Oh, dear. I have to spend hours upon hours reading romance stories? Poor, poor me. Such a hardship. :)

The first time volunteered to judge, I did so with my heart in my throat. Who was I to pass judgment over a stranger's hopes and dreams? Had I not picked up many a bestseller, only to abandon the story by chapter three in sheer boredom? Therefore, would it not stand to reason that I was a really very poor judge of what could be deemed quality genre fiction?

But I did it anyway.

Oh, what I learned! I should have been paying those contestants; it was as good as any class. To hold the manuscript in my hands--yes, I think reading the printed pages made a difference, lesson one for me--
and watch the story unfold before my eyes, taught me so much about my own work. Each year I judge these, I learn something new. Pacing, opening sentences, chapter breaks, voice, grammar, characterization, secondary characters, setting--synopsis!--and what qualifies as a romance....

Do you judge? And if you judge the GH, what do you think of the "score only, no comments" rule?


Renee said...

I've judged in contests that I've previously entered, but I haven't the nerve to judge the GH. I haven't entered either.

I haven't judged a contest that is no-comments, so I'm not sure if I'd like it or not. I know that when I do judge I like to leave notes, especially when I see brilliance.

Gillian Layne said...

Renee, I'm certain you're more than qualified to judge the GH.

It's wonderful to really get involved in each story--when it goes on for 40-50 pages, then you really get a taste for an author's voice. I've enjoyed it so much.

That said, it would be great to leave comments. But I understand why they run the contest the way they do.

Lee McKenzie said...

Gillian, I'm so glad you find judging the GH to be a positive experience. I didn't judge this year, but I have in the past. It's more nerve-wracking than judging other contests because it seems so much more is riding on it.

Did you enter this year? As a four-time finalist, I can assure you there are many benefits!

Gillian Layne said...

Hi Lee!

Yup, I entered. I figure why on earth not? You never know....:)

Lee McKenzie said...

Good for you, Gillian, and good luck!