This week I’ve been involved in Miss Snark’s Secret Agent Contest, where an anonymous literary agent critiques submissions on line. (If you don’t know about Miss Snark, please check her out at http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/p/secret-agent.html OR at http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/ for this week’s first 250 words of a MG or YA completed novel.) Friend Rose told me about the contest. I subbed at noon on Monday, missed the first window by subbing too late (4 minutes after the hour v.s. 2; gotta be quick with these things), but made it in during the second window of submissions (by getting my email all set to go according to the rules, and keeping my finger hovering over the “send” key as I watched the clock change to 7 p.m. — a nice hint from Rose). I’ve be critiquing many of the subs, and just today the Secret Agent — oh, I wonder who s/he is! — has started commenting on them.
Interesting things learned from this experience:
1) I work well with deadlines;
2) I like clear-cut rules;
3) I enjoy reading first pages and the critical thinking involved on how a piece of writing could be improved;
4) I love writing communities;
5) I get to see if what I critiqued matches what a real-life agent has to say, and use his/her observations to improve my own writing.
Be brave. Enter contests. Learn from others. And keep on writing.