Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Word(s) Count

I've been thinking about contests lately. I've never considered my competitive side to be a flaw, but it does twist me in knots. I've nothing but admiration for people who beat me fairly. When I lose at something, I don't throw fits, I ruminate and review and figure out where I went wrong before attacking the thing all over again. Despite the way competition cramps my gut, it ultimately leads to improvement.

Bam has that first of the month 200 word contest. I think I've come in 2nd twice, but I can't regret* it as I have started two enjoyable stories from the 200 word entries I wrote. I also entered the Samhain 1st line contest, and so far I've made it to the second round.

Both the 200 word contests and the first line contest have forced me to focus on how every word counts - how to put the most action and punch into two hundred words, how to create the best possible hook with the first five lines. With previous stories, I've been so daunted by my word count goal that I often wrote more than was necessary, and ended up bored by my own story midway through. Since I've been focusing on making my words and sentences count, I haven't had any problem reaching my length goals. Who knew all those "quality over quantity" people would be so right?

*Okay, I do admit I was a little perturbed over the last contest when I had an early lead and later got clobbered by like 40 votes for the winning entry. I was feeling pretty lousy until I moseyed over to the winner's blog and discovered: a) I'd been clobbered by a published writer; b) she'd posted a couple of different entries in her blog asking her readers - of which she had significantly more than 2 - to check out the contest and vote. I can't feel too bad about losing under those circumstances - or, rather, I shouldn't feel too bad because sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we simply can't (and shouldn't) hope to compete. That doesn't mean I'll stop trying, it just means I'll try to skip the usual round of review and recrimination for a nice hot bath and a good book.