For the last two years I have been working on an historical novel series I'm calling the Uncommon Gentlemen. I thought book one was completely finished, having done four drafts and received much positive feedback from everyone I could get to read it. I submitted the first three chapters to a contest and waited. Well, the results were not what I had hoped for. I did not win, or make it to the finals in this contest. However, I did recieve a lot of feedback, which I am taking to heart. Three judges rated the manuscript on a scale of 1-10 on six different criteria. An overall score of 60 would be perfect. Judge #1, gave me a 36. Ouch! I felt a bit bruised by that, but she clearly saw potential in the story and her comments were quite detailed, and though I hate to admit it, quite valid.
Judge #2, was a bit kinder, giving me a 44 out of 60. Pointing out a few historical issues that I need to research. My assumption that they had cloths hangers in 1840 was incorrect. I now know cloths hangers, as we know them today, were not invented until 1869. Also they had issue with historical decorum inaccuracy. Under no circumstances would a Duke ever open his own front door, apparently. I consider my hand properly slapped for that faux pas.
Judge #3, gave me a 54. I like this judge. I want to find out who that person is, and make her my best friend. She loved my story, loved my characters, but saw the same historical inaccuracys as the others. Her critique was the most encouraging, but no less honest. It gave me hope.
I have to say, years ago, receiving these critiques, especially the first two, would have crushed me. The benefit of being older is that I know just how resilient I really am. If anything, this contest experience has been eye opening. I am not God's gift to writing, as much as I would like to be, I still have a long way to go.
So...draft number five, coming up. ::::sigh::::.