Reflections on an Honorable Mention

If you follow me at all on social media, you probably already know that I received the results from my Quarter 1 Writers of the Future entry on April 23. I got an honorable mention!

So what does that mean?

An HM is a step up from a rejection, and I’ll get a nice certificate in the mail. Honorable mentions, and silver honorable mentions, are the judges’ way of saying, “This was pretty good, but you’re not quite there yet. Try again next time.” It is okay to revise and resubmit rejected stories or those that place in either honorable mention category.

Semi-finalists and finalists get a critique. Those authors can’t re-submit their stories to the contest because they have an unfair advantage, but they can try other markets. Some finalists do get published in the anthology, though.

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the process

This was my second WotF entry. I liked the story a lot, but it did have some problems. I’ve learned a lot about the contest and what the judges like through forum posts, the WotF online workshop, and the Super Writers Bundle courses. Unfortunately, I did all that after I wrote and submitted this story. Let’s learn from my mistakes.

I can’t go into great detail right now because I might decide to revise and resubmit someday, and I’d be disqualified if any of the judges were able to link the story with my blog. I can still give you some general ideas, though.

It was too long

The rules allow stories up to 17,000 words, but shorter is better. Early readers thought my 10,000 word story was a novel at first. I had too many characters and scenes.

I should have gone with a different ending

Some stories just aren’t meant to have a happily ever after. There was too much stacked against the protagonist, and the ending was convoluted. Additionally, because the story was so busy, the ending felt rushed and tacked on. I knew it was a problem before I submitted the story. I just couldn’t quite figure out why it was a problem until it was too late.

Beyond that, I don’t know

It’s possible my story was too similar to another entry, or something about it bothered the judges for personal or more subjective reasons. Those things happen all the time. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about that, though, so it’s not worth getting flustered over.

It wasn’t all bad

Somebody out there is probably wondering why I bothered submitting at all when I knew my story had problems. And the answer to that is something I say all the time–writing is subjective. Just because I think there’s a problem doesn’t mean the judges will. Rejection is a given in writing, and you can’t let a fear of getting rejected stop you from ever submitting anything. Or, to put it another way, you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take.

Even though my story had issues, it also had quite a few things going for it. I got some really good feedback, and I felt pretty confident about several of its major components. I know I had a great protagonist–several of my critiques compared her to Katniss Everdeen, and I consider that a massive compliment.

The world building was intriguing, and I got some interesting comments on that. The plot was decent except for the ending. It was too much for a short story, but the readers who critiqued it thought it was engaging.

All in all, I can’t complain about an honorable mention

I’m going to try to do better next time, of course, but I don’t feel bad about my results. I’m on the fence about whether to rework this story as a short or expand on it and turn it into a novella. Right now I lean more toward novella, because I think it will be a good promotional tie-in for my novel, but we all know I change my plans about as often as I change my underwear.

You probably didn’t need to know that.

Anyway. My Q2 story is in, and I don’t expect results back from that until June or so. I’m predicting another HM or SHM, but we’ll see. The story I’m writing for Q3 is more or less finished, but I need to toss one of the middle scenes and write something new. It just doesn’t take the story where it needs to go.

Did you enter the contest?

Feel free to share your results in the comments if you’d like! I’d love to know about your experience. I’d also love to know if you’re thinking about entering sometime in the future.

Next week is the first Wednesday in May, so I’ll see you then with another monthly progress update. You can subscribe for reminders if you’d like to know when new blog post publish.

18 replies on “Reflections on an Honorable Mention”

This sounds like an interesting and helpful contest. What are the rules in regards to a story linked to something that has been published, if the story itself has never been released?

It has a really good reputation. A lot of really well known authors have been judges at one point or another. I don’t know the answer to your question, unfortunately. There are rules about published authors competing, but I think they’re a little loose on some of those if you haven’t had a large number of sales. Joni Labaqui would be the one to ask about all of that, and her contact information is here.

It’s great that you got a honourable mention and you’ll be able to resubmit after making changes, if you decided to that is. It’s cool that such contests like this exist so you have the opportunity to learn and grow

Thank you! It’s a fun contest if you like writing sci-fi or fantasy. Even if you’re not interested in entering, they have some great resources for writers on their website.

Congrats on the honorable mention, still! And it’s always good to get learning points from any experience, even if they’re not exactly what you anticipated. It’s still very much an accomplishment to have been awarded that, well deserved!

Thank you! Persistence is key if you want to get anywhere as a writer. It isn’t always easy, but it’s something we all have to keep in mind.

That’s great you got an honorable mention & you were able to learn from this experience. It’s also nice that you got feedback so you know how to improve the story if you rework it or turn it into a novella!

It’s amazing that you for recognition for your work and have learnt form it. Congratulations on your mention, you must be proud! I hope that you’re able do take your experience and do even better next time! Em x

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