What next, you winner?

It’s an unfortunate truth—if there are writing contests, there will be people who do not win them and most of the time those people will be you and me.

The American Christian Fiction Writer’s First Impressions contest recently announced 2012 winners—out of almost 600 entries, five people won (one in each genre category). The organization’s Genesis contest had 438 entries this year and will announce nine winners in September.

So know going into it that, when it comes to writing contests, the odds are against you winning. Does that mean you shouldn’t enter? Not at all! But what it does mean is you need to enter contests for the right reason—getting that invaluable feedback. If you win, great! In fact, stupendous! But if you don’t, what can you learn from your contest scores?

If you were one of the 595 or so who didn’t win First Impressions—or if you find yourself among the 429 who don’t win in the Genesis contest—give yourself a half hour to mourn, but remember, putting your work out there for review in any contest is brave.

Here’s the truth: Even if you don’t win the certificate, you are not a loser. You still win!

Obedience pays off

It’s true. In a real sense, you win—regardless of what writing contest you enter. You took a critical step—you submitted your writing for review. You poured out the story God laid on your heart and invited experts to judge it. You were obedient.

But you also won because you will receive your judging score sheet with those invaluable comments from publishing professionals on the details of writing, such as Characterization, Plot, Conflict, Dialogue, Setting, Mechanics, and Overall Writing Quality.

If you apply the suggestions you receive to your manuscript, you could be a finalist—or even a winner (again)—next year.

Male winnner image courtesy of imagerymajestic; Female winner image courtesy David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.