A while back I took a risk and entered my paranormal YA in the Reveal Your Inner Vixen contest, run by Maryland Romance Writers.
Why was it a risk?
Well, not because of anything that to do with the actual contest — which, by the way, is very professional, has a great scoresheet and now comes thoroughly recommended by me. *VBG*
No, it was a risk because the contest entry doesn’t require your first 5 pages, or your first chapter, or even 3 chapters. It requires a scene only, a scene depicting sensual tension between your hero and heroine. To quote from the contest rules: “The scene can be flirtation, a kiss, or a fully developed love scene, just as long as the reader can feel that tension!” And this year, they were adding a Young Adult category.
Young Adult and sensual tension? Hmmmm. There is this one particular scene that I really love in this paranormal YA manuscript that I have sitting round. But my hero isn’t even human: he’s a cyborg. He doesn’t have feelings or emotions, he doesn’t feel pain. So, did I write this scene well enough? Did I really get the sensual tension across to the reader, or am I just delusional? Is it even possible to write a sensual scene with a teenage cyborg who analyzes everything to death, speaks in overly formal tones and sounds like he’s got a poker up his ass?
Do I dare enter this? I wonder….
To further increase the “risk” factor, although the contest entry allowed for a scene of up to 20 pages with the addition of a 1-page set-up, I decided I would only enter a 5-page scene with a couple of paragraphs of set-up. And ironically, the contest co-ordinators did query that. “Was it only supposed to be 5 pages for the entry? Are we missing some of it?”
“Yes, it’s only 5 pages.” Gulp. Nail-biting. Headdesk. A heap of angsting and wondering whether I’ve done the right thing. I mean, why send only 5 freaking pages, when you can send 20? Why send in such a short scene when I could really go to town and showcase my writing with 4 times as many pages? Am I completely mad????
My only solace was that when I re-read the scene I entered, I truly believed it was still a really really good piece of writing. My stomach still did that little lurch-thing when I read it. I could still imagine myself being Caro, slipping into her skin and being her — and granted, the scene is written from her POV. But I could also be Jay, who’s struggling to cope with what he is and how profoundly he’s being changed by his interactions with Caro.
Bottom line? It was a damned powerful scene and it was only 5 pages long and I decided I was glad I entered it. So take that! little inner demon crouched on my shoulder and whispering to me that I’d screwed up big-time!
I’ve just been informed this little 5-page scene from Freaks Of Greenfield High has finalled in the Young Adult category of the Reveal Your Inner Vixen contest.
Bottom line? I took a risk and it paid off. When you’re a writer, sometimes you have to take risks. Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself.
So, what are you waiting for?