Well I made it to the second round of Noble Theme Contest. I think I'm all contested out for the year though. One thing contests have taught me is that judging is highly subjective. You might final three times in a row, then bomb in the very next contest. It takes a while to figure this out though and can be very confusing and disheartening. My advice? Don't pay attention to scores, or even placement. Pay attention to consistancy. What I mean by this is look for comments that are repeated about paricular parts of your story. If three judges say they have a problem believing your hero would say a certain thing...then you may want to consider reworking that part. If one judge says they love your heroine's name but the other four say they can't stand it..by all means, you should probably consider changing it. Now if you get two comments that totally contradict one another, then don't mess with it unless you have another person (either a contest judge or critique partner) point it out as an area of concern. Above all, it's your story, not theirs and if you don't have peace about what they're saying, it's probably best to leave it alone. But stay teachable. I think that's the main thing. Hope this helps. Oh, and by the way? The first five contests I entered? I came in DEAD LAST. Now I'm finaling consistantly just one year later.
Why? Because I looked for the diamonds in the rough with contests and critiques. My diamonds were things that got consistantly pointed out by two or more judges. I paid attention to those things and pretty much ignored the rest. . .until another score sheet arrived or another critique bobbed in my inbox citing the same concern. Those are the diamonds in the rough. The things you can use. I've been a contest judge...for published authors no less and let me tell you guys, it's HARD! Not something I take lightly. The thing I try to remember is for the most part, judges are out to help you and not discourage you. If it seems they're being tough, it's probably because they see something promising in your work. Don't let it make you want to curl up in a ball and quit. Put the entry away for a few weeks. Pray a lot. Cry over it. Stomp around the house. But don't quit. Don't ever quit.
The only reason the Isrealites didn't get to see the promise land was bc they stopped believing too soon. Don't give up. Good news might be just around the corner.
I also have a feeling someone's reading this who has had a secret desire to write but you doubt yourself. Many of the desires God gives us are for things we're destined to be or do. So come out of your cave and chase that Dream if you feel a nudge in your heart by God to do so. Don't worry about what others think. The only person's opinion who matters is God's. And we have a God who is also a giver of dreams. He delights in these things, guys. So whoever you are, stop hiding. No reason to be ashamed of who He's made you. This may not only apply to the calling of writing.