For the past several years, I’ve enjoyed entering the Killer Nashville Claymore contest. One reason I like it so much is because it’s for both published and unpublished writers. To me, that means a lot. I like competing with more experienced writers–especially when I place in the contest. A few years ago, I was a top ten finalist. Of course, I think I was at the bottom of the top ten, but still …
Last year, I posted comments and critique from my judges on a manuscript that didn’t place. If you missed it, you can read it here. Below is feedback on my 2013 entry. I’ve learned a lot from KN’s feedback. I’m seeing a lot of the same comments over and over again. For example, less dialogue and more narrative. That’s hard for me. I LOVE dialogue! Reading it and writing it. All their suggestions are worth looking at and I thought you might be interested. Killer Nashville is a great little conference–growing tremendously in reputation and attendance. Check it out.
Claymore Feedback Form
Title: __All in the Family_ ________
The judges liked that author introduced the crime right away in a dramatic way, but thought that the principal’s behavior was unrealistic and a bit confusing. Why wouldn’t he offer to watch her class?
The author did a good job describing the characters. The interactions with the relatives were very vivid. Yet, the writer may want to rethink making the main character, Teemy, stupid. One said, “Being a teacher, I believe she should be intelligent. A few of her lines seemed unnatural. Example of one of her lines that didn’t work: “How did everyone know?” (It was just yelled to the entire class.)”
The description of the house was realistic and intriguing. One judge said, “I felt like I wanted to visit the home.” However, it lacked a true description of the town and school.
Some of the voices sounded the same. Incidences that were developed through action were repeated in the dialogue, slowing the story down. Less dialogue and more narrative could strengthen the story and add more depth.
The judges thought this was an interesting premise and liked the direction of the story.
The suspense is strong. More tension could be added with more showing instead of telling. (Immerse the reader in the scene rather than just telling us what happened.)
The conflicts are realistic and carry throughout the story – well done.
It is fast paced, but it may need to slow down a bit. The author needs to take the time to tell the story. While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s often more effective to immerse the reader in a scene; even though it takes more words, the pacing can seem quicker.
This is a talented writer with an interesting story. Be careful of an over-reliance on clichés.
Grammar and Mechanics
There are no problems in this area. The judges only noticed a few missing commas.
One judge said, “I see a lot of potential with this story. With the help of an experienced editor, this could be a hit.”