Last month, I was elected President of my RWA Chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW). After a couple of years of very little income, it’s imperative that our annual Ignite the Flame contest do well this year.
The contest coordinator sent me the contest description for a listing to be placed in Romance Writers Report, a print magazine sent out by RWA to all members. The copy felt dated to me. In light of the organization’s efforts to update their image and embrace diversity, I decided to try my hand at a rewrite.
Contest description: Our contest is named Ignite the Flame for a reason. We want to lose ourselves in the one scene of your unpublished manuscript when your hero and heroine first meet (or reunite after a period of time) and experience that first spark of attraction, that irresistible heat drawing them together. So, kindle that fire—show us you first meeting, the surprise reunion, an awkward introduction, or the unforgettable moment of initial awareness. Thrill us with the promise of what is to come. We want to be there when they experience the first stirrings of attraction for one another. Tease us with a little flicker that is destined to become an inferno. The Ignite the Flame Contest is designed to help you polish that critical first meet scene so that it crackles with romantic energy! ***Note: This is not a first kiss or first sex scene contest!***
Contest description: We call our contest Ignite the Flame for a reason. We want to see the scene where your couple meets, whether it’s for the first time or a reunion after time apart—that unforgettable moment of initial awareness, that first spark of attraction. Whether your characters are ancient nobility or modern-day entrepreneurs, gay or straight, sports stars or high school students—or even not-quite-human—we want to see how their romance ignites. All characters are welcome!
Which of these contests would you be more likely to enter?
First off, congrats on being elected president! Yay you!
As for the contest lure, I like the second one better, but feel you could pull a few things from the first one, such as “thrill us with the promise of what is to come.” Also, “awkward introduction.”
So maybe…We call our contest Ignite the Flame for a reason. We want to see the scene where your couple meets, whether it’s for the first time or a reunion after time apart—that unforgettable moment of initial awareness, that first spark of attraction. Perhaps it’s an awkward introduction, a confrontation, or two souls finding each other once more. Whether your characters are ancient nobility or modern-day entrepreneurs, gay or straight, sports stars or high school students—or even not-quite-human—we want to see how their romance ignites and be thrilled by the promise of what is to come. All characters are welcome!
Good luck! I’m not sure if anything I’ve written would be a candidate, because it’s all very one-sided for my H&H. Not sure if that matters. If it does, it might be worth mentioning in your blurb.
Thanks for the feedback! The contest is judged primarily on how good a job the author does of setting up the romance arc the first time we see the couple together on the page.
Were I an unpublished author, I would prefer the first version because the second doesn’t specify if the contest is for published, unpublished or both kinds of author. Plus, I like the emphasize on the specific moment you’re looking to judge. I would think adding ‘all types of romance welcome’ would indicate that you welcome diversity.
Thanks for the input! The rest of the copy for the ad makes it clear it’s a contest for both published and unpublished. (I think. I’ll double-check!)
Congratulations on being elected President, and good luck with the contest, Jeanne!
If I were a potential contestant, I’d first want to know the benefits available to entrants. If those were tempting, *then* I’d check whether I had a suitable scene and whether it was a good match for the entry criteria. I’d make my initial decision based on high-calibre first round critiques, trained judges, published author judges, past successes, or great final round prizes.
Regarding the blurbs, I like the inclusivity of the second version, but I like that the first version claims it is “designed to help you polish that critical first meet scene…” That sounds to me like a good reason to enter.
The full copy includes a description of the judging and of the prizes–entry fee refunds for top three scorers, and a full manuscript copy edit for the winner, which is useful whether you’re planning to self-pub of cleaning up your ms. for submission.
What Jilly said. I think the first one is just too long. People want to know quickly what’s in it for them.
Congratulations, I think :-), on your presidency! I hope the contest does well for you, but I’ve been thinking for some time that the chapters need to figure out new ways to help writers and generate revenue other than contests. With so many authors going the indie route, there’s much less incentive to submit work in the hope that agents and editors will read it. I don’t know what that solution is, but it feels like chapter contests, like the Golden Heart, have to evolve somehow.
See my note to Jilly, above–we’re targeting both trad and indie authors with our top prize.
Congrats on your new position!
As for the contest blurb, I like both of them — that spark of first attraction is so very important in a story, and both make that clear (although I think the first makes it sound more attractive). As an afterthought, I really like the diversity that option two makes clear. But if the spark isn’t there, the diversity doesn’t really matter when it comes to fiction.
(-: I tend to assume contests are going to be open to diversity at very first thought. If your rules and regulations make it clear that there’s diversity, I think it’ll be fine.
If you’ve got any other selling points (“Ignite the Flame winners have gone on to write X, Y and Z.”), you might consider how you can weave those in. I’ll also want to know more about judges, but not in the blurb. (It should be in the second document I access, though.) And fees. (Again, not in the blurb.)
Second one, definitely! It broaches that inclusivity. As contest co-chair, I’ll work on a draft tonight as well and shoot it to you.
Got your notes–very helpful–thanks!