Fellow writers! Worried your opening lines are going to make your reader feel like this?
Or worse yet, like this?
When it comes to hooking an agent or editor, the stakes are even higher. At a recent SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference Stacey Barney (Senior Editor at Penguin/Putnam) said she knows on the first page if she’s going to sign a writer. The very first page!
With all this pressure to craft the perfect opening, how do you know if you’ve hit the mark?
We’re here to help.
As part of our ongoing mission to support writers, we’re thrilled to announce 8 on Eight––a monthly contest that provides one lucky kidlit writer with feedback from at least 8 of The Winged Pen’s contributors on the writer’s opening eight lines! Read on to learn more about how the whole thing is going to work, and be sure to subscribe to our blog to make sure you don’t miss an entry deadline (our first contest will be held April 1st).
Q: How do I enter?
A: We’ll post a contest announcement on our blog on the last day of every month. To enter the contest, all you need to do is comment on the post. At 8pm (EST) on the first day of each month, one winner will be randomly drawn from the Triwizard Cup. The winner will be notified and given 24 hours to submit his or her opening eight lines (PB, MG, or YA). On the eighth of the month, the winner’s eight lines, along with the title and genre of the work, will be posted to our blog with feedback from at least 8 of our members.
Q: Should my comment include my first eight lines?
A: No. But do include your Twitter handle (if you have one) and be sure to provide us with your current email address.
Q: How will I know if I’m a winner?
A: We’ll email you with instructions on how to submit your material. And if you include a Twitter handle, we’ll announce there, too.
Q: I’m a winner! But I have several works in progress. Which one do I send?
A: That’s up to you––we’re happy to see PB, MG, or YA material.
Q: Do I have to submit my opening eight lines, or can I submit any eight lines?
A: You must submit your opening eight lines (yes, even if it’s a prologue).
Q: Am I assigning you any rights to my work?
A: Your work remains your own. We claim no rights to any portion of the writing, but in entering, you acknowledge our right to post your opening eight lines on our blog.
Q: Will I receive any other feedback?
A: The blog post will include feedback from at least 8 of our members. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and suggestions (in a respectful, supportive manner) in the comments section of the blog post.
Q: Does my work have to be posted to the blog if I win?
A: Yes. As writers, we learn as much from studying other writers’ works as we do getting feedback on our own. In exchange for getting feedback from our group, we ask that you share what you learn by allowing other writers to study your entry.
Q: I got mixed feedback on my opening. Some members said they loved it, others thought it needed a lot of work. What do I do?
A: Writing is a subjective business. Our aim isn’t to tell you how to “fix” your writing. Our objective is to provide feedback from a group of dedicated writers, whose opinions on any given piece of writing may or may not agree. It’s up to you to determine what feedback best resonates with your vision for your work.
Q: If I win, does that mean I can’t enter ever again?
A: You may enter as often as you like, but you must submit material from a new WIP each time you win.
Q: I didn’t win.
A: Okay, so this isn’t really a question, but we’ve got an answer anyway. First, we’ll hold this contest every month except January. So you’ve still got plenty of chances! Second, although you might not have won, there’s still a tremendous amount to be learned by studying the winner’s material and learning from the feedback they received.
Best of luck!
A jack of all trades, JESSICA VITALIS worked for a private investigator, owned a modeling and talent agency, dabbled in television production and obtained her MBA at Columbia Business School before embracing her passion for middle grade literature. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she divides her time between chasing children and wrangling words. She also volunteers as a Pitch Wars mentor, with the We Need Diverse Books campaign, and eats copious amounts of chocolate. Her debut novel, NOTHING LIKE LENNON, is currently out on submission. She’s represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch and would love to connect on Twitter or at www.jessicavitalis.com.