It’s been a lean year for writing plaudits. In the 12 months to the end of November only 6.2% of the stories I submitted were published, compared with 14.7% for 2016. To be fair, this doesn’t include the analysis piece I wrote for Writers’ Forum, and also I’m now submitting to magazines with lower acceptance rates. But despite all the quibbles, it’s glum-making.
So, I was encouraged to get the e-mail telling me I’d won the Plot of Gold Challenge with the outline of my work in progress, The Tears of Boabdil, which I mentioned in an earlier post. This contest run by two literary software companies, ProWritingAId and Beemgee, was open during October and November. Using the Beemgee outlining package, contestants developed characters, plot outlines, and synopses.
This was the first time I’d used Beemgee (short for Boy Meets Girl) and I was impressed, for two main reasons. Firstly, it connects character organically to plot, embodying the principle that, if you know what your characters want, you have a plot. Secondly, because it invites you to think about your expectations of audience response to your characters and how this might go wrong. I’ve been using the ProWritingAid editing package for several years now, and swear by it as an effortless way to check grammar, punctuation, and word-use.
“Ideas were unconventional and daring, narrative strong and complex, characters were sympathetic and compelling. Stunningly ambitious with great literary potential.”
The elevator pitch for my book was “When a policeman infiltrates a terrorist group, he embarks on a doomed taboo liaison with a beautiful quarry. He must choose to betray his love or his duty. This story, about politics and passion, tracks the magic and tragedy of a lie.” This isn’t a spoiler because I followed the principle of “if you have a secret, give it away right at the top”. We learn in Chapter 5 that he is an undercover police agent.
The judges said of my outline and that of CL Lynch with whom I shared the winning spot “Huge congratulations to both of these hugely talented authors. Their ideas were unconventional and daring. Their narratives were strong and complex. Their characters were sympathetic and compelling. One is superbly structured and instantly moving, the other stunningly ambitious with great literary potential.”
Winning boosted my flagging spirits. And I take home a lifetime licence for Beemgee and ProWritingAid. Congratulations to my co-winner, CL Lynch, and thanks to both companies.