Thursday Thirteen--contest drinking game

I was going to do something like a suspense romance drinking game but then realized that lately most of my reading has been contest entries. LOTS of them.
A list about my list:
a. I probably do some of these things, too. So do a lot of published writers. Some of these will take me out of a story, others I barely notice.
b. None of these is based on your manuscript. It's based on yours and about 7 others. I've seen all of these.. . . errors? habits? in multiple manuscripts. Otherwise, I'd be guilty of an indiscretion which would get me kicked off every contest loop, ever. hmmm
c. Enter my other sort of contest--the one where you might get money, not give it.

The Romance Manuscript Contest Judge's Drinking Game

1. We get a description of the heroine as she looks in the mirror. 3 gulps

2. Someone sneers, smirks, laughs or scowls words, as in "Look at me," he smirked. 1 largish sip

3. The heroine, to display her independent or feisty nature, tosses her hair. 1 sip in a historical, 2 in a contemporary.

4. The heroine, to display her independent or feisty nature, raises her chin. 2 sips any genre.

5. The chin is pert, rounded or (yes, Cary Grant.) dimpled. 4 sips.

6. To bring us back to the moment after some backstory, character shrugs at the end of a thought. 2 sips.

7. For a first-time entry into any contest ever, there is a backstory dump in the first three or four pages that takes us out of the present moment and tells us all about the past. 1 sip

8 For a second or maybe third-time contest entry (numbers 7-8 are guesses on my part, okay? Right?) there is a backstory dump after the first three or four pages. 4 sips

9. The entry opens with weather. If it's a historical, the weather is bad and they're on a terrible road in a badly-sprung carriage. (copyright Linda, but hey, I've seen it too) half a mug or martini glass, depending. 3 sips for the historical.

10. The hero says something horribly unpleasant, mean, sexist and/or accusatory to the heroine 3 sips

11. She either waaaay over-reacts 4 sips
or doesn't seem to notice it was a jerky thing to say 1 full glass.

12. He is, in fact, a jerk. Likely this is to show he is alpha . . . or maybe the writer has a horrible life and men treat her badly? 1 glass for 15 page entries, 2 glasses if the entry is 30 pages long, a full cardboard wine dispenser of it's a published book contest and you feel you ought to read the whole entry.

13. The heroine, to display her independent or feisty nature, stamps her foot. If it's historical, she must be wearing a thin dancing slipper. 2 sips.

13a. The heroine, to display her independent or feisty nature, stamps her feet, flings her hair and raises her chin. 1 glass.
The spoiled beautiful bitch (former or would be lover of hero) nemesis of the heroine does this. 1 top shelf mixed drink, your choice.

I left out plenty of others like overuse of repetitive adverbs, characters who are introduced so the hero/heroine can have a revealing conversation and who are never shown again and don't appear in the synopsis.

My list is way too long, which means I need to say no to contests for a while. People pay good money to enter contests for advice, not unpleasant snark. No, you have to get PUBLISHED to get that kind of fun.

Doctors are just as scary as the rest of us.


  1. I request one addition:

    The monosyllabic, grim, enormous, scarred, battle-traumatized hero with a nickname that contains the word "Devil" or "Demon" arrives at the heroine's castle with a thousand blood-thirsty troops behind him ready to siege it. The moment the heroine steps out and tosses her fiery head, Hardass Hero turns into Quivering Bunny Rabbit Boy, who agrees to marry her and find the more evil villain who is stalking her/killed her father/forced a betrothal on her. Hero also willingly agrees not consummate the marriage until heroine is ready, which will be on page 463 -- 1 bottle.

  2. I enter contests because I can win books of authors that I have yet to read. I have been introduced to alot of good ones and seek out their books now

  3. Lynn, you rock

    Great reason, joye. I hope you enter mine..

  4. Joye,
    And I should say that the kind of contest I was talking about in this snarky entry are for writers who want critiques and/or want to get their work in front of the final judge who's usually an editor.

    Those contests are usually run by writers groups as a fundraiser, so the entrant pays about $25 to have their work judged.

  5. < rant > I don't know if it's the influence of erotica or just inexperienced authors, but I've been reading contest entries with really inappropriately early sexual reactions. Like lighting magnesium strips. Poof! Woman's holding a gun on a man or man's stranded in the desert or whatever...they suddenly he's hard and she's panting. Ick. Normal people don't DO that. Dude, come down from the desperate situation and THEN realize he's hot or she's wicked fine. It's almost like these authors are trying to do too much with the opening chapters, showing instant attraction and forcing it without much pacing or subtlety. < /rant >

  6. ouch. that's hot, kate!


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