Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Following Directions

If you haven't noticed, BookEnds Literary Agency is having a contest (open until tomorrow morning). This rules are simple: 100 words (or less depending on where your sentence ends) from a mystery book. Please note how simple these guidelines are.

100 words. My entry ended up being 99 (per MS Word - not including title). I'm lucky my first paragraph fit the 100 word requirement. If you look at the entries though, it seems like a few people decided to fudge. (Nerd and snot that I am, I checked the word counts by coping them and then pasting them into Word. And don't worry if you're a contestant - they're all deleted now.) Really folks, don't you think BookEnds is doing the same thing to see who's following the rules? It's not rocket science for christsakes.

Mystery. I'll say it slow for you in case you have trouble with big words. MYS-TER-Y. You know where something bad happens and someone has to figure out who did it. Not romance. Not thriller. Not paranormal. Mystery. It says right on the blog what they're looking for. Follow the rules. Again, not brain surgery. Simple stuff.

So, why is it so hard for people to follow simple rules? Are they really that thick? Or is it simply that they don't feel the rules apply to them? Maybe they're so awesome, they think they'll be able to skate by.

I've read about this kind of slippage on different agent sites when it comes to queries. Now while it may be true not every rule is set in stone. Some agents even say they'll let a few things slip if the writing is good enough, but when the guidelines are fairly simple, it would behoove the writer to follow them. At least I would think so, but then again, I'm pretty big on following the rules - especially when my career is depending on it.

Tell me, what do you think BookEnds should do the rule fudgers? Be kind, or be strict? Personally, I think they should be booted and if they screw up again, they can't submit to the rest of these new contests with BookEnds. But that's me. After all, I'm female and I was born in the year of the dog. ;o)

BTW, my entry is for the first in my JA Mystery series - Cut and Dried. Hop on over and, while rooting for me is probably considered rude, think happy thoughts for me to win.


Kristin B said...

Personally, I would probably disqualify any entry that went more than 10 words over the limit. But that's me, and I'm a rule-follower. If an agents says "first 10 pages, or the end of that chapter", and my first chapter is 9 pages, and second chapter is 7...I send the first chapter.

But I'm weird like that.

HollyD said...

I'm also in the contest. I think that the entries that don't follow the rules should be cut. No second chances.

WordVixen said...

They stated specifically that you should stop at the end of the sentence that ends before word 100. Rules are rules, and if you allow one word over limit, why not two? I say disqualify.

JenWriter said...

Good luck in the contest. I say any entries that don't follow the rules should be disqualified. I ran a contest this month, and I had a few entries not follow the rules. I don't want to be mean, but I disqualified them. Plenty of others went to the trouble of following the rules. It isn't quite fair to the ones who spent time and energy trying to do it right.