STEEL PENNIES, my unpublished novel entry in The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mainstream Mystery/Suspense Unpublished Division, earned 123 points out of a total of 123 possible points for a perfect score from one of the judges. It takes guts for a judge to make so strong a statement about an unknown work. I benefited from Judge 09-40-MS9034j's positive remarks because the comments reinforce what I know to be my strengths.
Judge 07-23-MS9034j, who awarded me 119 points out of 123, indicated I use too many "extraneous" words, such as "it" and "that." I keep a list of words writers should avoid and those words are on my list, but somehow those two escaped my editing process. I'm going through the manuscript now on a search and destroy mission to eliminate them. My other scores were 107 and 86. I'm making corrections based on the comments from these judges. Bottom line: I'll have a better novel to enter in the next contest. Recommendation for writers: Enter the contests that give you feedback. You'll become a better writer.