On writing

The X-Factor

I’ve been having fun this year entering the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) competitions.

So far, I have entered Ripping Start and Selling Synopsis. While it would be nice to win, that’s not my primary goal.

I want perfect x-factor scores.

What is the x-factor?

The x-factor for the Ripping Start, which is for the first 1,500 words of your manuscript, is scored thus:

To mark this item, ignore the errors, and look for the potential. Did this entry have something special, either in plot, style or characterisation?

How do you rate the potential of this entry? Please mark out of 10.
10 = Brilliant; 1 = needs extensive work (Max. 10 marks)

The x-factor for the Selling Synopis is scored thus:

Submission to an editor is only one step on the road to publication. An editor may require corrections or rewrites, but there are qualities that will make them consider putting time into and working with a writer to bring them to publication. Publishers may reject a manuscript, but will also ask the writer to try again. To mark this item, ignore the errors, and look for the potential.

Give a score from 1 to 10, where 1 = ‘very poor’ and 10 = ‘if I were an editor, I’d want to see this novel’.

So the x-factor is that indefinable something that makes someone read the story, no matter how badly written it is, no matter whether they like it or not.

How we’re tracking so far

The results for Ripping Start came back early October. My x-factor scores garnered two nines and a five, which was respectable, but obviously can be improved on.

You can’t appeal to all of the people all of the time, and it’s obvious from the scores above that my Ripping Start entry worked well for two of the¬†judges, but failed¬†to engage the last judge at all.

That’s real life, but you know your book is a winner when everyone who reads it finds a spark of something they think works.

I don’t know how many people got perfect x-factor scores in this contest, but at least three of them did, because three writers got perfect scores. That means three different judges read their words and each gave them an x-factor of ten.

Now that’s something to aspire to.

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