The first round of New Voices is fast coming to a close, the rosebombers are out in their multitudes and the comments are coming thick and fast. I personally believe the standard of entry this year is far higher than last year and, although there are a few rather 'rusty' entries, there are also some genuine gems. I do not envy the judges trying to whittle it down to a top 20 - the competition is wide open.
One thing that has really struck me this year is the range of comments. There are the people who read everything and say a variation of 'fantastic chapter, good luck' no matter how good or not-so-good the chapter may be. Then there are the people who write really gentle and well thought out critiques. And then there are the nitpickers who are determined to see a flaw in everything they read. A personal bugbear of mine, for example, is Point of View (POV). I personally see no problem in switching POVs on a semi frequent basis. Of course it would be a nightmare if it changed in every other sentence, but provided the changes are necessary and well executed, what is the problem? For example, one commentator who has made it clear in every comment she's made that she dislikes POV changes, said of mine that she had trouble with a couple of POV switches in the middle of my chapter so in the end she "gave up and just read it. And enjoyed it!" But before she could just enjoy it she had to turn her blinkers off first.
I genuinely believe that you should approach stories with an open mind. Turn the blinkers off, forget preconceived notions and let the story take you on a journey. If, by the end of the first chapter, you want to hurl the book/kindle/laptop into the nearest quarry for whatever reason then the author has a problem. If, however, you get to the end of the chapter and find yourself emotionally invested and desperate for the next installment then the author has done her (or his) job.
Good luck to everyone who has entered xxx