These 6 tips may help you win lunch with ‘Mudbound’ author

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By Ben Beagle, bbeagle@batavianews.com The Daily News Online

The deadline for the Tale for Three Counties writing contest is just days away.

The contest, part of the “A Tale for Three Counties” community reader projects give winning writers a chance to have lunch with author Hillary Jordan to talk about her book “Mudbound.”

This year’s contest is asking readers to consider two questions: How did it make you feel to have six different narrators tell the story, or which character did you find the most likeable and why?

If you’re struggling to compose your thoughts into the 150-word limit, here are six tips that may help your write a winning entry:

• Keep your thoughts focused on the question you have chosen. The contest was changed last year, giving readers the option to answer one of two questions. This was intended to help writers focus their thoughts on a single topic.

• Watch the word limit. The change in contest format was also designed to help writers keep their entries close to the 150-word limit. The limit makes it challenging, but a few words more than 150 won’t disqualify the writer. However, if you’re submitting an entry that is a page and a half long it is clearly beyond the 150-word limit and the entry would likely not be considered.

• Read it over. Before submitting your entry, give it a final read. While the entries are not strictly graded like your old English teacher — we dn’t want this to feel like homework — spelling and grammer do count. It’s important that your thoughts and arguments be clear to the judges. So be careful to avoid run-on sentences that take up three lines, and make entries hard to read. That’s why it’s also important to make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. Misspelled words or a misplaced comma can change the meaning of what you’ve written.

• Watch the details. In an increasingly competitive contest, seemingly little things like avoiding run-on sentences and correct spelling can be the difference between a writer being selected for a spot at the lunch table or being passed over for another good entry.

• Check your memory. It’s also important, when referencing events in the book, that you be accurate. If you aren’t sure or don’t remember how something happened, double check. Errors in recalling the story bring down even the best written entry.

• Make it relevant. If you’ve written 150 words and haven’t mentioned the book, judges may wonder if you’ve actually read the book.

Entries will be reviewed by members of the Tale for Three Counties Council, which organizes the community reading project. Up to six winners of the writing contest will be chosen and invited to a lunch discussion with author Hillary Jordan on March 11.

Entries are due at The Daily News on Feb. 18. Remember, there will no mail delivery Monday due to the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday so you won’t be able to slip a late entry through during the weekend.

Getting involved in Tale is as simple as picking up the book. Copies of “Mudbound” are available for loan and purchase at libraries and bookstores in the three counties.

Book discussions are scheduled through March 9. Jordan visits for talks and booksignings March 10 to 12 in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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