Does my entry have to be a romance?
What qualifies as a romance?
The manuscript must be a romance as defined by the following:
- A central love story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
- An emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.
How will you judge without categories?
Our score sheet is designed to evaluate the tenets of quality writing and storytelling universal to all subgenres of romance. Please review the score sheet to see what our judges are evaluating.
My contemporary romance novel is not finished yet. How do I know what the final length will be?
When determining whether to enter the Contemporary Long or Contemporary Short categories, think about what kind of story you are telling.
Does your romance contain a number of subplots and secondary characters? Even though it contains a central romance, does it also touch upon other themes? Chances are it is going to be a longer book and more likely to fall into the single-title romance category when it is finished. If this describes your book, you should consider the Contemporary Long category.
On the flip side, is your novel tightly focused on the central romance without involving other subplots or secondary characters? The finished length of these types of books is often shorter and more likely to fall under the category romance umbrella. In this case, you should consider submitting it to the Contemporary Short category.
Is my YA novel eligible?
Yes, so long as it qualifies as a romance.
Why does the entry form ask me to specify subgenre(s) along with the category I’m entering?
Although they will not evaluate your entry specific to a subgenre, this information will be used to inform the judges (both preliminary and final) of the type of entry they are about to read.
Why is the contest limited to 60 entries?
A primary objective of the Chicago-North chapter is provide high-quality, useful feedback to the authors who enter our contest. Additionally, only Chicago-North members judge this contest in the preliminary phase. With the longer word count permitted this year, we need to give our judges enough time to read and evaluate the entries without becoming overwhelmed. We believe limiting the number of entries gives you a better contest experience.
We encourage early submission of manuscripts to ensure your entry is included in this year’s contest.
Ending at exactly 6,000 words puts me in the middle of a sentence or a scene. Can I add a few extra words?
No. Your entry will be evaluated for word count before being sent out for judging. Entries longer than 6,000 words will be disqualified.
Try to stop at a scene ending, a point of tension, a place with a natural lure, so the judge is left wanting more. If that means you your entry contains less than 6,000 words, that will not hurt you. But ending in the middle of a sentence might.
What font do I use?
Nothing fancy, just make sure it is easily readable without causing eye strain; 12 point Courier or Times works fine. Double-space your entry, please. The number of pages makes no difference. The words on the page are what matters.
Give the heat level of the entry (not the final manuscript), so the judges know in advance what they will experience.
When will I learn my results?
Preliminary results will be returned and finalists announced on or around March 10, 2018.
Winners will be announced at our Chicago Spring Fling conference dinner on April 21, 2018. We hope all our contest entrants will join us!