Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Judging Criteria:

A master's level teacher friend, one of the judges of this contest, and I discussed a rubic of guidelines for the judges. It basically provides a universal scale so the judges are all on the same page, and a total score can be assigned to each work.

While that is an excellent idea because it is inherently fair, I've decided to make this reflect the industry. When agents or publisher's acquisition editors read works, they don't score them. The work either delivers or it doesn't. Close only counts in horseshoes.

As the gatekeeper, I will screen out any entries that have not followed the guidelines posted yesterday. I am not expecting to disqualify any entries. However, the point of the guidelines, besides giving everyone some idea of what to do, is they are an exercise in submitting to agents. It is well known that one must follow to the letter any submission guidelines set by the agent.

So with that cold reality in mind, these are the areas the judges will consider:

Title: Does it fit, is it interesting, does it encourage the reader to keep reading.
Voice: Is it active or passive. Active is what we're after. Too much telling - not enough showing.
Pace: Does the pace fit the piece, does it change to fit the circumstances.
Sequence: Good flow of events from beginning to end. Logical.
Character: Interesting, believable, developed.
Dialogue: Accurate for the character, realistic.
Use of Literary Devices: Use any literary devices that fit. These are bonus points, and tie breakers.
Grammar: It goes without saying, do your best. It doesn't have to be letter perfect, but do make sure that you don't slop through and miss full stops (periods) or indenting paragraphs, subject/verb agreement, the basics.
Overall appeal: Was this an interesting read.

The judges are from France, England, and the USA. They are editors, writers, educators, beta readers, and proof readers. You do NOT need to Americanize your spelling. We're all cool with the 'z' being replaced with 's' and no full stops after titles, like Mr and Dr.

Judge's note: The element is either present or it isn't. Almost doesn't count. Please prepare a bio for me to post about you!


  1. These sound good. The only one I disagree with is passive voice. Yeah, usually not good but it shouldn't disqualify a story. On rare occasions passive voice fits the character or the subject matter. An example would be a period piece or a piece in the voice of a depressed person, or a very slow stodgy one. That kind of thing.

    What do you think?

  2. Good comment, Carolyn. Maybe I should say passive writing, rather than voice. Kathryn certainly has her wimpy moments...but though she is tentative, the writing isn't. That's what I meant.

    Welcome home from your trip. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  3. Thanks, Nadine. I look forward to reading the entries.

  4. Thanks for judging, Nick. And thanks for the post on MWC. I really appreciate it. Several entries came from it.

  5. No probs. I enjoyed reading the entries. Hope you received my email with the results.

  6. Opps! No, I didn't get it, can you resend it, please?

  7. Have just done so, Nadine. Let me know if it doesn't arrive this time and I'll try sending from a different email account.

  8. Nick, worked perfectly. I'm reading it now. Thanks.