Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Contests Part Two--Judging

I recently a  had conversation about what writing contest judges ought and ought not consider when assigning  scores. It made me curious about how other folks judge both contests, but also the books they read for fun.

I generally don't focus on grammar or punctuation when scoring, but on the story. Of course, if there are many errors, that will get in the way of the story. It now occurs to me that pehaps many people don't approach judging the same way and do score down for format, typos and chioce of font.

My thought was that if your entry is perfectly formatted and your punctuation and grammar are perfect, then your story will flow more smoothly and your scores will be higher than the imperfect entry--unless, that is, your storytelling skills are weaker. In that case, no amount of perfect punctuation is going to save you. 

What do you guys think? Have you ever judged a contest entry? How do you approach it? Do you have a personal checklist of things you look for, or do you just sink in and let the story sweep you away--if it can?


  1. Hi Merissa!
    I've never judged a contest, but I have performed many critiques for other writers. My pet peeves are passive writing and flowing descriptions. I correct punctuation errors when I see them, but they are not my focus.

  2. I don't judge contests but I grade stories written by 11 year old. I teach using flowing descriptions, dialogue tags, adjectives of all types and imagery. Shortly before I cut them out of my work!

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  4. Lol! I guess we have to learn to do them before we can learn to do without them!

    Elaine, I'll bet those 11 year olds have some great stories to tell, even if their technique is a little unpracticed! Sounds like a really fun job.