Saturday, December 03, 2005


Not the audio kind. I’m talking about the cacophony in writing contest results.

I’d heard the stories before, just hadn’t been the victim of one. But then I guess experiencing all there is to writing is what this is about, eh?

So yesterday, I received a set of contest results back on the first chapter of Stealing Amy.

Want the good news first? Okay.

Judge #1 gave me 186 points out of 200. She wrote nice comments like: “Very fresh and fun; really enjoyable, fast paced!” and “these characters are so much fun to read and I love the way they talk to each other—very realistic.” Finally, “Very funny, fresh, and witty. I felt like I was reading a ‘beach book.’”

I wuv Judge #1.

Judge #2 was less enamored of my work. She gave me 162 out of 200. Although she termed the characters quirky and fun, she wasn’t sure if the story supported genuine character growth, or if the book would turn out to be a print version of (shudder) the Keystone Kops. And whereas Judge #1 thought it was a “fast read,” this one said: “the story is slow moving and takes a while to develop; needs tightening.”

Hm. Fast read? Or, slow moving. Take your pick between Judge #1 and Judge #2. (Personally, I believe Judge #1 has more credibility ha ha.)

Now let’s move to Judge #3 for the bad news. Ready? Got your thick skin on?

Judge #3 gave me 118 points out of 200. Yikes! Referring to the grid provided, the lowest score listed is 137! Okay, deep breaths. The way it works is that your lowest score is dropped and the remaining two are averaged. Assuming Judge #3 is just one of those people who doesn’t give high scores, maybe all of the entries she judged have been dropped from the list…? (One can hope.) I mean, geesh. Could she think I suck that much? Well, maybe.

But….but….let’s take one example. Judges are supposed to rate on a scale of 1 to 5:

5 = Outstanding
4 = Very good; just needs minor polishing
3 = Good; nice work but could be improved
2 = Fair; needs development; rework suggested
1 = Problematic; substantial revision recommended

Okay, so get this: in the Style category, under the question: Is the author’s voice engaging and readable?

Judges 1 and 2 gave me a perfect 5. Yippee!
Judge 3 gave me……a pathetic TWO!!!!!

In fact, in the Style category as a whole (6 areas to rate) judges 1 and 2 gave me all 5’s—for a total of 30 points while Judge #3 gave me 18.

Can you spell s-u-b-j-e-c-t-i-v-e??

Worse, Judge #3 didn’t write ONE comment. Not ONE. In my humble opinion, that’s not right. That’s not what you pay money to a contest for.

Oh, well. Live and learn. At least, the other two judges provided constructive feedback and I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

And this experience just confirms what I already knew. That to reach the finals, you need good writing and luck—luck that the judges assigned to your work happen to be high scorers and like your "voice."


John said...

At least you are trying. Which is worth more than 118.

MaryF said...

Randy, ugh. I know they dropped that lowest score, but you did pay your fee for feedback. I think you need to alert the contest coordinator to this. At the very least, they won't use that judge again.

randy said...

At least this time I got my scores back! I entered the Fire and Ice contest this year (same manuscript) and never got anything back. Contacted the contest coordinator who forwarded my email to the person in charge of ST, and I never got a reply. Guess I could have been more agressive about it, but I gave up.

Brooke said...

Well, I'm with you...especially when a judge give a low rating, an explanation is definitely in order. I would be incredibly easy to just go thru and mark a number between 1 and 5 and move on to the next entry. I tend to agree with Mary; you should contact the Contest Coordinator and let her know that no comments were given.

Oh well! Judge #3 is a dork anyway...