Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Contest Judging

I'm judging more contests in the next few months than I can count, but let me try: Golden Heart, Great Expectations, The Merritt, The Winter Rose, The Daphne...I know there are more but I haven't had my coffee yet.

Have you ever judged a contest? Have you ever entered a contest? If you answered yes to that last one, you should have also answered yes to that first one. Entering your work into a contest without judging is like trying to learn to ski without taking a lesson. Sure, you might do okay, but you'd go farther with the lesson.

Judging teaches you what to look for, what judges look for, what things work in a story and what don't. After you read the fifth block of passive phrasing in an entry, I guarantee you'll look twice for passive verbs in your own stuff.

Adverbs, POV switches, tense changes, comma errors, wordiness, lack of description, unrealistic dialogue, overuse of dialogue tags (he bandied, she cajolled, etc), no internals or not enough, dialogue without attribution, slow pacing - these are all recurring items that indicate a manuscript needs several more edits. And for some reason, they are so much easier to see in someone else's work than in your own. Until you've judged a few entries. Then they stand out like you wouldn't believe.

Judge. You won't regret it. If you're judging or decide to judge, post here and let me know. Not sure how to start? Try this yahoo group (I don't own it, I'm just a member but it's the best way to find out what contests need judges):

Click here to join ContestsJudges
Click to join ContestsJudges

Now go! Judge! Learn! Contribute! Eat chocolate! (Hey, you don't need me to tell you that but it doesn't hurt.)


  1. Kristen,

    I still haven't finished my GH entries, much less volunteer for anything else. :-)


  2. I am actually learning a lot from judging the Winter Rose. Thanks for giving me a little push:)

  3. I'm still working on my GH entries. I hope to finish them next week.

    I actually stopped judging for a while because I was so disappointed with the quality of the entires. It was becoming a chore to judge--especially since I take such a large amount of time to "coach". At least with the GH, if the entry is a chore to read, then I only have a number to score with--I don't have to take the time to teach.

  4. I guess I have never looked at it that way. lol I have entered contests but never really judged one. Unless its been voting for pictures lol