Monday, February 20, 2012


Okay, here goes: time for writing marathons, time for judging, time for crazy evaluations, and time for tears. Buckets and buckets of tears. And I’m not even submitting. Believe it or not, that’s the judge’s perspective.

Reading the work of someone else who is brave enough to put the love of their life into a competition. Author—a person who basically strips him or herself bare in order to win or simply get feedback for their work.

How does the judge suffer? That’s easy. No one wants to say no. No one, other than a sadist, looks at an author’s work with anything but compassion and a desire to help that writer improve their work—help them toward the road of publication. Are there judges who race through an entry and do a poor job? Yes, unfortunately all judges are as human as the writers. Fact of life. But do most of them? No. They take the responsibility humbly and with an open heart to do their best.

So, the buckets of tears come from the judges as well as the entrants. Having to turn down a fabulous storyline because it doesn’t fit the genre, grammar’s poor, punctuation needs work, or any other number of things preventing it from going forward.

What can authors do to improve their chances?
One: be sure you’re submitting in the correct genre.
Two: read your entry out loud to yourself to catch all the typos you missed on the computer
Three: run it past a crit partner, anyone but MOM
Four: Does the story hook the reader on the first two pages? Don’t wait for page 15 or 20, depending on the contest, to draw your reader in. If you have the judge by page 1, he or she will look much more favorably on the rest of the entry
Five: do a great synopsis. Let the judge know where you’re going.

This won’t guarantee you a slot at the Oscars—oops, I meant the ACFW or Other banquet, but it might give you a step up when it comes to what a judge is looking for. Good luck, be blessed, and don’t be shy. Even if you don’t make it this year, there’s always next year.


Andy Scheer said...

The first two pages? Linda, you're being charitable. How many bookstore browsers will turn the page if they don't find something intriguing on page one--preferably the first half of page one?

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the tips. I haven't entered contests in a while, but I've been reconsidering it lately.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Good encouragement, Linda. We often don't think about the judge's perspective. But the whole contest experience is worth it for the entrant in terms of getting a manuscript ready according-to-the-rules and seeing the feedback (if there is any).

Linda Glaz said...

Ooh, you're right, Andy, so right. But I would that a serious judge is going to give a writer the benefit of the doubt past 2 pages, but you are def right. A prospective reader gives you maybe a page, IF, they like the jacket blurb enough to even open.