Last week I judged five entries in The Passionate Pen Contest.
This week I am judging 200+ poems, short non-fiction, and short stories for our local writing group, Jackpine Savages. On Sunday, the five judges will meet in a marathon session and decide which submissions will be published in our annual 'Talking Stick' publication.
Judging is volunteer work I am happy to do for selfish reasons.
I entered two contests five years ago, hoping I was a diamond-in-the-rough. Depressing scores dunked me into vats of cold water. I realized how much I had to learn about the craft of storytelling. I immersed myself in local classes and on-line workshops. I studied novels and writing books.
Then I volunteered to judge contests. I wanted to assess the caliber of current competition, gauge what was 'in' in story lines, and learn from rising stars.
After multiple contests, I can say with certainly that I read and re-read each entry hoping to be dazzled. Most of the time I am not. The plots are usually great. The characters well developed. It is the execution that is weak. The errors are the kind I have made--and I am working hard to keep from making now.
Marie Force is a judge for the BMW of contests: the Golden Heart. She has a list of ten craft errors she sees most often. She is willing to share it if you contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let her know you are "calling" from this blog post.