Monday, July 7, 2014

Scoring your WIP

I have scored six unpublished paranormal entries in the Pages of the Heart contest and two in the unpublished contemporary category. Four more contemporaries to go and I will be available as a backup judge.

Scoring is challenging. First I read like a critique partner, making suggestions. Then I read again to see if, or how, my first read-through impression changed.

Here are the criteria. How would you score your WIP?



1. Opening/hook – 5                                                                                    SCORE:

·       Did the opening draw you in?
·       Did it make you want to read more?

2. Setting – 10                                                                                                 SCORE:

·       Is the world building interesting and appropriately paced?
·       Is the location/setting clearly established within the first chapter?
·       Does it fit the time period?

3. Characters - 20                                                                                                 SCORE:

·       Are the characters likeable and sympathetic? If not, could they be redeemed?
·       Are they believable? 
·       Are they unique and multi-dimensional?
·       Are their actions and reactions realistic and consistent throughout the scene?
·       If the hero and heroine have both been introduced at this point in the story, is there obvious and realistic “chemistry” between them?
4. Secondary characters - 5  (if no secondary characters, use 25 points to score the main characters)                                                                                                                         SCORE:

·       Do the supporting characters have distinct personalities?
·       Do they seem important to the story?
5. Dialogue - 15                                                                                                 SCORE:

·       Is there a good balance between narrative, dialogue, and introspection?
·       Does dialogue seem natural or stilted?
·       Is each character’s voice distinct and consistent?
·       Is the dialogue tagging easy to follow?
·       Does the dialogue move the story forward?

6. Conflict/Plot - 10                                                                                                 SCORE:

·       Can you detect what drives the characters?
·       Is the plot feasible? (For example, not a simple misunderstanding or something that could be cleared up by h/h simply talking honestly to each other.)
·       Is the plot line/conflict interesting and complex enough to sustain the length of the book?
·       Were you hooked by the plot? Is it fresh and original?
·       Do both hero and heroine have clearly defined goals/problems?
·       Is a major conflict presented early in the story?
·       Is there focus on character growth and development?
·       If no romantic interest has been introduced in the entry, is there at least the potential for life change/character growth that will lead the character in new directions and ultimately to love?
7. Style/Voice - 20                                                                                                  SCORE:

·       Did the writer’s voice seem unique?
·       Was there balance between “showing” and “telling”?
·       Did the scene flow smoothly and at a nice pace?
·       Did the author have an enjoyable voice/writing style?
·       Did the story flow well, unimpeded by unimportant/unneeded information?
·       Is backstory/character background integrated into dialogue or action (vs. an information dump)?
·       Are switches in point of view easy to follow?
·       Does the author exhibit good use of all five senses?
·       Is the writing active?

STYLE SPECIAL ELEMENTS - Score only the section that corresponds to the entry category.

Historical Romance: 
·       Does the opening chapter include historical details that indicate the historical period/setting?
·       Is the language, behavior, setting and facts historically accurate?
·       Were research details and historical facts included in a smooth manner (vs. info dump)?

Contemporary Romance: 
·       Does the opening chapter create an expectation of an in-depth romantic story with a subplot?
·       Do the heroine and hero have an interesting meeting in the opening chapter?

Paranormal/Futuristic Romance: 
·       Does the opening chapter indicate the paranormal aspect to the story?
·       Is the world-building logical, well-explained, consistent, and integrated into the story without being an information dump?

Romantic Suspense/Mystery:
·       Does the opening chapter show the hero or heroine involved in a suspenseful/dangerous situation?
·       Is the suspense believable and sustained throughout the entry?

·       No sex, graphic violence, swearing or euphemisms for cuss words, gambling, smoking, or alcohol

Young Adult/New Adult:
·       Is the story theme and conflict something Young Adult (YA) or New Adult (NA) readers can identify with or care about?
·       Will YA or NA readers find the characters sympathetic and believable?
·       Do the behavior and emotions of the characters seem appropriate to their ages?
·       Is the language understandable to and reflective of that of YA or NA?
·       Do you think this story “works” for YA or NA readers?

 8. Mechanics - 5                                                                                                 SCORE:

·       Is POV clear at all times?
·       Any major grammar/punctuation questions or issues?

9. General Feelings  - 10                                                                                     SCORE:

·       Would you like to read more of this story?
·       Were the descriptions, imagery, worldbuilding, language and vocabulary powerful and unique?
·       Would you buy this book?
·       Does this entry make you want to read more books by this author?

Excellent: minimal revisions necessary, mostly copy-editing
Very Good: almost there, some revisions needed beyond copy-editing
Average: shows promise; has potential but needs some revisions
Below Average: needs revision in all areas (conflict/plot, characterization, story structure, scene execution, voice)


                                                                                  TOTAL SCORE:


Judge Identification NUMBER: 

Entry NUMBER: 

Entry TITLE: 

Directions: This score should be completely independent of all other scores. This award is separate from the regular contest scoring and in no way reflects adversely or advantageously to the general scoring system. For this award, first round judges will give 1.0 - 10.9 points per question with decimals allowed (76.3 points possible per judge).

Is the hero multi-dimensional?                                                                             SCORE:

Unselfish and caring, or does his character hint at that trait?                               SCORE:

Sexy/beddable?                                                                                                   SCORE:

Interesting?                                                                                                          SCORE:

Responsible and strong?                                                                                      SCORE:

Daring and capable?                                                                                            SCORE:

Does he demonstrate worthiness even if he is committing a crime or working against the heroine at the story outset?

                                                                              TOTAL SCORE:  



  1. This is great check-list. Thanks, Ana!

  2. Really like these lists, Ana. Thanks!

  3. What a great reference page. Thanks!I have a copy of our chapter's scoring sheet for our contest too, and I like to try to do an objective run-through of my own mss. It isn't always easy to be objective about your own work, though.

    When I judge I do a couple of reads, too. I do a first read through to get an overall impression and fill out the score sheet. Then I go back and make notes and suggestions.