Sunday, February 19, 2012

We're making our writing contest easy to judge. #writers #authors

This is the third part of a multi-part series devoted to our plans for a writing contest. To read this from the beginning or to see a full list of posts as they are posted, please refer to this page.

Caution: some of the following material is no longer up-to-date. Please refer to later parts in this series for more up-to-date information.

Since the submissions will be prescreened by me and Bec, weeding out those that don't meet a minimum standard of quality, we've designed the judging to be as easy as possible in order to encourage all to take part in this part of the process.

As a side note, it's our goal to have either a list or at least a description of what we will consider a minimum standard of quality posted on this site as part of the submission guidelines. In general, though, we encourage prospective contestants to submit material that won't require an extensive amount of rough editing. Perfection and a professional polish won't necessarily be required, though bringing a certain amount of polish may increase your chances of either winning a cash prize or being selected for publication.

As described previously, judges will read two stories at a time, choosing one to advance in the contest, which will automatically knock out the other. How they personally descide which one to choose will be up to the individual judge. Do they like one writinng style over the other? Does one story grab their attention more than the other? If they were only going to buy one, which one would it be? Or, do they want to take the time and keep a count of grammar and punctuation errors? Any line of reasoning is acceptable to us although personally I encourage judges to keep it simple to avoid frustration and migraine headaches.

In an effort to maximize the number of judges, we are allowing contestants to also act as judges. Consider it as a very simple peer review. Of course, a contestant will not read his or her own story. Instead, they will descide which one of their fellow contestants will advance and which will not. For this reason we encourage all to sign up as judges. The more we have the faster the process will go.

Since contestants will have a say as to which one will be knocked out, does that mean sabotage will be a possibility?

Although technically possible, we are going to take a few steps to minimize this unfortunate scenario. For starters, it shouldn't matter which story is chosen since all submissions will be prescreened for quality and theme. Teams of judges will not know each other to prevent two from slanting the vote. Also the authors will remain annoymous (hopefully to prevent the judges from recognizing a name of one of their author friends). The more judges and more submissions we have the easier this will be, and we hope the honor system will prevail. And lastly, all judges will be required to submit a brief comment with each vote so we know why they chose as they did. Although we will ask that this comment be specific, it need not be complex or long.

Remember: Being voted out will only push you to the back of the line. Bec and I are the final judges. We will decide who to do business with. You may lose out on a cash prize, but if we like your writing, have no fear.

If you have already filled out the form from the first post of this series and did not sign up to be a judge, you do not have to worry about signing up again. Emails will be sent out at a later date. A secondary sign up form will be used to officially sign up for the contest.

If you have not officially expressed interest in the project, you may do so here.

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