Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to make your contest entry sing!

Be very, very quiet….  There’s a contest entry sneaking around here, and as the mighty hunter, Elmer Fudd would say – "Darn, you rascally rabbit…."

Okay, I really don’t see myself as Elmer Fudd, but there is something to be said for hunting down a good story in the midst of the contest entries.

I was contest coordinator for the Gateway to the Best contest.  That year, I judged for every contest who asked for help.  Favors to call in later, which I capitalized on, believe me.

Another reason I support contests is because my Council Series, was bought off a contest entry. (Return of the Fae is book two in that series.)

So want to know what I look for as a judge?  Remember, this is just me, so your mileage may vary.

First, I read the score sheet.  Do I give points (or take away) for a great hook? A great first page?  Conflict, characterization, plot?  First and foremost, I follow the score sheet.

That should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of entries I give low points because they didn't review the sheet before they sent the entry.  I want to give everyone full points on one section, writing or mechanics.  If this isn't your first rodeo, (ahem, entry) you should have that piece polished to a Mr. Clean shine.

So, read your score sheets. One contest  asked if the section ended on a hook. Easy fix, even if you aren't planning on submitting the full with the storm tearing apart the farmhouse and Little Nell being swept away on her moped on page 30, for the sake of your judge, give me the hook!

Number one rule of contests – follow the score sheet.  That’s what the judge is tied to judge on, even if they think your story is the best.

Number two?  Give me a great story.  I've read so many entries that I so hope will be published soon, because I’m still wondering what happened to Little Nell. 

And isn't that what we all want from our readers?  To leave them wanting more?

Tell me your contest stories.  And if you haven’t judged a contest lately, what are you waiting for? 



The Stiletto Gang said...

I've judged lots of contests, most of the contestants had no idea what the score sheet looked like. For me it's kind of a gut feeling as to whether the story works or not, does the author understand the mechanics of telling a story. The last one I judged was for easy, two books were top notch, both deserved to win. Someone else will have to pick the winner, thank goodness.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Hi Stiletto Gang!

When I was entering contests, I used to study the contest page, probably for way too long. It's amazing how much information they give you.

Glad you had great reads. I love it when that happens.

Morgan Mandel said...

Makes sense to give the judges what they want! Also, who can resist a good story!

Morgan Mandel