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?