I’ve judged several writing contests over the years, but I judged an entry recently that was so poorly written I started making a list. It looked like this:
–too much telling – as in pages and pages of being in a character’s head without any action and they’re thinking about their backstory.
–missing words in sentences so they don’t make sense.
–Missing punctuation – lots of it. Almost no commas at all to the point, it got ridiculous and hard to read.
–Wrong tenses used together.
–clichéd physical reactions
–Entire phrases repeated – and not for effect.
–Scenes where a character rehashes a previous scene (in which they weren’t the POV person). This is done in great detail while thinking. Very slow and repetitious, since I’d just read the original scene.
–tons of ‘ly’ words, at times so many on a page they began to pop out in the read – lazy, lazy writing.
From the synopsis, I thought the story premise had possibilities and showed a good sense of structure. That had me wondering if it was a spoof. You know, one of those ringers thrown in with just about everything done wrong just to see what kind of score it would get. To see if the judges are paying attention.
I know everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s possible the author had a really good grasp on story structure, but not the mechanics of writing. Maybe. I’d hate to think that someone would actually go to such lengths to take up a spot in the contest and waste the judges’ time like that.
On the flip side, I had some exceptional entries in my packet too. So much so that I hated for them to end. I was engaged in the story and invested in the characters. That made the judging process worth the time and effort.
I can’t wait to see if some of the entries I judged will final or win.