Sunday, October 16, 2005

Parents and contest judging

Captain's Log, Stardate 10.16.2005

My parents are visiting me this weekend, so things have been busy taking them to the places they especially like to eat and shop. They live in Hawai'i, and there are certain things hard to get there. Like Frankie, Johnny and Luigi Too! restaurant's linguini with clams in garlic cream sauce, and Rodney Strong reserve zinfandel.

I'm judging a contest right now. It's a great experience for me because I'm doing a lot of high-level structural analysis of the entries, which are the first couple chapters and a synopsis. I'm looking at character GMC and spiritual conflict; at each story's Inciting Incident, Climax and spiritual epiphany; at scene structure like Goal and Rise, at pacing and reading flow.

I am doing a lot of praying as I judge these entries because I want to judge both lovingly and honestly. In the contests I've entered, there was nothing more frustrating than low scores without explanation. If my manuscript wasn't up to par, I wanted to know why and how to fix it.

I've also heard verbatim the comments judges made on several friends' contest entries, and I'm appalled at how unprofessional and malicious some of them are. My friend is very sensitive now about not discouraging "Freshman" writers.

So I'm doing my best to explain every low score, but to also be encouraging in my comments. I'm spending lots of time on each entry so that I can be as thorough as I can, but not overwhelming if the writer is inexperienced.

I'm getting pretty insecure about this, because I don't want to come across as the bad guy if the other judge raves about their manuscript but I don't. I need to trust God in this. He has His hand over every entrant, over their reactions to my judging. Cheryl Wyatt also mentioned that if the entrant can't receive honest feedback, they're in the wrong business--a contest is not for stroking egos.

But I still hope the entrants understand I earnestly want to help them improve. I guess it would be abnormal if I didn't worry.

Diet: Don't talk to me. I was doing really well until my parents came. :) I had even lost a couple pounds. It'll be like starting over again, right? I'm doing much better at eating vegetables with my meals, and choosing less meat, more seafood and egg whites.


  1. i don't actually have a comment... just couldn't let a post go by without a comment...

  2. I agree 100% with Cheryl! Because if a writer can't take constructive feedback on a CONTEST, imagine how they'll melt with some rejections we all know come from editors/agents. OUCH! It's hard sometimes, I know, to balance the desire to help one improve with the wanting to point out the weakest areas they need some serious help in. SIGH. But hey, prayerful consideration is what rocks. Remember, IT'S ALL GOOD! :)