Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Judging the Golden Heart

"Love is a friendship with erotic moments."
~Antonio Gala

I signed up to be a judge for the RWA Golden Heart contest again this year (it’s the one for unpublished writers), and my 5 partial manuscripts arrived yesterday.

Last year, I was a little disillusioned with the whole process, because of the 5 I read, the one I scored lowest, by far, ended up being a finalist. I still have no idea how that might have happened. Anyway, I thought it would be good of me to participate, so I volunteered for another go-round. This time, I’m reading ms. in the category “Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.” Should be interesting, right?

I’ve just skimmed the opening pages, but it looks as though 3 are pretty mainstream, one is a paranormal (cool, esp. since I never read that genre…good for a change), and one is…ahem…borderline erotica. I question a little what “romantic elements“ actually means, but we'll see...

Anyone else ever judge writing contests? Thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the experience?


Charity said...

Actually, the low score and still a finalist can happen quite easily since RWA uses standard deviation in calculating the scores. The year I made the finals, one of my fellow finalists had scores of: 9, 9, 9, 9, 2. The low score is dropped and an average of all five scores is used in its place. Uh, I think. Don’t quote me on that.

After a certain point, it’s subjective. One person’s melodrama is another person’s emotional read. One person scores a good, solid read a 7, for someone else, it’s a 5. For someone else, anything that doesn’t suck gets an 8. And so on.

I’ve judged the GH and other contests for going on three years now. It’s a crapshoot, for both judging and entering. I’ve had two near the top scores and one bottom of the barrel score from the same contest. I’ve judged manuscripts where I was the top or low scoring judge, and one or both of the other judges disagreed with me.

Writing is an art and a craft, but it’s not a science.

MaryF said...

I'm judging the same category and three are hen lit. I only got 4 entries and judged them already. One was a nine, for sure.