Thursday, February 17, 2011

From being judged to being a judge

About a year ago, I sent my manuscript, HIGHLAND DREAMS, into a writing contest. I had to send the first 25 pages and a 5 page synopsis. I was soooo nervous. I had my CP's who had read through the story, but now I was about to send my 'baby' out to strangers to read and critique it. What would they say? Would they like it? Would they write me back and tell me to not quit my day job? Question after question raced through my mind and I wore a path in front of my computer desk from pacing back and forth. (BTW, in Nov. I sent my manuscript to another contest and I find out March 1st, if I finalled. Wish me luck.)

When I received my feedback, I was scared to open the documents. But, I did. There were three judges. Out of 300 points, one judge gave me a 205, one gave me a 195, and one gave me 85. While I am glad that two of the judges gave me a High Score and liked my book, it was the judge with the lowest score that gave me the most helpful feedback. The information she gave me was very useful and to now see the differences between the judges, I can tell that the one who gave me the 85, was the professional.

Yep, not all judges are editors or agents. Some judges are non published writers like me. Which is okay. They are a part of the market too. They read books, they write books, and they know what it is like to out your heart and soul into something. All of the judges wanted me to succeed and I know that all comments were made with the best of intentions.

I have taken some writing classes and I am learning a lot about writing description, passive and non-passive words, and dangling participles. Also, being a member of a fabulous critique group had helped me to look at the book in a different light. To be able to read through and see if there are any discrepancies, to help use better action verbs, and to be able to talk about how to make a scene work better.

I have been asked to be a judge in a writing contest for the Time Travel, Paranormal genre, and I have to say I am very excited to do so. I am going to take what I learned from being judged, taking writing classes, and my critique group, and try to be the best judge I can be. I want to be fair, honest, and still be polite. I want to judge the way I want to be judged.

Writing is dear to me. Besides having a family and a wonderful husband, (which I have), the only other thing I want is to become a writer. And I am. I should have worded that differently because I have written two books, but now I want to be published. And I know this is the same want and desire for the people I will be judging.

So, I send a cyber toast to the writers. For their faith and hope as they send their "babies" to be judged, and to me and the other two judges, that we may do well.



  1. Sarah, I've found that I learn a lot as a judge as well. It'll be a great experience for you! Good luck! It sounds like you have the right attitude. Whenever I judge, I try to phrase my comments in the way I'd like to hear them.

  2. Thank you Alexa. I am very excited to do this. A new step and I agree, I can't wait to see what else I can learn also.

  3. I agree with Alexa. If you phrase your crits in an overly harsh way, all you do is make the author angry and, if they're highly sensitive, maybe even make them reconsider a writing career. I know someone who literally dropped her career for years after a picky-picky crit. Thank goodness she took it up again and has produced some wonderful books. Can you imagine being the person who wasted all her years? UGH!

  4. That is horrible and I hope I never come across as someone like that. I am glad your friend decided to write again and is doing well with it.

    Thanks for posting Miriam.