As many of you know, we are in the middle of judging the entries for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest. Like the marines, we are still looking for a few good men--oops, I should say, men or women--to judge the remaining entries.
For me, the experience of judging entries, has been both educational and illuminating.
When judging an entry I can easily look at the manuscript and see the strengths and weakness of the author's work. Why can't I see the same deficiencies in my own creations? I suspect that I am too close to the material. Errors in plot, change of point of view and providing too much telling instead of showing, might just as well be highlighted in neon in another author's manuscript. I am blind to similar mistakes of my own.
Recently, I came close to placing in the finals in a writing contest. I attribute that to more experience, patient critique partners and my experience as a judge of the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest. Following a checklist and dissecting a manuscript written by someone else has helped me to be able to look at my own writing more objectively.
If you are a Pro or Pan writer, and you haven't already volunteered to be a judge this year, give some thought to doing so now. Trust me, you will get more out of it than you give. Contact Carla Swafford at CarlaSwafford@charter.net for more details.
For those of you who have judged a contest, what was the best or most surprising thing you got out of doing it?