Judging a Story Competition

Sadly, my judging days are over – for now. In a two week stint I helped judge the Yarra Council Story Competition. It was lovely hanging out with some other writers. Writing is such a hermit-like activity that was fantastic to see other human beings for once. We ate watermelon on plastic plates and discussed criteria and how to read the stories. My friend Megan, wrote about the behind the scenes to our judging process (I helped contribute to the post if you have a squizz).

It was weird acting like an English teacher with a pen and marking through the stories. But it was really enjoyable. Even now my mind reminds me of little sentences, poetic gems that we read in the stories.

Here is a short list of things I have learnt, not just as a judge but also as a short story writer:

  • Criteria for short story competitions are usually Originality, Structure, Use of Grammar, Response to the Theme.
  •  If there is more than one judge there will be some conflict, of some sort. What one judge believes is excellent may not be another judge’s cup of earl grey tea.
  • Judges often have to read through a great deal of stories. You want your story to stand out and not be too long, or heavy in description.
  • If you do something new, beyond the world of cliches, you will often be rewarded.
  • Just trying is sometimes the best incentive to enter a competition.
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