The 2012 Royal Ascot is Complete
Please look for the 2013 Royal Ascot early next year.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Observations of a Contest Judge

Following are some observations I have made over the number of contests I have judge, consistent errors that detract from otherwise excellent entries. These are also factors I take into consideration when editing my own work and critiquing the work of others.

1: Dangling participles. (Walking to the store, the car nearly ran me down. Walking is the Participle. With this structure, the car is the subject, so we have a walking car.)

2: A shocking misuse of commas.

3: Too much telling.

4: Not enough use of the five senses.

5: No sense of time or place through dialogue, description, or tone.

6: No sense of the main characters' goals or conflicts.

7: Forced conflicts—anger and distrust with no logical reason for either.

8: Heroine being physically attracted to the hero regardless of how nasty he is to her. (This may be realistic, unfortunately, and it's not emotionally healthy.)

9: Huge chunks of detailed descriptions without any purpose.

10: Too many point of view shifts in a single scene. (Even if you put in the space or ***, going back and forth every other paragraph is still head-hopping.)

11: Reaction occurring before action. (He jumped when she covered his eyes with her hands.)

12: A lack of hooks at the end of the scene.

13: This is especially important in The Royal Ascot: easily verifiable historical errors--British titles used incorrectly, hero or heroine the brother or sister of the other's dead spouse, anachronistic behavior.


  1. Thanks, Laurie Alice, for giving us your thoughts. All of these would make great subjects for discussion. I think I'll start off a discussion tomorrow on how to find the hero and heroine's goal and conflict.

  2. I find my biggest problem as a contest judge is in finding entries that are correct, score very well, but don't move or excite me. Another topic for a post?