Saturday, February 03, 2007

How NOT to Be a Contest Judge

“Don't mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, keep from irritation; if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified it is not criticism, learn from it.” - unknown

“Criticism should not be querulous and wasting, all knife and root-puller, but guiding, instructive, inspiring.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I made a mistake yesterday. Yes, I know: shocking. But it does happen now and then.

Before I mailed out my contest entry, I decided to go over some feedback I'd gotten last year on a similar entry (it was for the same book, but the beginning has changed quite a bit).

All I remembered about that contest was the wonderful feedback I received. And it's true -- I did get some amazing feedback from one of the judges (ironically, she scored me the lowest, and I appreciated her the most!).

I'd forgotten, however, that another judge hated my entry with an all consuming passion (so, it was confusing that she rated it higher than the other judge). She ripped it to shreds, and not just for grammar or overall writing. Nope.

She tore my characters to pieces and then, when that wasn't enough, she told me that the entire premise was unbelievable.


In that same packet, I had one judge give me 100 and say that the thing was ready for publication, but it isn't her that I think about. Nope, no way. It's Vitriolic Woman.

The thing is, the judge who rated me the lowest said a few similar things, but she was kind. I read her feedback and nodded, and thought, "I can fix it." and tried to do just that.

I have a pretty decent ego. I think that a person who is writing for publication has to... or else why would we think anyone would want to read what we've written, let alone pay for it?

Still, V.W.'s feedback was enough to dent my ego deeply, to the point that I couldn't write yesterday. I'm working on editing through the same story and all I did was stare at it and think, "What if it is all a bunch of hooey? What if my characters are weak or stupid or unlikeable? What if the premise is poor?".

If I had been a brand new writer without a decent support group, if this had been my first contest or the first time I'd taken the plunge and shown my babies to someone, V.W.'s critique might have been enough to chase me from the dream of publication forever.

People like that shouldn't be allowed to judge.


Charity said...

I posted my ranty mcrant about this over in WVU, but you probably know that--and how I feel about this--already.

Tori Lennox said...

Sounds to me like that judge was suffering from hateful jealousy.

Marianne Arkins said...


Yeah. I know how you feel! LOL...


You're a peach. Thanks, I needed that :-]

Mrs. Fechter said...

I had a friend who DID get comments like that and DID quit writing. The anonimity (I KNOW I spelled that wrong - brain fart) gives people all kinds of freedoms. Unfortunately, some use it for evil.

I'm sorry the bad judge's comments stuck with you - isn't that the worst?

Mary (blocked out by Blogger)

MaryF said...

Hey, I just signed in as the wrong person! Weird blogger.


Marianne Arkins said...


That is so sad for your friend. What a horrible thing to have happened to her!