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|Issue #38 of the Writing.Com Reviewing Newsletter.
Your guest editor is: The Dark Lady
[ Table of Contents ]
1. About this Newsletter
2. Letter from the Editor
3. Editor's Picks
4. Ask & Answer
5. Useful Links
[ About this Newsletter ]
If you've ever hosted a contest, you've seen the wide range of writing levels on the website. Some judges are content to choose their favorite stories and award them; others prefer to let each author know what they enjoyed -- and what they didn't -- about the story entered.
Some judges save their reviewing for when the contest has ended. Some judges use their
reviews of entries to help them determine winners.
And some judges make use of a middle ground, reviewing as they read entries, but choosing
their winners outside of what the reviews discussed.
[ Letter from the Editor ]
If you've ever held a contest, you know that a lot of hard work goes into setting it up, making it organized and presentable, and especially into judging entries and choosing winners. To think of sending a review to each contestant, sometimes, just feels like asking for a headache. If your contest has a high volume of entries, or if you expect a number of particularly long entries, it's easy to realize that giving each one an in-depth review is more of a challenge than you can afford.
Some judges do a quick review of every entry; this can help with judging the contest. Reviews can be useful for keeping track of which items you've read, or for making notes of what you really loved, what you thought could be better, and what left you unimpressed with an entry. A perusal of the Public Review Page might show you that several Writing.com judges also use reviews just to let contestants know their entries have been received and read.
But there are those, too, who let contestants know that it's unlikely their entries will receive reviews from the judges. If you aren't absolutely positive that you'll be able to review an indeterminable number of entries within a reasonable timeframe, it's probably best not to let contestants believe that each entry will receive the attention one might expect by presenting their writing to a reviewing forum.
If you do want to review your contestants, though, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind.
The purpose of your review.
Of course, every judge on Writing.com hopes contestants will learn something -- I believe
most of us are here because we want to become better writers or to help others become
better writers. But do you, as a judge, want to help only by offering a novel prompt idea
to get -- or keep -- a writer's creative juices flowing? Will your reviews be a note to yourself and to your contestants, or do you have time and energy to invest into actively offering suggestions and opinions?
The timing of your review.
Do you wait until the contest is finished to send out reviews, or do you review entries as they come in? Are you allowing contestants to revise and edit before the winners are
announced? If you are, do you go back and look at entries again, or is your decision made
by the time the contestant receives the review?
Think about it; if you let your contestants revise, and if you let those revisions affect your judgment of the winners, then those whose entries were reviewed first have a little more time than later reviewees to polish their entries. Contestants might make changes simply because you've suggested them, and in this particular situation, they are writing specifically with your opinion in mind.
On the other hand, I know I've entered contests and received reviews but had to wait, just itching to make some of the changes judges suggested. Even if a contestant doesn't hope to strictly improve his chances by following the advice of the judge, your review might keep your contestants inspired and excited about what they've written.
Your investment in the contest.
If you've created a contest and promised to give in-depth reviews to all entrants, think about how much time a review generally takes you, and consider how much time that means you'll spend if you receive, say, forty entries. Have you set a length limit on the entries? Is it possible you'll find a twenty-chapter novel waiting for your review? Will someone enter but fail to follow the rules or the prompt, knowing that they cannot win, but they will at least get a review out of it?
If you really want to offer reviews, maybe you can include them as a part of the prizes. When you set out knowing you will review three, or five, or even ten entries, the chances
that you'll be overwhelmed -- or taken advantage of -- are considerably more in your favor.
What do you want to do?
Now, there's no requirement that you go with one extreme or the other. You might have the time and interest to give a number of reviews with considerable speed. If you can compare contest entries objectively and look at each item individually to offer its author your opinion and suggestions, then you should feel comfortable with reviewing -- and you'll make a number of contestants very happy people. Happy contestants are return contestants, and your contest will attract more attention when people see that you're willing to hand out more than prizes.
[ Editor’s Picks ]
[ Ask and Answer ]
Yes, indeed, the format for this newsletter was ripped right off out of Editor Arwee 's hands.
With permission, and my thanks.
[ Useful Links ]
"Feedback Central" – Send the editors some suggestions and general feedback.
"Reviewing Newsletters" – View previous issues of the Reviewing Newsletter.