Friday, 11 January 2019

Making up my mind

I've spent a lot of time this week reading other people's short stories in my role as a competition judge. I've done this before and it's always a privilege, but it's also very difficult.

How do I compare, sci-fi with romance, humour with horror? How do I stop myself choosing a story that is to my taste, but not necessarily the best written? Indeed, should I?

Then there is the question of entries that are beautifully written, but not, to my mind, stories: that is to say, they read more like extracts from a bigger piece of work. Am I judging the quality of the writing from a technical point of view or is the tale itself the most important element?

The answer to all these questions is, of course, that it's up to me. I've been asked to judge, but that only means to give my opinion; and this is the case with all competitions. So if you're slogging away submitting entries and rarely or never walking away with the prize, this doesn't mean you're not a good writer. Judging is subjective. Another panel might have picked you - and may well do so next time.


  1. What a heartening post this is. Writers do wonder what makes the difference in what gets selected and what doesn't. This is a good perspective to keep.

  2. Spoken like an experienced and wise competition judge!

  3. I really feel for you, Julia, and empathise completely since I've adjudicated several competitions and had the same decisions to make! I always mention that another adjudicator might have chosen a different winner but we can only go by our own opinion. I don't think I've ever chosen one because it's a subject I like and I try to be objective as to the quality of the writing. Good luck!

    1. Wise words, Rosemary. At least I didn't have to provide a critique of each entry.