Judging is based on the Diederich scale for a possible maximum score of 50 points. Judges are encouraged to make written comments directly in the manuscript and on the score sheets. The degree and depth of the critique provided is at the discretion of the individual judge. Judges are published authors, RWA PRO, and certified through a six-hour TARA workshop. All judging is confidential.
10 Highest = The author does a fantastic job creating and introducing three-dimensional characters. The story starts with a great hook and a strong sense of conflict and movement. The author shows a perfected skill with dialogue that moves the plot ahead. Every scene adds to the importance of the story and progresses in a realistic, compelling manner.
8 High = The characters are more interesting than ordinary but could use deeper development. Though the plot is plausible, better worldbuilding would help clarify the storyline. Dialogues fit the characters’ personalities, positions, or ages, however, their “voice” could be more distinct. The use of more active words and/or less “telling” the action would enhance the pacing.
6 Middle = The characters are ordinary with no clear goals and motivations. The story concept is rather conventional, and needs more work and thought to create conflict. The dialogue is interesting but too inconsistent for overall effectiveness. The pacing either drags or seems rushed in places and needs more balance and flow.
4 Low = The characters do not inspire the reader’s sympathy or interest. There’s not a broad enough picture for the reader to become completely engaged in the storyline. Conversations between characters sound contrived and errors in the arrangement of sentences confuse the reader. Backstory and telling overwhelm the dialogue and action and slows the pace.
Are the characters compelling and well-rounded? Are their motivations clear? Is the hero/heroine instantly identifiable from secondary characters? Does the point of view technique effectively reveal the characters to the reader?
Does the story start at a good point with a strong sense of movement? Does at least one main character have clear external conflict and at least a hint of internal conflict? Is the point of view consistent with the character whose head you are in? Will the conflict sustain the plot? Does the plot seem contrived? Do the scenes flow with effective transitions?
Is the dialogue purposeful, realistic, natural? Does it move the plot forward? Are the conversations engaging? Does it fit the time period? Are tags used effectively?
Is the writer’s voice unobtrusive? Is pacing appropriate to the story? Does the author effectively show action with a minimum of telling? Are the opening and closing hooks effective? Is the transition from narrative to internalization to action or dialogue smooth and balanced? Is the writer including too much backstory or background information, thus slowing the pace?
Are the mechanics of the story accurate, clear, and neatly executed? Are there major errors in the consistency of tenses, references to pronouns, misplaced modifiers, etc.? Is sentence structure correct? Are fragments used effectively? Are there obvious errors in spelling and punctuation which might be prevented with a more careful proofread? Do punctuation errors affect the readability?
Is the manuscript clear and attractive and prepared in the generally accepted format with 1″ margins, double spacing, page numbers, font, left justification, and size of type? (DO NOT take points off for formatting errors due to document upload transfer.) If standard industry guidelines were not followed, does it affect the readability?
Judges: Please include additional comments. Did you want to read more? Could you feel the sexual tension between the protagonists? Any last thoughts of encouragement?