Monday, April 23, 2012

A change in Go Teen Writers Contests

What a thrill it's been to watch the tremendous growth we've seen in Go Teen Writers writing contests. Last year, we were getting about 30-40 entries. The contests in 2012 have had between 80 and 95 entries.

The writers who judges contests here do it because they love pouring into the upcoming generation of writers. But as their own writing careers grow, so do the demands on their time. So we pow-wowed and tried to figure out a solution so they could keep judging, the contest could keep growing, and everyone could still receive feedback.

Here are the adjustments we've been able to agree upon for those that do not make the top twenty:

Many of the entries have the same technique issues. Instead of having to come up with new ways to say "your pacing is rushed" or "you're summarizing instead of showing the story" there will be a list of standard responses the judge can mark if they apply to the entry.

Ideally, we agreed, we would be able to provide tailored responses for everybody, but as the contest grows, it's clear we can't. Especially if we want to run the contests as frequently as we have been.

We're still tweaking this chart, but here's what it looks like so far:

__ This entry is highly creative – way to go!
__ Intriguing premise
__ Great dialogue
__ This is a character that I would enjoy reading about
__ Great hook!
__ Creative use of the prompt sentence.
__ Good conflict.
__ Strong voice.
__ Very clean, smooth writing.

__ Try being more specific in your descriptions. Many of your details are vague.
__ The pacing rushed – you’re telling the story too quickly.
__ This reads more like a summary of a story than it does the opening of a story.
__ You have repetitive thoughts and/or words in this entry.
__ You’re telling the story rather than showing it to us.
__ There are some POV inconsistencies in your entry.
__ Dialogue feels stiff and could use some smoothing.
__ Grammar/Spelling errors
__ Didn’t follow contest instructions
__ Too much backstory
__ The balance feels off, either too much description or too much dialogue

Again, those who make the top 20 will still receive the same style of feedback.

The only other options we came up with were reducing the number of contests per year or limiting the number of entries. We thought "more generic feedback" was a better alternative.

Thanks for all your hard work and creativity - that's what makes the contests so fun!


  1. Love the chart! Even if it's more "generic" it gives the contestant a basic idea of what to work on, which is sometimes easier to work with than a whole paragraph explaining things. I feel I can really learn something from this chart. Never entered a contest here before, but I'm considering it! :)

  2. Yes, what a great idea! And certianly better than the other options! Thank you all for all the time and wok you put in to the contests. We really appreciate it!

  3. Thank y'all so much. This actually looks like it would be more helpful than a couple of sentences of feedback. Again - thank you!

  4. It looks like a great chart, I can understand how all those entrees can be a whole lot of work! And all those judges are ah-mazing!!!!!!!!!! Do you know when the next one will be Stephanie??? I'm guessing next week right? Thanks everyone who helps out with the contests!! Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)
    Philippians 4:8

    1. Sierra, I'm thinking next week ... maybe Wednesday the 2nd? I'm firming that up with a couple judges.

  5. I can definitely see why this change was necessary, and I think you came up with a fabulous solution! Actually, that checklist seems pretty perfect. :) Thanks so much to you and to all the judges for all of the time and effort you contribute - we really appreciate it! :)

  6. I really like the chart. It is still specific enough that you understand where the judge is coming from. It will be easier for me to see patterns in my mistakes. What am I really good and what is something I really need to work on.

  7. I think the chart is a fantastic idea: great for the judges to use to make judging easier, better for the writer to understand.
    I have a question - when will the latest contest (This is not what I expected) winners be announced? Just wondering ;)

  8. Thanks guys for being so understanding! We really value your opinions and participation.

    Sarah, still waiting for the results! Hopefully the next couple days.

  9. I agree with what a lot of people have said, this actually looks like it will give more feedback! Can't wait till the next contest :)

  10. I totally get why you have to do it this way. At least we still get some feedback! And thanks for keeping the personal tailored responses for the top 20, it's like a prize! I cant wait to see the winners writings! Thanks for letting us know too, means a lot:)

    1. Agreed -- I was probably taking that feedback for granted. And I do appreciate these prompt contests a whole lot!

  11. First of all, a HUGE thank you to all the judges who are so dedicated to investing in us teen-and-early-twenties-writers (a title I had to type out because I oh-so-slowly tread toward my twentieth birthday). ;)

    Second, a HUGE grateful thank you to you, Stephanie. For the idea. For the tweaking of it. For the way you always make these contests fun to participate in. :)

    Third, I really like this solution, because I really like having the contests as often as we do. :) Great list! And I appreciate that the ones who make the top twenty still get personalized feedback.

    Fourth, the end. (Can ya'll tell I've been laboring over an English paper and trying to organize better...?! LOL)

  12. I like this idea best. I'm new to the site and haven't got to take part in any of the contests yet, so the idea of less contests/entries was deffinately not a good thing.