Judging and Being Judged
I am a regular volunteer with our local Kelowna Project Literacy. It's time well spent, helping someone else who wants to learn. I'm currently working with a beautiful young woman who is trying to pass her Canadian Citizenship Test and let me tell you, it is a test I'd be willing to bet money on that most naturally born Canadians would never be able to get the required 75% correct right answers to pass. Seriously, do you know the name of BC's Lieutenant Governor? Did you even know we had one?
On a much different note, the awesome folks at Project Literacy asked if I'd be a judge in their short story contest. As a former T.A. in a university creative writing program and a writer who has reached many shortlists and even first runner up in several short story contests, I felt confident I could do a good job and agreed. I'm just finishing up the young adult section of stories now and have to confess, being a judge is hard work. Really hard. It makes me think of all the readers who have volunteered their time to read my stories and the countless others submitted to the plethora of short story contests, and them having to rate all those stories and come to a final decision. And it is also making me more observant about what a story needs to stand out from the rest of the pack and the EXTREME importance of proof reading. Because few things can throw you out of a story faster than typos, missing words and
sentences that just
drop out and then continue one somewhere else.
What makes a story a winner? I'm sure I will have some debates with the other judges over this once we have all submitted our rating sheets but for me, it is attention to detail with language and having something unexpected occur. I'm also partial to flawed characters whose personalities resemble a dog's dropped Kong toy in the way they unpredictably bounce.
I'd say 'good luck' to everyone who entered but honestly, it's a little late for that now. Other than the bad luck of having my phone ring repeatedly while I'm trying to read someone's story, there really is no luck involved at this point.
OK, back to reading...