Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Genesis results: The good, the bad, and the ugly

It’s official! I survived my FIRST ACFW Genesis contest!

It was very exciting, nerve-wracking, and rewarding. A HUGE thanks to every single judge for your time, effort, and care while handling everyone’s entries. I, for one, could tell it was a labor of love and appreciate all of you more than you’ll ever know!

I promised to share my results in an effort to help us learn from each other. I’m going to break this up into three different posts. Today, I’ll discuss the actual “scoring”, Thursday the “wins” and Friday the “room for improvements.”

SCORING

Scores are subjective, obviously. One person might love our entry, one might have to splash water on their face to stay awake while reading it. One might give you a 5 for great dialogue, and another might love your dialogue so grant you a…4. One might give you a 3 because you need to work on POV, and another for the same fault might award you a *gulp* one.

We all see, to some extent, this interesting side affect of human nature in our results.

For example, on my first entry, I received two scores of 92 and 93 respectively, which thrilled me to no end! I am still bouncing off the walls about that. But my third score was a 66. The walls were spared my weight when I saw that one. How could two people really like my book and one think it’s mediocre and in need of what would amount to, given comments, massive revision?

It’s the same reason that you see books on Amazon that have 50 reviews with 5 stars and 3 reviews with 3 stars. Everyone has different tastes and opinions.

Do I wish my third judge would have been like-minded with the first two? You betcha! But God isn’t dumb. He knew who was going to judge my manuscript and I’m content with that (well, in all honesty, I’m working on being content with that! I’m getting there though.) It just wasn’t meant to be.

My other two entries had all what I would call average scores in the 60’s and 70’s, with one 58. Some of those, two in particular, were riddles with extremes, 5’s and 1’s. Do I really have a great story worthy of a 5 but awful characterization worthy of a mere 1?

I might:-)

In truth, I didn’t worry too much about the scores for my second two books. These are both unfinished and true works in progress's. I DID polish up the manuscripts as much as I could, thus resulting in great scores in grammar and the like, but I write as I go. The plots still need a few more layers and I was fully aware of that. My reason for entering these were not really in the hope win (although that would have been nice too!) but to glean comments to see if I was headed down the right path, and how far off I was. And in that, the genesis really helped!

Discussion: PLEASE NOTE! My intent for this post is not to demean anyone or be critical of judges, and I’d appreciate if we followed suit in the comments as well. But, feel free to share with us your thoughts on scoring. If you entered and received your scores, share your scores only if you want, but furthermore were there irregularities that confused you? How have you worked to take your scores and make them meaningful? If you didn't win and just want to commiserate with me, feel free to comment as well!

7 comments:

Jessica said...

Congrats on the two high scores! That's awesome. I've heard when there's such a wide divergenge then people are responding to your voice more than the actual writing. Which is a good thing. :-)
I'm looking forward to your other posts!

And yes, I have lots of scoresheet stories. LOL

Jeanette Levellie said...

Krista:
I commend you for entering at all: you are a brave woman!!
(I guess after having kids you figure you can do anything, right?)
Those scores are awesome!
Keep up the great work, dear.
Jen

T. Anne said...

Krista, I entered the Amazon manuscript contest back in Feb. I made it to the amazon vine reader stage. My submission was judged by two people one loved it and said she would buy it in the bookstore. The other one found a flaw in everything under the sun. But just like you said, I knew God had a reason. Critisism is hard. Maybe next year, right? Oh wait, we'll both have agents by then! :)

Krista Phillips said...

Jessica, Thanks! I believe in this case given the comments it was responding to story, which is fine. Everyone is SO entitled on an opinion:-)

Jeanette, THANKS! Oh my, yes, after having Kids somedays I feel like Superwonderwoman... and then I fail and feel like superwonderdud! LOL

T.Anne: WAY to be positive!!!! I LOVE IT!

Jody Hedlund said...

Krista,
I lost some sleep last night thinking about the whole contest thing. And honestly, I'm not sure that contests truly reflect writing skill and story. I won't say why I feel this way, because I don't want to bash anyone.

But I wonder if winning has more to do with who you get for a judge than anything. Of course, I'm talking about people like you who score in the 90's for 2 judges and so low with another. I'm not referring to people who have consistently middle or low scores.

I think that those who are almost there and ready for publication will score near the top, but those who actually win among that group are the ones who got the easy judges. That's my theory.

In other words what I'm saying is that the five who finaled in each category may not necessarily be better writers than others at the top. They might have just had an easier judge. Do you know what I mean?

So, just because I finaled does not mean I'm a superior writer. Not in the least. I'm probably right in there with most everyone else at my level. I just happened to have the right judges.

I could be wrong! But that's my theory for this year!

Krista Phillips said...

Ah Jody!

First, don't lose sleep over it! YOU should be losing sleep because of your excitement girl!

And you DESERVED to final. Please don't ever think differently. You worked really hard for what you got, and you WERE one of the top five! Be proud of that!

For me and my scores... I'm content. I also remind myself that the 90's could have both been "easy" judges and 66er be the realistic one. It keeps me grounded and reminds myself that I still need to work really hard to improve.

Of course I was disappointed when I first got them, but that's life. There are disappointments and as much as I wish I COULD have finalled, I am SO happy for the 5 that did. They truely DID deserve it and I wouldn't change that for anything.

Now I just want to work hard, address the issues that were marked, and become a better writer. There is always another contest, another opportunity.

God knows what Krista needs, and that is SO enough for me!

Suzanne said...

I've heard from many people--and experienced myself--the confusion from judges that give greatly different scores for the same story. Personally, I think there needs to be set standards and that the judges need to be trained more. Whether they like the story personally or not should have nothing to do with the scores. They should also be given examples on how to score (maybe they are and their not sufficient, I don't know). For example they might say that if they find one thing that could possibly be a POV shift to lower the score by one, but if it's an obviously incorrect head-hop and it's the only one in the submission to drop the score to a 1 or a 2 because the author obviously doesn't understand POV.

I don't know, maybe I'm just being optimistic, but it seems to me that there's got to be a better way to judge contests. It seems like too much of it comes down on the side of "the judge just didn't like it".