Last year, I had been invited to enter the annual James River Writers, “Best Unpublished Novel” contest. I had strongly considered submitting my manuscript, but I knew what trusted friends confirmed: it wasn’t ready for the looming deadline. A day or so after deciding not to enter, I was then invited to judge the same contest. This was by far the better choice and I’m glad that it worked out this way.
I had never judged a contest and I looked forward to the experience. It turned out to be a wonderful way to spend a Saturday, sweetened by the location. A JRW member lent out her delightful home, situated on the James River. Every bit of it had character, charm and warmth.
I would guess that some two dozen people came and went throughout the day to help go through the 70+ entries. Judging involved reading the 50 submitted pages and filling out a form at the end. Judges score on elements ranging from basic spelling and grammar to voice, dialogue, plot and so on.
Generally a slow reader, I had finished five by the time we wrapped up for the day. I won’t get into the details of what I had read, but there was one that I hope to see become a finalist.
Good luck to all those who entered!