Okay, I'm only posting the category that has my name. . . :-)
The DAPHNE DU MAURIER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MYSTERY/SUSPENSE –Unpublished Division Finalists for 2014 are:
PARANORMAL (FANTASY/TIME TRAVEL/FUTURISTIC) ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE
Margaret A. Golla for Air Beneath a Dragon's Wings
Janet Halpin for A Moment After Dark
Janet Halpin for Beryl Blue, Time Cop
Sarah Kuest w/a Sarah Brady and Shannen Kuest w/a Shannen Brady for Healer
Roshani Chokshi for The Glass Garden
Yes, I was just a wee bit excited when I saw this. There was a cap of 50 entries in this category. I don't know if there were 10 or 50 entries, or a number in between . . . but I like to hope it was on the higher end of the competition.
And I was even more excited when I saw the scores of the contest entry that DIDN'T final.
The other story, The Fire Within, received scores of 111, 118, 112, and a 102. This is out of a total of 123 points maximum with the lowest score dropped. The largest majority of the deducted points seemed to be from the lack of romance provided in the first 20 pages, along with the need to layer a bit more throughout the submission, which caused the points to add up with minus one here, minus one there.
The romance was detailed in the synopsis, but some judges scored tougher than others in this respect. As a judge I tend to be a softer touch in this respect and maybe take one point off, while one of my judges took 4 out of 5 points.
It's all subjective.
Another interesting point is the story that finaled, Air Beneath a Dragon's Wings, had the exact same scenario: romance detailed in the synopsis, but you don't meet the hero in the actual manuscript pages, but the lack of meeting the hero didn't seem to bother those judges.
I won't know how the first round judges scored AIR until after the winners are announced at the award ceremony in July.
If you are a writer and want to improve your craft, there are numerous ways to do this: take classes, join a local writer's group, read writing books, and, of course, read books in your chosen genre.
But if you really want to know what judges are looking for in your contest entries, then volunteer to judge.
It's harder than you might think, but it is also more satisfying.
I'm always amazed at the wonderful stories I find hidden in the contest entries. Some stories are in need of TLC, while other stories are ready for publication, or maybe you can help a newbie writer with your font of writing wisdom.
If you don't want to judge, then take the time to download the score sheet. This is the best way of figuring out if you are hitting all the marks on a story. If you can't detach yourself from your story, then find someone you trust to take those sheets and judge your entry according to the criteria provided by the contest.
They might be able to see problems that you are too close to the story to see.
The key story elements in the Daphne revolve around questions involving:
- Beginning of the Manuscript
- Paranormal/Time Travel/Futuristic Specific
- Point of View
The reason a version of these story questions are always on a score sheet is because getting the balance right is what storytelling is all about.