When I first started the endeavor to be published, I entered a few contests with two different manuscripts. I ended up stopping because I noticed a pattern in the judging of them. When the judges were published writers, I got great feedback and pretty decent scores. When the judges were unpublished, I got low scores and snarky comments on how bad the story was as well as advice to stop writing. Yep. That happened. It seemed to me that the unpubbeds had an agenda. To make aspiring writers drop out of the competition. The published writers were much more kind and generous with sharing tips and how-tos. Sadly, there was not enough of that with the unpubbeds.
Interestingly, the day after I got scores on one of my stories, SOLO HONEYMOON, I got a contract on it, so I guess those two unpubbed writers who had mean things to say were wrong. One of them actually said she liked the best friend better than the heroine because the heroine was upset all the time (okay- this was first 20 pages) and the friend was more fun. Well, honey, the story was about a jilted bride taking her honeymoon with her best friend who was trying to cheer her up- so, was the heroine supposed to be all happy and smiles by page 20? I think not.
I’ve judged a few contests and even if I think the work is nowhere near ready to be published, I say kind things and try to give guidance. Like I always say, there’s enough readers out there for everyone, there’s no need to destroy someone’s hope and dreams.
What about you? Have you seen a difference in published and unpublished judges in the writing contests you’ve entered?