To view this notification widget you need to have JavaScript enabled. This notification widget was easily created with NotifySnack.
Home Tour About Read What's New Help Forums Join Login
My Account
Shop
Save
Support
E
Book
Store
Learn
About
Jesus
  




The HOME for Christian writers!
The Home for Christian Writers!

Forums

This area is only a small portion of FaithWriters. The main site can be joined HERE.
Shop & Save to SUPPORT FaithWriters.
Upgrade to SUPPORT FaithWriters.

Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6105
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby glorybee » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:57 pm

The sixth criterion on the judges’ rating sheet of Writing Challenge entries has two parts. The first is this:

Did this entry have a point?

Of all the criteria, this is the one that can be the most difficult to discuss and to measure. For some types of writing—devotionals and inspirational stories or poems come to mind—the point of the entry should be evident: it is the lesson that the reader is to take away, and it will often be found as a final paragraph, sentence, or stanza.

However, for other types of writing—fiction, in particular, and to some extent, poetry—the “point” of the entry may not be so obvious. Many fiction entries do indeed have a point (when I was teaching English, I also called it a theme)—a takeaway for the reader—but for others, the point is not so obvious. For example, when I was writing for the challenge, I occasionally wrote humorous stories that were new versions of old fairy tales. Here’s an example of one of those. There wasn’t really a lesson, a theme, a point—my objective was simply to amuse the reader.

Similarly, although many poems have a point, others do not; some poems are simply beautiful word pictures, lacking a lesson but intended to evoke an emotional response in the reader.

So…for humorous fiction, some kinds of poetry, and other types of writing for which the “point” does not take the form of a lesson for the reader, how might the judges look at this criterion?

As a judge, I would ask myself two questions: What genre is this? And is it a good example of that genre? So if I was reading, for example, a lighthearted romance, I’d try to determine if it was successful as a lighthearted romance. If it was a pastoral free verse poem, I’d try to determine if it was successful as a pastoral free verse poem. I’d compare them to excellent examples of those genres that I was already familiar with, or lacking those, with characteristics of typical [genre] pieces, and rate them highly in this criterion if I found them effective, less highly if I did not.

***

The second part of this judging criterion is a little bit easier to evaluate:

Was the entry clearly written and communicated?

As I’ve said before, there’s some overlap here with many of the other judging criteria. To be clearly written, an entry should have considerable evidence of the writer’s craftsmanship—both the art and the mechanics of writing. It should not make me scratch my head and say Huh?

Unclear writing sometimes happens in three specific circumstances:

1. First person creative nonfiction. A writer may be re-telling an event that occurred to her, and in an effort to “protect the innocent” or to keep the circumstances from being recognizable, she may obscure the events too much, or simply imply something, or leave hints. Or the writer may try to spare the reader some unpleasant detail--but by beating about the bush, she leaves the reader unsure about what actually happened.

Also in creative nonfiction, the writer may be writing about an event that was very meaningful in her life—so of course, she knows all the details and all of the back story that may include decades of family history. She doesn’t realize that she needs to clue the reader in on some of those details; it doesn’t occur to her because this is emotional content that she has always known.

2. Similarly, I’ve read lots of devotionals where the writer is using a human interest story to illustrate a point, but again, he does not include enough details (often to protect someone’s anonymity). You can disguise an anecdote by changing identifying characteristics of the key players, the place, even elements of the actual event. But don’t be coy by saying “something terrible happened” (or something similar).

3. This next thing happens a lot in science fiction and fantasy writing, but it can happen in other genres, too. In sci-fi/fantasy, often the writer has to create an entire world—with a population of perhaps-not-humans, a history, a culture, a geography. Writers in these genres often hold that entire world in their heads; therefore, the actions of their characters make perfect sense to them. However, in 750 words, they rarely have time to convey all of that information to the readers. Consequently, readers may be puzzled by events or actions that don’t particularly make sense in this world.

I don’t really have homework for this lesson, but you’re welcome to link to one of your own entries that illustrates something that I’ve written above. Or you can feel free to make a comment or ask a question about anything that I’ve said above. I make every effort to respond to all comments and questions.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
Cinnamon Bear
Pencil 6 (300-499 Posts)
Pencil 6 (300-499 Posts)
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:35 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:22 pm

I am posting one of my entries that did not place, and I suspect did not score high for criterion #6. The topic that week was to write something in the history genre. Ironically I have submitted a number of good pieces of historical fiction, but this entry wasn't one of them.

The problem is that it contains characters and a setting from a novel I am writing. In the context of the previous chapters this piece made sense. As a stand alone Challenge entry it didn't make much sense to the reader. It has a catchy title which attracted a number of readers, but they were let down when they read it.

Here it is---"Cats Own Us":

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level2-previous.php?id=15720

Cinnamon Bear

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6105
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby glorybee » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:34 pm

Cinnamon Bear wrote:I am posting one of my entries that did not place, and I suspect did not score high for criterion #6. The topic that week was to write something in the history genre. Ironically I have submitted a number of good pieces of historical fiction, but this entry wasn't one of them.

The problem is that it contains characters and a setting from a novel I am writing. In the context of the previous chapters this piece made sense. As a stand alone Challenge entry it didn't make much sense to the reader. It has a catchy title which attracted a number of readers, but they were let down when they read it.

Here it is---"Cats Own Us":

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level2-previous.php?id=15720

Cinnamon Bear


Virginia, thank you for sharing this. I think you're right--this would make much more sense as part of a larger work. As it is, you had to lay a lot of groundwork, and character development and plot suffered a bit. Still--the writing was compelling, the title was excellent, and it had a very good sense of time and place.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
Cinnamon Bear
Pencil 6 (300-499 Posts)
Pencil 6 (300-499 Posts)
 
Posts: 339
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:35 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:44 pm

Thanks Jan, for reading my entry and for your kind words. :)

The Bear

User avatar
lish1936
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
 
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:21 pm
Location: New York

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby lish1936 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:48 pm

Jan wrote:Similarly, although many poems have a point, others do not; some poems are simply beautiful word pictures, lacking a lesson but intended to evoke an emotional response in the reader.


Jan, I was wondering if the first poem I wrote for the Challenge might come under the above category. I couldn't really find a take-away from it. Correct me if I'm off here, but I would imagine the point of a poem could sometimes be obvious solely by it's title, if nothing else.

Quintessential Rebel

Lillian
E-Book - Retirement Lane - How to Celebrate Life After 60

Fortunate 500


I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6105
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby glorybee » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:38 pm

lish1936 wrote:
Jan wrote:Similarly, although many poems have a point, others do not; some poems are simply beautiful word pictures, lacking a lesson but intended to evoke an emotional response in the reader.


Jan, I was wondering if the first poem I wrote for the Challenge might come under the above category. I couldn't really find a take-away from it. Correct me if I'm off here, but I would imagine the point of a poem could sometimes be obvious solely by it's title, if nothing else.

Quintessential Rebel

Lillian


Lillian, your marvelous free verse poem does indeed have a point, and you told it to your readers at the beginning of several stanzas--it can be done. And you're right--your title underscored the lesson, as did every exquisitely rendered phrase.

When I spoke of "word pictures," I was thinking of poems like this one, by Jim McWhinnie. It's a very evocative look at baseball, but it doesn't have a "lesson" to speak of, other than just for the reader to re-experience baseball as he or she remembers it.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
lish1936
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
 
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:21 pm
Location: New York

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby lish1936 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:55 pm

Oh yes, now I see. Jim is a master at word pictures, actually at most forms of poetry. :D Maybe I was trying to find a point or theme, but I think I saw a not-so-obvious one within this well crafted poem. But you're right, I couldn't find a "lesson."



Lillian
E-Book - Retirement Lane - How to Celebrate Life After 60

Fortunate 500


I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

JayDavidKing
Pencil 1 (1-49 Posts)
Pencil 1 (1-49 Posts)
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:46 am

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby JayDavidKing » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:22 pm

Jan, I wanted to offer this for class analysis because it is one of the things you mentioned in this lesson... sci-fi in 750 words or less with a whole new world to build. How would the judges probably view this story as far as the sixth criteria? I don't know if this example is good or needs to be reworked but I'm willing to learn from anyone with a constructive opinion. In this story I tried to build the image of the new world in the reader's mind by making conversation and description do two jobs: show a picture and move the story. You are correct, that is a hard job in the challenge when you have to create an entire new world, including characters, plot, conflict, etc. Fortunately, with this example most Christian readers already had a concept in their mind of what the Great Tribulation might be like. That helped.

Here is the story:
First Church of the New World Religion
http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=20196

User avatar
glorybee
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 6105
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:46 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby glorybee » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:08 pm

JayDavidKing wrote:Jan, I wanted to offer this for class analysis because it is one of the things you mentioned in this lesson... sci-fi in 750 words or less with a whole new world to build. How would the judges probably view this story as far as the sixth criteria? I don't know if this example is good or needs to be reworked but I'm willing to learn from anyone with a constructive opinion. In this story I tried to build the image of the new world in the reader's mind by making conversation and description do two jobs: show a picture and move the story. You are correct, that is a hard job in the challenge when you have to create an entire new world, including characters, plot, conflict, etc. Fortunately, with this example most Christian readers already had a concept in their mind of what the Great Tribulation might be like. That helped.

Here is the story:
First Church of the New World Religion
http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=20196


Gerald, I think this one was just fine. You hit the nail on the head when you said that most Christians have heard enough end times speculation that this world already seemed somewhat familiar to them. I don't think this story would have been rated low for this criterion.
Jan Ackerson

User avatar
RachelM
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
Pencil Plus (Over 500 Posts)
 
Posts: 578
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:52 pm

Re: Be a Better Writer--THE SIXTH JUDGING CRITERION

Postby RachelM » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:28 am

I'm glad that you wrote on this topic, because I wasn't really sure how the judges looked at this criterion. I think being aware of the importance of "having a point" is helping me to be more focused.
My FaithWriters profile: RachelM FW member profile


Return to Jan's Writing Basics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


© MeasurelessMedia. All rights reservedTerms of Service



Jesus - True for You But not for Me      Website Builder     Build Website     Is Jesus God?    
Does God exist?     Build a writers website     Does truth exist?     Website online in minutes