All the facts about the Challenge and special announcements from the Coordinator.
Moderator: Deb Porter
WRITING CHALLENGE RATINGS FEEDBACK REPORTS
PLEASE NOTE: Two Report Requests from April 2016 (instead of the previous three).
Feedback from members on the reports:
"This report is so incredibly helpful! I wish I had more than two reports available to me. Thank you for the detailed and helpful feedback. I hope to work through the entire report including recommended reading. Thank you, again. By His grace," Raymond
Hello Deb, Thank you so much for the report. WOW! There are so many things you've so
clearly pointed out that I need to work on. This is sooo exciting! What amazing tools there are to help improve my writing. This is so encouraging. I can't thank you enough. God Bless You, Francie
"Such valuable insights, and guidance in this feedback report. I appreciate the feedback, and will do the suggested rewriting. This report is like gold; I feel richly blessed." Judy
"These rating reports have really helped to improve my writing. It is a way to assess what works and what doesn't work with the judges. It is also a great tool for learning how to critique others works. I believe this is only my second entry submitted. Thank you." Bonnie
"Thanks very much for taking time to offer this awesome critique. I will take the comments to heart in the next challenge. I appreciate this process." Carolyn
"Thank you so much! Your comments helped me understand what I did wrong. When I have a bit more time, I'm going to study this report and try to see how I might accomplish a better story within the word-count. I greatly appreciate your time and expertise." Dannie
"Dear Deb, I want to thank you for sending me the ratings report for my article Remember the Raspberries. I debated quite a bit on whether to order a report for this or not, but I decided to because I was surprised that I did so well on it. I am very new to all of this and thought it would be helpful to see what I had done right, especially since I am now moving up a level. I can’t believe how much I have learned since I joined Faithwriter’s in February. Thank you so much for helping me. I feel very blessed. God bless you for all that you do." Karen
"I think these reports might be the best addition to the challenge yet." Diane
"Hello, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for the FW program/website. It helped me hone writing skills and learn to write on a consistent basis. Before I found your site, I was pretty hit and miss with my hobby, but largely through your ministry, I've become a professional writer. Amazing!" Deborah
Platinums Order a Report Here on judged entries October 2015 going forward. If you are not logged into the main site you will be first taken to the log in page and then to the page where you can order a report.
Learn About Reports Below
From October 1, 2015, basic ratings feedback on Writing Challenge entries will be made available on request (please see the list of categories below). A request link to order a ratings report will be placed on the Challenge main page. This program is being offered to Platinum members only due to the additional time and effort these reports entail. Make sure you upgrade to take advantage of this tremendous new benefit and Upgrade Here.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20 ESV
Until now, we have hesitated to introduce this form of feedback due to the potential for discouragement to more sensitive writers. Critique is vital for a writer’s growth, but we know that not everyone is ready to receive it. Read article: Who's Afraid of Big Bad Critique?
Please read the sample report and carefully consider whether you are prepared for this type of feedback before submitting a request.
Sample Report Here
If you believe you are ready to grow as a writer, here are all the details you need to know:
1. Ratings feedback will be made available (by member request only) to Platinum members, free of charge, during each quarter of the Writing Challenge on Challenges going forward from October 1st, 2015. Reports are to be ordered by a member when they desire to learn why it placed where it did so they can improve the next time.
2. Each Platinum member will be able to request up to TWO reports during each quarter of the Challenge.
3. ONE WEEK WINDOW: Reports can only be ordered after your entry has been judged and must be ordered within one week of a topic's closing date. Reports cannot be ordered for past topics.
4. The TWO credits per quarter are not cumulative. They will not rollover to the next quarter.
5. These reports are not sugar coated in any way, but as such, they are invaluable as a tool for growth.
6. Requests for reports on Editors’ Choice winning entries will not be accepted. (Please note: Editors' Choice are the top ten entries each week.)
7. As is the case with the Challenge, the judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Below are the EIGHT CATEGORIES you will receive personal feedback on for your entry. In addition to reviewing these categories you should review the Judging Criteria and Critique lessons toimprove in these areas here: viewtopic.php?f=67&t=39652
RATING CATEGORIES OVERVIEW -- as from October 22, 2010
Judging for the Challenge is very different to reading for pure pleasure. Our small team of judges comprise professional editors and a group of the best Editors' Choice winners. For the Challenge, they evaluate each entry based on eight different areas—essentially all aspects of good writing (as well as one goal almost every writer would have).
Each entry is judged on its own merits, based on the eight rating categories alone—not as compared to any other entry. If a Level 1 entry rates highly in each of the eight categories, it has as much right in the Editor's Choice awards as that of a Level 4 or 3 entry.
So here are the current ratings categories, which will be used from this week.
1. How well did this entry fit the topic?
If the judge feels that the topic has been missed completely, then the entry will score “0” in this category. For example, this happened a lot way back in the “Unsung Hero” challenge. Quite a lot of people wrote about “Jesus,” but really he is the “sung hero” of thousands upon thousands. So if an entry for that particular Challenge was a general piece about Jesus being an “unsung hero,” then it needed to be rated very low. If, however, it was about how he was not recognized in his home town or by his family, then that would have fit the topic. The same situation happened in the Genre challenges. People tended to write about the word, rather than the genre. For example, in the Children’s genre, some people wrote about their children, and did it in a way that was not aimed at children as the readers. In that case, those entries were off topic.
If, on the other hand, the topic is mentioned in passing only, then this category will be rated low. In other words, if the topic was “vase,” and the entry has nothing to do with a vase except to mention that there was a vase on the table at some point in the story, then that has to be rated very low.
If the topic is covered, but not really central to the story, it would receive a midway score in this category.
If the topic is the central focus of the entry (or it is a vital part of the overall story), then it gets full marks for this.
Please note: The topic word(s) do not need to be used in the entry, but the meaning should be the main focus or be essential to the entry (in other words, the entry would not work without it).
2. How creative, unique, fresh and memorable was this entry?
Creativity isn’t always out of the box, although an out of the box entry will usually be a creative one (unless it is so out of the box that it misses the point). An entry is creative if it looks at the topic in a way that is fresh and unique.
When we had the “flower” challenge quite a while back, the comment I received from one judge was that if she read one more story about a talking bud, she would scream. We’ve had many weeks where the same concept comes through over and over again. For “Purple” it was Lydia. For “Eek” it was mice. If the judges read entry after entry from the same angle, it’s probably not terribly creative.
If, however, an entry comes from a familiar angle but is done in a fresh way, then that will have greater appeal in this category. The difference is very obvious to the reader.
Special note here—non-fiction can be very creative. It just needs to be a fresh take on the topic. In other words, if the entry is saying things that you could read straight out of the Bible, or have heard from a million preachers, then it’s not creative.
Along with a creative, fresh idea, the judges are also looking for writing that sticks with the reader. Something the reader won't forget the minute they turn the page.
3. How well crafted was this entry (overall crafting of the writing, including grammar and predictability)?
Something may come from a fresh angle, but be a real mess in the telling. This really doesn’t need an explanation. It's not hard to spot the difference between a well crafted piece of writing and something that has been thrown together in an hour or so. This is why Kenn Allan always did so well with his poetry. He took time and care to craft each word (if you have never read any of Kenn’s work, I encourage you to read his Challenge winners … and there are many).
On the other hand, some people rush to get their entry in within the first few hours. The creativity may be there, but the craftsmanship is often lacking, and the ratings for this category do reflect that.
We’ve noticed a very positive trend over recent quarters for there to be a rush to submit entries on the last day. It’s positive for the writers, but a headache for the judges who have a mountain of reading and rating to do at the last minute. Even so, the good outweighs the judges’ inconvenience. This is showing, for the most part, a realization that time is needed to let an entry simmer until it is as good as the author can make it.
We also moved Grammar into the Crafting category, where it most definitely belongs. Judges consider grammar as one aspect of the overall crafting rating.
Last of all, the judges also weight up the predictability of an entry. If the reader knows straight away where an entry is going, then it has not been crafted well. So even when writing non-fiction or Bible stories, avoid playing all your cards straight away.
4. Did the entry start well?
A good start is VITAL to a winning entry. Starting with something like, “When I think about the word ….” is not good. Starting with any reference to the Challenge or topic at all, is not good.
(On that note, it is HIGHLY recommended that you do not mention anything to do with the Challenge in your entries. Although entries about the Challenge may make us smile, the Editor's Choice winners will never have any reference to the Challenge. This is because the EC winners will be used in future anthologies, with readers who may be completely unfamiliar with FaithWriters and the Challenge. So entries about the Challenge, or mentioning the Challenge, are too "in house" to work in the wider market.)
A good start hooks the reader from the opening paragraph and makes them want to keep reading. We live in an instant gratification era. If an online article/story doesn’t catch the reader with a good hook at the start, then the average reader will click off in approximately seven seconds.
Judges are told to ask themselves this question when reading each entry: “If I wasn’t judging this, how much would I want to keep reading to the end?” The answer to that helps them rate each entry.
5. Did the entry come to a satisfying conclusion?
A good ending is just as important as a good start. This does not mean that everything has been tied up in a neat bow, or that everyone lives happily ever after. However, it does mean that the reader feels their time has been well spent. There is nothing worse, for a reader, than to invest their time in reading something, only to feel cheated, flat, rushed or let down by the ending.
To date, one of the weakest areas for Challenge entries generally, has been the endings. Judges often express their disappointment when a really good story fizzles in the final paragraph.
6. Was this entry clearly written and communicated?
There are two aspects to this category. One is whether the author has communicated the point they were making to the reader. If the judge is left scratching their head at the end and wondering what on earth that was all about, then this category will be rated very low.
Having said that, the judges are also very aware that some entries are purely designed to make people laugh and don’t really have any great significance. Even so, there should be a unifying thread that runs through the entry, and not just a whole lot of one-liners strung together.
The other aspect to this category is regarding general clarity. In some cases, the point may be very obvious, simply because it's a very well known point, but the general communication of that article, overall, may be less than clear.
A special note (and reminder) on this point--although entries do not have to have a Christian message or moral, they MUST be from a Christian point of view.
7. Did it flow smoothly?
An entry may start wonderfully, finish fantastically, but be completely disjointed in the middle. This category asks judges to evaluate how well an entry stayed on track. Did it flow smoothly from the opening to the ending, without going off on a tangent or getting muddied in the middle?
8. How publishable is this entry for its target audience?
This category really doesn't need any explanation. It is an assessment by our judges as to whether an entry has the potential to be accepted for publication in a relevant magazine, book, anthology, etc (even if a little more spit and polish may be required). Know your target audience, and then write to suit that reader.
When it comes to the Challenge, this is where keeping to the guidelines will help. Entries do not need to be overtly Christian (you don't need to connect your entry to a Christian message); however, they should be suitable for most Christian readers. In other words, we aren't expecting a James Patterson-style short story (full of blood, extreme violence, and bad language). That may be publishable in the secular market, but not this market the Challenge is aimed at. (Having said that, James Patterson offers a lot of great advice for all writers regarding crafting.)
How exciting!!!! Thanks, Deb, Mike, and Bea! Faithwriters keeps getting better and better.
This is exciting. Will there be a form or some formal way we need to use to request our desire for the feedback reports before the next quarter starts?
Since we need to request before October 1st, is my commentary here sufficient that I want to participate? Also, with only three requests, how are the three entries chosen? Do we follow up to indicate which three to select or is it random by you?
Thanks for adding value to my critiques.
There will be a link on the Writing Challenge home page (I believe) that will direct you to a request form.
October 1 is the date the new quarter of the Challenge begins, but no reports will be available until after the first winners are announced. No reports will be available for the quarter just finished. If you are a Platinum member, you have everything you need to be involved.
Totally your decision, Judy. You select the three you want, but they must be from that specific quarter.
Hope that helps.
I appreciate all you do. It will help me greatly to receive feedback like provided from last year's non-fiction contest.
I am Platinum. Joined in 2006.
This sounds very good. Just a question. You stated:
Requests for reports on Editors’ Choice winning entries will not be accepted.
Does that mean that you cannot receive a report if your article was in the EC?
Thanks for all you all are doing on FW,
That's correct. With only two reports per quarter, It would be a waste to use it on one where you did well. Better to save it for the ones that didn't do as well as expected.
(Edited March 29)
I see the Request a Report form but nothing on it that indicates I want to participate in the upcoming quarter. The form is specific with topic and title.
Will we have a separate checkbox to indicate, Yes, I want to receive reports? Hope this makes sense.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine...
Facebook author page: Verna Cole Mitchell
Judy, unless I am misunderstanding, you don't need to indicate you want to participate for a particular quarter. Simply submit an entry, wait until it is judged, then fill out the form requesting a feedback report on that particular entry. And you can do this on up to three entries each quarter as a Platinum member.
Jo is right, Judy. You don't have to let us know. You are automatically eligible by being a Platinum member. When you have decided which entry you want to submit for feedback (starting with the next quarter), you fill in the form with the title. That's all you have to do.
The fact that you can access the form shows you are all set to go.
What is the anticipated turn around time for reports?
Depends how busy my week has been, Judy. First batch were very fast, but then I've had two weekends where I couldn't get near my computer. Planning to do the one on hand this afternoon, though. So hang in there. If you've put in a request, you should get it in the next day or so.
You are the best Deb.
You work tirelessly, and I appreciate all you do. I wasn't trying to rush you, merely wanted a general timeframe.
All the best,
I know you weren't, Judy. I was able to get two done last night. About four to go.
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