JUDGE’S TIPS

Write Many Drafts

By Bronwyn Elsmore

I’ve judged a lot of writing competitions.

I am often surprised that some entrants don’t seem to have fully considered they are competing against all others.

Competitions have rules. For The Great Kiwi Write Off there is a word limit and a deadline. So not too many rules but make sure you follow the few there are.

Otherwise, what I look for is writing that is fresh in outlook, told in a tone and style suitable to the piece.

I look at the story arc – is there an effective beginning and ending, with the content in between leading in some way to the conclusion? This can be in the form of an introduction, middle and summary if it is non-fiction.

Is the characterisation consistent?

Dialogue can help establish and elaborate on a character. But it has be realistic and not long winded. It should move the story on.

I look for work that is free from errors of grammar and fact, and anything that takes the sheen off the writing.

Your first draft is just that – a first draft. There should be many more drafts

Polish your prose. Put it aside for awhile.

Reread and polish again.

Repeat the above steps as many times as necessary till you can’t improve it any more!

Enjoy the process.

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Stop me in my tracks

By Suraya Dewing

I want a story to stop me in my tracks.
I want to say, “Wow, that’s really cool, I never thought of things that way.”

I want the opening to make me curious, so curious I just have to keep reading to the end.

When a writer approaches their topic in a unique way by using an imaginative opening, I am immediately drawn in. When the writer surprises me by crafting great characters they have my full attention. I will care about the characters and want to know what happens to them.
For example, the winning story for the Year 5-6 category last year had a girl end up in a pickle jar while helping her mother. The transition from being in the kitchen to the pickle jar was totally believable. The author achieved that effect by keeping the story simple and using description well.
I almost believed it could happen.