Essay Writing Contest criteria for judging
Writers consider short stories a rewarding way to practice their craft.
Scholars trace the origin of the written short story to Egypt in about 3, 000 B.C., and even further back if oral tales are taken into account. Modern short stories are works of prose fiction that are shorter than novels and novellas. Several basic criteria are used in judging short stories.
- Technical Aspects
- Judges of short stories examine the technical aspects of the story, an elementary but significant step of the judging process. Technical aspects include spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and mechanics such as the proper use of capitalization, italics and abbreviations. In formal contests of short story writing, judges make sure that entrants do not exceed the maximum number of words. Most definitions of short stories place the maximum allowable number of words at 7, 000 to 10, 000, although some contests limit stories to as few as 2, 000 to 4, 000 words.
- Short story judges consider how much imagination and creativity the author used in writing the short story. They look at how original a short story is, or how much it stands out, grabs the reader's attention and presents new ideas compared to previously published short stories. An original, creative short story is one that reflects the author's style and vision in a vivid manner. Even if a new short story author is inspired by an established writer, he should still put his own original touches on his stories.
- Judges examining the plot and themes presented in a short story consider factors such as whether the plot is convincing and how much it draws the reader into the story's world. Judges also ask themselves whether they find the story suspenseful, compelling, thrilling or emotionally moving, depending on its themes. Short stories have smaller casts of characters than most novels, but the author should still make the characters and their thoughts and actions come alive on the page.
- Author Joyce Carol Oates has stated that one of the most significant parts in judging a short story is asking whether it achieves closure, which she defines as a situation in which when the story ends, the attentive reader understands why it is ending at that time. Even if a short story includes little in the way of traditional action, its ending should signal a change of some sort in the main character, a shift of consciousness or a deepening of insight.
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