My experience as a writing competition adjudicator….

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I have just spent a relaxing few days in Crieff Hydro over half term break and have used the time to finish off adjudications that I am doing for the Angus Writers’ Circle flash fiction competition.  I have never adjudicated a competition before and I was a little hesitant to take it on at first as I wondered whether I was qualified enough to do it.  However, I am now very glad that I agreed to it as I have found the exercise to be quite an eye opener into just how involved and subjective these type of processes are, and I have also learnt a lot about what I like and don’t like quite so much in terms of writing style, which I’m sure I can also apply to my own writing.

Having entered a fair few writing competitions myself over the past couple of years, whether it be for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Annual Conference, or ones with my writing group, I have heard a lot of adjudicators say that it was difficult to come up with a final 3 (or 4 or 5) and that their top entries moved around a lot before they finally decided on the outcome.  Part of me used to just think that they were simply being polite/encouraging/motivational etc., however I can now totally see where they were coming from!  I have chosen a first, second and third place, with one highly commended and one commended entry and I think I am now fairly sure which entries will be in my top 5, but even now they are still moving around and it is very difficult to make a final decision and to just stick to it.

I read them when I first received them just before Christmas and have re-read them all a number of times since then.  I thought I had eventually cracked it, but then when I started to type up my comments for the various entries it made me look at them again in even closer detail (not just as a reader, but also as a writer), and things changed yet again.  It is also fair to say that most of the entries had something I liked, even if there were other parts of them that I was not quite so keen on, so the next time I am on the other side of an adjudication, I will have a far greater appreciation of just what is involved.

As for the outcome, I am due to give my verdicts this coming Wednesday and just hope that I will make the right choices.  However I think I feel more exposed than those who entered the competition in the first place! 🙂

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