One of the things I love about reading other people’s work is what I learn from it.
So, last year, when I was asked to be one of the judges for a prose competition, I said yes. The competition guidelines listed the areas we were to rank on a scored number system—things like characterization, setting, dialogue, point of view, etc.
Of the twenty or so submissions I read, there were a variety of stories—from a gothic, steampunk, coming-of-age story to a memoir about losing one’s memory in the aging process.
A few submissions stood out above the others like the shiny, bright agates my cousin and I would hunt for on the beaches of our childhood. These submissions wove all aspects of good writing and storytelling together into a whole that hooked my interest from the first line and never let go.
The majority of the submissions fell somewhere in the middle of the pile—not to be rude—but what I might call “mediocre land.” They weren’t poorly written but they didn’t grab ahold of me and say, “Read this, now!” In fact, in many cases, I couldn’t wait for the story to be over because I was bored.
So, what did I learn? Read more