rcloenen_ruiz (rcloenen_ruiz) wrote,

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Reading for the Paul Harland Prize

While I'm officially banned from the internets for the duration of our family vacation (a rule I've been allowed to break for short periods), I've been reading books and reading the entries for the Paul Harland Prize. Giving grades to stories has never been my strong point. People I've critted on the Online Writing Workshop can attest to this. I've also never been big on giving grammar crits (except when something jumps out and really smacks me in the face as). So, if the Paul Harland entrants expect me to tell them when a sentence is properly constructed or not, they might be disappointed with my reading and my crits. What I do and this is where I do feel I am good at: is give crits on the story itself. I like to ask questions about the story more because I wonder why the author chooses to make use of certain stuff instead of other stuff.

I'm not going to give away much here, but say a writer chooses to make use of a certain trope. Say that it's a well-used trope. Say that it's a trope that's been done, time and time again. I'm very likely to pass on this unless the writer gives me a compelling reason to give this story a high rating.

I'm bound to ask questions. Why does the writer choose to use a certain triggering incident? Why not another? I'm particularly interested in the "why" if the writer shows a strong voice and yet fails in the delivery. 

I've also realized that like editors out there, I am also rooting for writers to give me the story that I can't pass on because it has grabbed my imagination and my emotion that much.

So, what can the writers of the Paul Harland Prize expect from me? Well, even if you don't get the pass, I'll tell you what works for me and what doesn't. I'm going to ask questions and then I'm going to tell you why I'm not giving this story a grade that will push it on to the next round. What I hope to see writers do with this criticque is the same thing I've been doing with crits and rejections all of my writing life: take that crit, apply it to your next story, try harder, be more critical of your own work, open yourself up for criticism, and then go on to write a winning story that will knock off a reader's socks any day.
Tags: paul harland prize, reading

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