Gee, here's a great topic. Errghhh!
Okay, so this week brought a lot of cheers and even more BIG SIGHS!
A lot of discussion within groups are centered around: But this one scored me very high and this one at the bottom of the heap! What gives?
Imagine going to a job interview:
"Do you have any experience? No? We can't hire you."
"But how do I get experience if you won't hire me?"
A rather large shoulder shrug. And therein lies part of the problem with finding new judges. We need to have new folks to judge, but they have to start somewhere and often have to learn merely by experience. And rarely get so much as a pat on the back for all the hard work.
Contests are increasing in size each year, and new judges are needed to replace those who are overworked, overtired, and fed up because they don't want to take any more complaints. It is discouraging to find such a diversity between judge #1 and judge #3, but we have judges from all genres, all different backgrounds, and all doing their best. I wish the organizations had mentoring programs for their new judges. That might help with some of the discrepancies.
But, all that being said, my money is still on the big, reputable contests. Where, for $20-$35 can we get a thorough breakdown (most of the time) on our first 15-20 pages of work? And from 2-5 different judges? This is money well spent.
We can't throw that crying baby out with the wash water. We need to glean what we can from the judges' comments. Take what we want, pitch the rest, but remember one thing before we complain: Editors and agents will be as diverse as the judges and so will readers and reviewers.
This won't be our last experience with criticism, not by a long shot.
Happy writing, happy contests!