Hopefully you count your blessings and take it very seriously when an organization asks you to be a judge for what? A writing contest? The thing you love most in the world? Woohoo!
And do you? Do you really take it seriously, or just go through the motions to be a good sport?
A writer takes a huge step when he or she places their work in your hands. They are, in essence, asking you to validate them as writers. Some are new to the task, some have been trying for years to break into the industry, and you hold their hopes before you.
Is it more important to you to encourage the writer or show them how much you think you know?
Don’t get me wrong. Holding a poor writer’s hand only goes so far. It’s difficult to keep saying, “Very interesting.” But there has to be something you can find that would encourage, uplift, or steer the writer in the right direction.
Ever had a judge return an entry like this?
Poorly written, no plot, no sense of reality. Your characters were cardboard. Dialogue stilted, and it looks like you wrote it with your feet. But good luck and I wish you the best.
How have you helped the author?
I’d recommend a strong crit group to help you find typos and errors that can be easily fixed once they’re recognized. Go deeper into the characters’ POVs so that the reader can connect with them and what they are going through. Dialogue should move the story along and with a bit of help, I think you can make your male characters come across with a more masculine touch without losing their sensitivity. You have a great start here and I encourage you to take as many online classes as you can to improve your writing skills until next time you’ll wow us with this novel.
You’ve said the same thing without the caustic bite that could eat into a writer’s delicate spirit. Yes, we all have to be thick-skinned, but the thick skin should come gradually, not in one huge makeover.
The blessing is yours when you’ve been asked to judge. No matter your background or ability, always give it your best. You’ll walk away with much more than the authors. You’ll walk away knowing that you cared about another human being.