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In the Judgment Seat

May 13, 2020 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , ,
picture of dianna sinovic

From a Cabin in the Wood’s is a column featuring authors from the Bethlehem Writers Group. Writing for us this month is Dianna Sinovic.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna Sinovic has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

In the Judgment Seat

The Bethlehem Writers Group, one of the writers groups I’m in, sponsors an annual short story contest for all non-members, and the members do much of the judging—the first cuts, the semifinalist round, and the finalists. Once the finalists are selected, a guest judge (an author outside the organization) makes the final call on the rankings of first, second, and third.

Each story is judged by three people, using a templated rubric, with the two highest scores determining whether the story makes it to the semifinalist category. Sometimes the same story can accrue widely divergent scores. How could three readers have such different reactions? That difference of opinion explains why sometimes the debates the group has on which stories come out on top are quite heated.

I’m often amazed at the creativity of some of the entrants, but also always disappointed in others. I think—if only the author had done X, Y or Z, the results would have been much more satisfying or made more sense.

It’s also instructive to see how often an entry lacks a story arc. Even if a story is short and basically just one scene, it still needs a beginning, middle and end, with a goal in mind for the main character. Author Juliet Marillier said that stories with no proper ending also don’t make the cut when she judges.

It’s also interesting to see that some authors submit pieces that are mostly likely memoir. This can work if the personal account contains the essence of a good story, with that needed arc and depth of character/emotion, but many often don’t.

How the theme is approached is also eye opening. We choose a new contest theme every other year. This year’s topic was animals; it didn’t matter what kind of animal or how many, but an animal had to play an important part in the story. I read tales that featured insects, cats, horses, dogs, sea animals, and reptiles, some good, some not so good. With research only a browser click away, I was discouraged at how often writers didn’t do their homework when trying to depict animal behavior.

Of course, it’s much easier for me to see the flaws in other people’s works than in mine.

Each year’s judging process serves as a reminder to always ask others to read my work and offer their feedback, to let me know where my stories fall short so I can further revise.


Sweet, Funny, and Strange Anthologies Featuring Stories From The Bethlehem Writers Group’s Short Story Award

A READABLE FEAST

Buy now!
A READABLE FEAST

LET IT SNOW

Buy now!
LET IT SNOW

ONCE AROUND THE SUN

Buy now!
ONCE AROUND THE SUN

ONCE UPON A TIME

Buy now!
ONCE UPON A TIME
UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL
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Time Is Running Out

April 25, 2018 by in category Writing tagged as , , ,

Short Story Award | Bethlehem Writers Group | A Slice of Orange

 

Time is running out to enter the

The DEADLINE is APRIL 30, 2018
 
We are looking for unpublished stories 
of 2000 words or fewer on the theme of
 
 
Send us your sweet, funny or strange stories about wizards, clairvoyants, other-worldly creatures, vampires, werewolves, telekenetics, ghosts, goblins, witches, mediums, poltergeists, the supernatural, and other paranormal experiences.
Our 2018 Guest Judge 
Kimberly Brower of
Brower Literary & Management, Inc.
 
Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. She holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge, and received her JD from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Although she loves all things romance, she is also searching for books that are different and will surprise her, with empathetic characters and compelling stories. She takes great pride in her client list, from the debut authors to #1 NY Times bestsellers, and likes to consider them all her favorite authors. 
Connect on Twitter:  @KimberlyBroweror on their website: http://browerliterary.com 
For more information see Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Website.
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