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Judges

Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Category: GENERAL DISCUSSION
Forum Name: Creative Writing Corner
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Creative Writing Competitions or Creative Writing in general.
URL: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=32411
Printed Date: 23 Sep 2020 at 9:59pm
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Topic: Judges
Posted By: ConsideringLilies
Subject: Judges
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:05am
Hello, newbie here!

Does anyone who has been in the competition before know if you keep the same judge throughout the rounds or if you are rotated between them?

I know we won't have our results until later today, but I was curious if this competition lends itself to forming any kind of mentor relationship with the judge over time as they read more of your work. It'd be an interesting way to improve since they'd be seeing your work over time, although I can see where this could create complications when judging. For this reason, I'd assume we'd be placed with different judges each time, but I don't remember reading this anywhere.

On another note, do you know if the judges only stick to one genre/heat? I'd feel quite guilty if my judge had to read something like 30-60 horror stories in a row involving a pillow or something.
*Horror stories haunt me, so... I guess they do what they're supposed to?

Stay happy and healthy!

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Replies:
Posted By: nod1v1ng
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:24am

The judges rotate and they should be reading the stories blind, so even if you happen to get the same judge in another round, they shouldn't know it's you. 

And everyone in the same heat gets the same three judges. 


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Posted By: Random
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:34am
Originally posted by ConsideringLilies ConsideringLilies wrote:

I'd feel quite guilty if my judge had to read something like 30-60 horror stories in a row involving a pillow or something.
*Horror stories haunt me, so... I guess they do what they're supposed to?

Stay happy and healthy!


Reading sixty stories of any kind in a row would be horrible enough to seriously consider smothering myself with a pillow.  I've often wondered if there's a statistically significant correlation between ranking and the order in which the story was read.

Big smile


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Posted By: ConsideringLilies
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:46am
I knew it was blind, but I'd just assumed that writing styles might make it obvious eventually. I also didn't know that three different judges per heat.

Thanks a bunch!

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Posted By: ConsideringLilies
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:55am
Stay happy and healthy![/QUOTE]

Reading sixty stories of any kind in a row would be horrible enough to seriously consider smothering myself with a pillow.  I've often wondered if there's a statistically significant correlation between ranking and the order in which the story was read.

Big smile
[/QUOTE]

I believe it would be hard for it not to make a difference. I imagine it'd be almost impossible to separate each story from the others I had read before, good or bad.

Is all of the judging is subjective besides meeting the competition and heat guidelines (and grammar assumedly)?
A quantitative study of its affects would be difficult to look at since one story may affect all of the judges a different way. Ah, the beauty of the written word

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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 3:07pm
We can't even be sure the judges have the same numbers contest to contest. 

People DID catch one in the last FFC contest copy/pasting the same feedback to everyone. (That judge, we're told, was fired and people's scores got recalculated.) We have the Capitalization Fairy (who thinks if you're writing a fantasy story you're supposed to capitalize "Magic" and "Wizard" because they're 'archetypal words.') One judge (may be the same one) is pathologically fixated on the log line and critiques them more than the actual story sometimes. And it would be fair to have the impression from a lot of feedback that many judges are reading genres with which they're TOTALLY unfamiliar as far as the real-world market goes. Sci-fi and fantasy are particular victims of that type. 


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Posted By: Pajamas All Day
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 4:15pm
I didn't know about a judge who was copying/pasting but that would explain the comments I got from one judge. I questioned whether that person had even read my story based on their comments.

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Posted By: Random
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 4:22pm
Originally posted by Pajamas All Day Pajamas All Day wrote:

I didn't know about a judge who was copying/pasting but that would explain the comments I got from one judge. I questioned whether that person had even read my story based on their comments.


If it makes you feel any better "Did they even read my story" is an extremely common reaction.

After sixty stories the answer is probably yes, but the other 59 are still bouncing around and the judge is only one dangling participle away from insanity.  Even odds which direction.


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Posted By: Laurie
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 6:27pm
I once had a judge critique my piece because it was implied in the final scene that my character drove away in her car after getting drunk. The judge said I was setting a bad example for readers. Uhmm ... are they familiar with fiction? I wasn't writing a treatise on safe driving, for goodness sake. So frustrating ... 



Posted By: Seacore
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 7:27pm
I had a critique once that the judge didn't like that my MC thought his curse may have been caused by the devil.

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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 8:35pm
The takeaway is the real value here is the feedback in the forums and fwiw I've found that tends to correlate more with sales to real markets than the judges' feedback does. 

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FFC 2020 Ch 1 Gr 21: Cellared
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Posted By: Ammie
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:25pm
If the judges are reading too many stories to keep track of one from another, perhaps this contest is not as equitable as it should be??? Especially since there is a fee to join?

Where can we find the judges' feedback? Will they send that to us?




Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 31 Mar 2020 at 11:57pm
Originally posted by Ammie Ammie wrote:

If the judges are reading too many stories to keep track of one from another, perhaps this contest is not as equitable as it should be??? Especially since there is a fee to join?

Where can we find the judges' feedback? Will they send that to us?


Most of the judges do the best they can! Smile Your feedback will come in a separate email tomorrow or the next day! 


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Posted By: Random
Date Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 9:42pm
I'm going to reply to this one because my comments are more about the judges than their feedback.  I have to say since I started NYCM the judging has steadily improved, to the point where I can honestly say all three judges read the story and their review is, in my view, spot on.  The 'what I liked' was downright heartwarming, the 'what needs work' echoed what some others have said, and they added more areas I can improve on in the future.  That alone was worth the price of admission, because while the professional judging has improved, peer judging has not.

JMHO.  YMMV.  HTH. TIJABOL.  AYSR?


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Posted By: Ammie
Date Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 10:13pm
I received my feedback and found it useful. One judge interpreted my work politically (something about the me-too movement) which was unfortunate as it was not my intent. I hope that it was not this interpretation that lowered my score. 

As someone who has a good deal of judging experience, I know that one judge out of three, or even five, or even seven judges has the power to ensure that a contestant loses by deep sixing their score.  One time when I was the administrator over an essay contest, I noticed that 4 judges each gave this one student very high score yet one judge gave the student a surprisingly low score. I read the essay myself and saw that this essay was a well-written, impressive essay not worthy of a low score. As the administrator, I removed this judge. I felt that there was some sort of bias.

Recently, I had students who were participating in an elevator pitch. One of my students was superb. They were engaging, had a good idea, and had a smooth delivery without any flubs. Surely we believed that they would win. It is possible that seven judges gave this student high scores and one deep sixed them. Interestingly, this student won the audience favorite award. It is rare in this contest for a student to win audience favorite and not win the contest. We are guessing that there may have been some bias. But, unless we have access to the actual scores, we are left in the guessing game limbo.





Posted By: bookmama
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 6:32am
I found the judging very fair and helpful.
My first entry was last year where I came 1st in Heat 1 and nowhere in Heat 2. My heat 1 story was my favourite thing I have ever written and I loved it. My heat 2 story was rubbish!
This time I only got a HM but again I think it was fair and the feedback was very similar to the feedback I received on the forum when I posted the story too.


Posted By: fioOxf
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 8:25am
Originally posted by Ammie Ammie wrote:

I received my feedback and found it useful. One judge interpreted my work politically (something about the me-too movement) which was unfortunate as it was not my intent. I hope that it was not this interpretation that lowered my score. 


It used to say on the website what the different criteria for assessment were, but I can't find it right now. However, if you take into account three judges, points for format (ie font, wordcount etc), points for including the prompts, points for genre, points for spelling and grammar, points for structure (ie beginning, middle, end), points for character develop, for idea, and for plot - and divide all that across the three judges, it's unlikely that an interpretation like that affects very much. Besides, once points have been allocated, the entries in a heat are put in order and the top 5 go through - so you could, potentially, be first in a group but have a low score, if the rest were lower. You could also have a really high score, but be in a very strong group and so not go through. 

From experience, it's not worth overthinking it too much. I've done a few NYC Midnight competitions now, this is my second Short Story one, but my 8th NYC Midnight comp. I've learnt that it's like a game in that you have to find the way to play. You can be a very good writer but not progress to round 2 because, eg your stories aren't linear, for example, or because certain things are too subtle and judges miss them. However, I've also learned (and Jennifer Quail's comment earlier says something similar) that your forum feedback is likely to be more reliable in terms of audience/effect of your piece. So pay more attention to that, if you want to publish.

Not going through (or not getting an HM) can be tremendously disheartening (in 8 competitions this is my first time going through, I've had an HM before and come 6th and 7th in the ones that tell you the first 15 placed), and I've also had some eye-rollingly off-piste judges' comments (eg when a judge told me that 'deer don't scuttle' when the story was about rats, not deer; or another judge attempting to completely rewrite my short story last year, and wanting a secondary character to be the main character, and one of the main characters not to exist in the first place etc etc etc) BUT let it wash over you and then focus on the forum feedback, do any reworking based on consensus comments (or ignoring them...as you prefer) and try sending out your stories. You may take some punches in the guts along the way, but you'll come out having learned, honed your craft and met some very nice people into the bargain. 

And Jennifer Q is right. She often is. 


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Posted By: Suave
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 8:54am
Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

I'm going to reply to this one because my comments are more about the judges than their feedback.  I have to say since I started NYCM the judging has steadily improved, to the point where I can honestly say all three judges read the story and their review is, in my view, spot on.  The 'what I liked' was downright heartwarming, the 'what needs work' echoed what some others have said, and they added more areas I can improve on in the future.  That alone was worth the price of admission, because while the professional judging has improved, peer judging has not.

JMHO.  YMMV.  HTH. TIJABOL.  AYSR?


I will sure second that.  I can remember getting feedback that seemed to be for someone else's story.  And i don't think they ever got a nuance if you did not shout it out.
The feedback from the judges now is head and shoulders above anything you ever got from them before.
NYC Midnight has really stepped up in getting the judging working.


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Posted By: wbarr
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 11:32am
One of my judges wrote a whole paragraph critiquing my one-sentence summary of the story. So ... I guess those really count and are part of the score?

Good attention and advice from one of the three.


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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 11:41am
Originally posted by wbarr wbarr wrote:

One of my judges wrote a whole paragraph critiquing my one-sentence summary of the story. So ... I guess those really count and are part of the score?

Good attention and advice from one of the three.

Oh, god, is the guy with a log-line fetish still here? 

No, they're not, not least because in prose publishing you will never, ever, be asked to write a 'log line' (it's just a holdover from the screenplay competition) but that judge absolutely OBSESSES over them. 

Make sure you give judging feedback (the link's in your e-mail with the results) and one-star vote that guy, explaining why. Even if they're not using it for the numeric score it's the most useless thing they could tell you other than saying they liked the font you picked. At least I've never seen one do that.


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Posted By: tdeveau
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 11:59am
Originally posted by wbarr wbarr wrote:

One of my judges wrote a whole paragraph critiquing my one-sentence summary of the story. So ... I guess those really count and are part of the score?


If I had to guess, they are probably a screenwriter. Screenwriters (and screenwriting judges) put an absurd (IMO) emphasis on the importance of the log line.


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Posted By: wbarr
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 12:30pm
You are right! The judge even responded that they didn't understand a sentence referring to a commercial break -- "and I work in film," he/she wrote.'

It's a short story contest, not an elevator pitch contest. Seriously, a whole paragraph about the stupid tagline. Thanks.


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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 02 Apr 2020 at 6:17pm
Originally posted by wbarr wbarr wrote:

You are right! The judge even responded that they didn't understand a sentence referring to a commercial break -- "and I work in film," he/she wrote.'

It's a short story contest, not an elevator pitch contest. Seriously, a whole paragraph about the stupid tagline. Thanks.

Make sure you leave that judge one-star feedback. They do that EVERY time and there is no reason for them to be doing it. Log lines are not a prose-market thing. They either need to have their priorities reorganized or only judge Screenplay/SScreenplay.


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Posted By: MuffinMom
Date Posted: 03 Apr 2020 at 7:51pm
Originally posted by Random Random wrote:


Reading sixty stories of any kind in a row would be horrible enough to seriously consider smothering myself with a pillow.  I've often wondered if there's a statistically significant correlation between ranking and the order in which the story was read.

Big smile

I can tell you for sure that order definitely affects your ranking. It shouldn't, but judges are human. I once wrote three essays for college, in class, closed book, and that score made up 75% of my grade in the class. I got a C. I went to the TA who re-read the essays, and his comment was that I was right, my essays were very good, and he changed my grade to an A. He said that sometimes TA's grade these things until midnight and they all run together, and he apologized. I still think that was totally messed up.

Hopefully NYC Midnight judges would try to put a little more effort into judging than my TA for that class did, but there's still no guarantee when this contest is SO subjective!


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Posted By: Random
Date Posted: 03 Apr 2020 at 8:24pm
Originally posted by MuffinMom MuffinMom wrote:


I can tell you for sure that order definitely affects your ranking. It shouldn't, but judges are human. I once wrote three essays for college, in class, closed book, and that score made up 75% of my grade in the class. I got a C. I went to the TA who re-read the essays, and his comment was that I was right, my essays were very good, and he changed my grade to an A. He said that sometimes TA's grade these things until midnight and they all run together, and he apologized. I still think that was totally messed up.

Hopefully NYC Midnight judges would try to put a little more effort into judging than my TA for that class did, but there's still no guarantee when this contest is SO subjective!


Ya know...I should change my name from "Random Words" to "Random Annotations".  That puts me closer to the front in terms of last name/first name, and maybe closer to the front in reading order.  No idea if that would matter, but it's the only thing I can control.


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Posted By: Suave
Date Posted: 03 Apr 2020 at 11:37pm
Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

Originally posted by MuffinMom MuffinMom wrote:


I can tell you for sure that order definitely affects your ranking. It shouldn't, but judges are human. I once wrote three essays for college, in class, closed book, and that score made up 75% of my grade in the class. I got a C. I went to the TA who re-read the essays, and his comment was that I was right, my essays were very good, and he changed my grade to an A. He said that sometimes TA's grade these things until midnight and they all run together, and he apologized. I still think that was totally messed up.

Hopefully NYC Midnight judges would try to put a little more effort into judging than my TA for that class did, but there's still no guarantee when this contest is SO subjective!


Ya know...I should change my name from "Random Words" to "Random Annotations".  That puts me closer to the front in terms of last name/first name, and maybe closer to the front in reading order.  No idea if that would matter, but it's the only thing I can control.


You might do better just putting your credit card number at the bottom of the first page.


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Posted By: MuffinMom
Date Posted: 04 Apr 2020 at 9:59am
Originally posted by Suave Suave wrote:

Originally posted by Random Random wrote:

Originally posted by MuffinMom MuffinMom wrote:


I can tell you for sure that order definitely affects your ranking. It shouldn't, but judges are human. I once wrote three essays for college, in class, closed book, and that score made up 75% of my grade in the class. I got a C. I went to the TA who re-read the essays, and his comment was that I was right, my essays were very good, and he changed my grade to an A. He said that sometimes TA's grade these things until midnight and they all run together, and he apologized. I still think that was totally messed up.

Hopefully NYC Midnight judges would try to put a little more effort into judging than my TA for that class did, but there's still no guarantee when this contest is SO subjective!


Ya know...I should change my name from "Random Words" to "Random Annotations".  That puts me closer to the front in terms of last name/first name, and maybe closer to the front in reading order.  No idea if that would matter, but it's the only thing I can control.


You might do better just putting your credit card number at the bottom of the first page.

Ha! That's a good idea! Won't the judge be surprised, though, when they find out the credit card is maxed out?


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