The annual short story competition run by one of the writers’ circles I go to has just closed, and once again I’m staggered by the number of entrants who failed to read the rules. I just don’t understand it.
I deal with the administration of some of the entries before they are passed on to the judges, and part of that admin work involves checking that entrants have met all of the competition’s rules.
The two most commonly broken rules were:
Rule 1: Entries must not exceed 1200 words.
So why were we sent stories that were longer than 2500 words (some were nearly 4,000 words)? These entries were DISQUALIFIED. They had to be, in fairness to those entrants who had read and followed the rules.
Rule 16: Entries should not have the author’s name, or any other identifying marks, on the typescript.
Our judges read the stories ‘blind’ which means they do not know who has written them. This ensures each entry is judged on its merit, and not influenced by who wrote it. So when we say that entries should not have the author’s name on it, we mean it. Some entrants began their typescript with the title, followed by their name underneath. Some put their name and address at the end of their typescript. (And yes, even just an address is an identifying mark too.)
Again, in fairness to the entrants who had read and followed the rules, those who broke Rule 16 were DISQUALIFIED.
You might ask: Well, why can’t you just delete that information before you pass it onto the judge?And my answer is twofold: a) it’s not my bloody job to, and b) many other entrants were quite capable of doing this for themselves.
So please, the next time you enter a competition, read the effing rules and ABIDE BY THEM! There’s a reason competitions have rules. They’re not there just to make entrants’ lives difficult. Honestly!
And the sad fact is, I read the disqualified entries, and some of them are very good. But the judges won’t know that because they’ve not been passed on to the judging process. That’s what disqualification means.
The only person who loses out by not reading and adhering to the rules is the entrant.
And to those of you who did enter, and did abide by the rules, I would like to say: thank you for entering and …