Friday, August 20, 2010

On Judging A Short Story Competition

Just a quick post to give a link to Tania Hershman's Blog where she talks about her judging process (or How I read 849 Stories in Two Months) for the Sean O Faolain short Story Competition.

There are no authors or stories mentioned - it gives a really interesting inside view to what it is like to have to select winners from so many stories. In some competitions the submissions are read and filtered by a panel of other judges before the named judge reads them, but not in this case. Her advice to short story writers after her experience is -
"write only what you want to write. Write only what you have to write. If you get longlisted, well that means you caught the judge's eye. If you don't that means that the judge liked other kinds of stories. Don't be disheartened. Send it out again. I'm happy to be back to doing that myself. I just sent 6 stories in to 2 flash fiction competitions. Will my experience as a judge help when they fail to get anywhere? I'm not sure, it will still sting. But I'll just send them out again."
Tanias Blog

Tania has also compiled a list of UK and Irish publications for the short story, which is incredibly generous, you can read them here


Brigid said...

Niamh, thanks for posting that article, I found it really interesting.
I entered that competition so I live in hope, although something about how she described the winners made me feel I wasnt one of them.
I have saved the useful links for reference, great information.

niamh said...

@Brigid, yes its a really useful link, must have taken her some time to compile it, glad she did.
about the comp, you don't know Brigid, don't rule it out for yourself yet! I entered a story too, it's a retelling of an old mermaid myth about the selkies so when she said she didn't want stories that seemed familar or that she felt she'd heard already I guessed that ruled mine out! But of course the hope wont die till i read the short list, twice!

Old Kitty said...


Oh golly I love the list that Tania collates for potential homes for orphaned short stories! It's a brilliant list and one I always keep an eye out for!

It's great to read how short stories are chosen and listed from a judge's pov.

I always remind myself that my stories have failed to win or get longlisted because yes, they're not good enough but also maybe just maybe they weren't what the judges were looking for. I kind of like to have that to sugar my sourness whenever I fail miserably - because it makes the awful truth more palatable!! :-)

Take care

Niamh said...

@ Old Kitty - lol!My new mantra against sourness will be - "it wasnt what they were looking for" must go gather my orphans!

Niamh B said...

the article was interesting alright, can't wait to read her winners now!
I didn't enter this time, so can look forward to it without being all bitter and twisted if I don't get in!

Talli Roland said...

That's fantastic - thanks for the link, Niamh! Off to check it out.

Robert Guthrie said...

"Write only what you have to write." That's what gets us great writing.

Padraic Murray said...

Thanks for the link. Very interesting. Like Alice looking into a totally new world. Well done!

Theresa Milstein said...

It's so disheartening to submit our work, and then not to be chosen. But hearing her admit that it's not that the stories weren't good must make you feel better. Without feedback, I know I tend to think the worst.

Olive said...

Thanks also for including the link to the list of publications, that's invaluable.