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Competitions: Enter early and win

Updated: Apr 21, 2018

Here at Grindstone, we see a big surge of entries leading up to deadline day. Some people even leave it until the last hour or so to get in right before we shut the competition. And it’s likely more people than you’d think.

We’ve done a little research on this, and there are a few likely reasons. These are namely that entrants believe that if they’re the last through the gate, that they’ll be one of the last to be judged, and therefore leave a more memorable impact on the judges as they go into the shortlisting phase. Or, it’s simply that they’re trying to give themselves as much time as possible before entering.

But, we don’t really understand why that is. We know, ourselves, that leaving things until the last minute, and putting ourselves under pressure to proof and edit leading upto a deadline is a surefire way to miss an easy mistake or bungle a line edit with no time to re-read.

So, with this in mind, we’d just like to offer our two cents on the matter.

Creative Writing Advice for Writers
Time will tell.

1. Our Judges don’t judge every entry after the deadline. Because we have an influx at the end, we do have to judge following the deadline, sure. But, with our new system, judging opens before the deadline has passed, and our judges can effectively judge as the entries come in. Because the judges can’t see the entry records, they have no way of telling who has entered, or whose entry their judging, so it’s still perfectly anonymised. And, on top of that, because the judges aren’t under the gun in terms of the announcement deadlines, they can really take their time on the work. We take every measure possible to make sure that their feedback and scoring is as meticulous as possible, but when they’ve got breathing room, and not a big stack of entries to work through, then they can really settle in and fall in love with your writing.

2. The entries are randomised. Because entrants put in pieces of work consecutively, you’d likely think that those pieces will be displayed consecutively for our judges. But, because we want to provide as varied a service as we can to you, and give your work every opportunity to strike the right chords, we completely randomise the order of our entries pool. That means that if you enter two pieces, you’ll quite likely get two different judges weighing in.

3. Entries that are entered last don’t get judged last. Because of the randomising, it may be an entry that was entered weeks before the deadline that is the last to be judged.

4. Because we score across a set of metrics, weighing up the individual merit of each piece on a set of scoring scales, being judged first or last doesn’t matter. Pieces that lose points in the scoring - which is due either to spelling and grammar issues, structural errors, plot holes, character problems, excess exposition or description for the sake of it, overwriting, underwriting, general lack of care, or anything else that prevents the piece from functioning properly - will rank lower. But, following the completion of the judging, we compile the shortlist from the top third of the scoreboard. That means that we whittle our shortlist out of a large group of entries, selecting the pieces we feel stand out by way of majority vote. This two stage process eliminates any in-the-moment favouritism, and effectively eliminates the need to enter last with the hopes of being judged last.

5. Sometimes, people don’t realise when the deadline is, and miss it. Once our competitions close, they are closed. That’s it. They’re open for months, so if your reason for missing the deadline is that you didn’t count the time zone difference right, then we can’t make an exception. It has to be a hard and fast rule for everyone. All of our competitions close on the same date every month, at the same time. The 28th, at midnight. We actually let them run on a few hours to catch any stragglers, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. But if you’re emailing us three days after the deadline saying you had the wrong date, there’s nothing we can do. All we can recommend is that you get your entry in early.

If you do, then it’ll be scored, judged, and put aside until the judging is complete, at which point it will be considered fully by our judges for the shortlist.

Proofing and editing should be of utmost importance, regardless of whether its hours or weeks to the closing date. Get your entries in early, and give yourself peace of mind.

And, if another idea comes to you in the interim, then heck, why not enter that too? The worst that can happen is that you get some more writing advice, another chance at the shortlist, and another chance at publication.

Did you know that several authors had more than one piece published in our 2017 Anthology? And that several Authors who were published last year have already won more publications this year? Just because you place on a shortlist once, doesn’t mean your excluded from placing on another. We reward good writing where we see it, and we’re always happy to see our shortlisters and placers making a return to the winners circle.

So, get editing, get proofing, and get entering. You can rely on us to provide the same high quality service we always do, regardless of whether you send your work to us on deadline day or not.

Everything’s fair at Grindstone - you can always count on that.

Until next time,


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