The Vivian Contest Scoring

There are three rounds of judging in the Vivian Contest. Below are how entries in each round will be scored.

 

Round One Scoring

  • The purpose of this first round is to establish a minimum standard for submissions.

  • Round One will have three judges per entry.

  • Although the judges will receive the entire work, they will be instructed to read only Chapter One (or the Prologue and Chapter One if a prologue is present) and answer five yes/no questions.

  • Each entry will receive a total of 15 answers (five yes/no answers times three judges). Every entry that receives seven or more 'yes' answers will progress to Round Two.

Opening

A compelling opening grabs the reader's attention from the first paragraphs and makes them want to turn the page.

1. Is the opening compelling?

Characters, Plot, and Dialogue

Skilled elements include clearly-defined characters, plot elements that draw the reader into the set-up, and dialogue which supports the story and is realistic to the characters.

2. Does the work show skill in character, plot, and/or dialogue, if present?

Authorial Voice

A strong authorial voice communicates with vivid word choices and lively language.

3. Is the writing dynamic and the voice distinct?

Mechanics

Well-edited prose contains minimal errors in spelling and grammar to disrupt the flow of the story. Deliberate colloquial or stylistic choices (including intentional mis-spellings) do not count as errors.

4. Does the prose contain minimal (no more than 5) errors in spelling and grammar?

Overall Impression

5. Would readers want to read more?


Vivian Contest: Round Two Scoring

  • Round Two will have five judges per entry.

  • The judges will read the entire book and assign scores according to the rubric.

  • There are 10 areas to be scored per entry, plus a tie-breaker question. The scores for each area will be combined and the entry will receive a score of between 10-100 from each judge. The highest and lowest scores per entry will be dropped. Finalists will be determined based on the average of the remaining three scores.

  • The top scoring 5% of each categories’ entries based on the number of qualified entries received will advance to the Round Three/the final round, excepting that no category will have more than 10 finalists. Any fraction will be rounded up to the next whole number, not to exceed 10 finalists. However, no entry receiving less than 85% of the total possible score will advance to the next round.

Opening

A compelling opening grabs the reader's attention from the first paragraphs and makes them want to turn the page, drawing the reader in with intrigue and/or emotion.

9-10: Opening immediately grabs and holds the attention of the reader.
7-8: Opening engages the reader on many levels.
5-6: Opening interests the reader.
3-4: Opening somewhat interests the reader.
1-2: Opening fails to grab the attention of the reader

Characters

Well-developed characters don't contain stereotypical, cliched, or one-dimensional elements. Their internal and external lives engage the sympathy of the reader, and their actions are consistent with their personalities. Use of character point-of-view conveys the tone and emotion of the story.

9-10: Main characters are well-defined, and not stereotypical. The reader understands their traits and their flaws, and roots for them to grow and change over the course of the book. Their goals and motivations add to compelling narrative conflict.
7-8: Main characters are well-defined, with multi-dimensional internal and/or external lives. The reader engages with the distinct emotional journeys they take over the course of the book.
5-6: Characters are nicely developed and described, with both internal and external lives that are multidimensional and not reliant on stereotypes. Their goals and motivations create conflict that is not contrived.
3-4: It is hard for the reader to get a feel for the main characters. Characteristics aren't multi-dimensional or aren't well thought out, leading to unclear or inconsistent goals, motivations, or conflicts.
1-2: Main characters are underdeveloped, or they are described inconsistently or using stereotypes. Their journeys are not important to the reader, or the conflicts tied to them are contrived.

Romance and Plot

An original, fresh plot is skillfully set up and believable (or the reader is able to suspend disbelief). Plot and conflict are realistic and not easily resolved. Plot is sufficiently complex to sustain the story, and is made stronger by compelling characterization. Romance is interwoven with the plot.

9-10: The romance and plot are skillfully set up. Conflict is realistic, fresh, and not easily resolved. Character goals and motivations are integral to moving the plot forward. There are no moments when the reader does not easily suspend disbelief.
7-8: There are minimal concerns in the development of the romance or plot. There are few moments when the reader does not easily suspend disbelief. Character goals and motivations enhance the plot's forward momentum.
5-6: The plot and romance don’t contain fresh elements or intriguing spins on tropes. Character goals and motivations may not be integral to moving the plot forward.
3-4: The plot and romance contain inconsistencies, are confusing, or are unbelievable. Character arcs, romantic arcs, and plot arcs are not integrated.  
1-2: The plot is weary, unclear, overdone, or cliched. Conflict does not arise from characterization or is too easily resolved. Romance does not progress in a meaningful way.

Climax

Believable conflict keeps the main characters apart while they work towards goals the reader can identify. These stakes build to a strong climax or final turning point, and to a satisfying resolution, or to the unification of story elements.

9-10: The climax of the story is extremely detailed and the reader wants to read on for the ending.
7-8: The climax is detailed and the reader is invested in the resolution of all plot elements.
5-6: The climax is fairly detailed, leaving the reader somewhat interested in the outcome.
3-4: The climax of the story has few details and leaves the reader with questions about what happened, or there are unresolved plot elements.
1-2: The stakes of the story are weak, or the climax of the story is unclear.

Pacing

The balance of dialogue, exposition, and action keep the story moving forward in a well-paced book. The story flows well, and every scene is essential. Back story is well integrated without slowing the pace.

9-10: Story grabs the reader's attention throughout, with smooth scene transitions and a genre-appropriate balance of dialogue, action, and exposition. The romance progresses hand-in-hand with the wider storyline.
7-8: Dialogue, action, and exposition are genre-appropriate. Scenes are essential to the story. The romance and the storyline work together to hold the reader's attention.
5-6: Dialogue, action, and exposition are genre-appropriate. Scenes are necessary to the story.
3-4: Back story is poorly integrated. Extraneous scenes sometimes disrupt the reading experience.
1-2: Story has a poor balance between dialogue, action, back story, and exposition. Extraneous scenes and rough transitions disrupt the reading experience.

Dialogue

Strong dialogue enhances characterization, plot, and emotion when it is distinct and realistic for each character. It reveals new information to the reader.

9-10: Compelling dialogue that shows great skill in conveying tone and emotion. Each character's diction and voice are distinct.
7-8: Dialogue sparks reader interest. The dialogue distinguishes the characters and reflects their emotional and story arcs.
5-6: Dialogue and dialogue tags successfully advance character and story.
3-4: The dialogue can be indistinct, stilted, unrealistic, or repetitive. Dialogue tags aren’t used appropriately.
1-2: The dialogue slows and confuses the story. The characters' voices are not distinct. The dialogue and exposition are not well-balanced.

World Building

The world of the story is clearly defined and complete, but not intrusive. The story's sense of time and place is built with consistent details and appropriate research. A multi-dimensional array of side characters appear as needed to enhance the story and fill out the world.

9-10: The world is vibrant, consistent, and clear; grounded in sensory details that enhance the impact of the story.
7-8: World-building details are consistent, with some emotional impact on the story.
5-6: The world of the story leaves the reader occasionally ungrounded. Details don't add significantly to the impact of the story.
3-4: The world of the story is adrift in time or space, or has rote and dry details.
1-2: The world of the story lacks detail, or the details are contradictory and confusing. The setting lacks depth and color, or it intrudes disruptively into the story.

Authorial Voice

A clear authorial voice exhibits strong and varied word choices and uses language to enhance the narrative.

9-10: Authorial voice is clear and interesting. The writing is lively, expressive, and engaging. Word choice is vivid, precise, and inclusive, steering clear of clichés and stereotypes.
7-8: Authorial voice is consistent, and distinct. The writing is fluid and engaging, with varied word choice, and steers clear of clichés and stereotypes.
5-6: Authorial voice is clear. The writing is fluid and readable, with somewhat varied word choice, and steers clear of clichés and stereotypes.
3-4: Authorial voice is not distinct or consistent. Many areas could have benefitted from better word choice and/or eradication of clichés or stereotypes.
1-2: Authorial voice is not unique or is not apparent. Word choice is not varied or precise. Language is cliched and/or perpetuates stereotypes.

Mechanics

Varied sentence structure, consistent grammar, and a story free of spelling errors enhance the flow of reading. Deliberate colloquial or stylistic choices (including intentional mis-spellings) do not count as errors.

9-10: Sentence structures enhance the pace and voice, adding depth to character and action; few/no errors in spelling or grammar.
7-8: Exhibits a good mix of sentence structures, and only minor errors in spelling or grammar.
5-6: Sentences are somewhat varied, with simple, compound, and complex sentences; some errors in spelling or grammar.
3-4: Sentence structure is unvaried, many beginning the same way. Spelling or grammar errors disrupt the reading flow.
1-2: Sentence structure needs improvement; there is little to no variety in sentence style. Writing has frequent spelling or grammar errors.

Overall Impression

In a strong book, the writing is vivid, evocative, and appropriate to the genre, and the reader is invested, eager to know what happens next. A Happily Ever After ending is defined as the main characters risking and struggling for each other and their relationship, and being rewarded with the resolution of conflicts, emotional justice and unconditional love. A Happily For Now ending is defined as the main characters risking and struggling for each other and their relationship, and being rewarded with the temporary resolution of conflicts, and the promise of emotional justice and unconditional love.  

9-10: The reader is engrossed and eager to read the entire book throughout. The romance concludes with happily ever after / happily for now.
7-8: The book is emotionally satisfying. The romance concludes with happily ever after / happily for now.
5-6: The major conflict has been adequately resolved, but the ending is not entirely satisfying. The romance concludes with happily ever after / happily for now.
3-4: The reader is not engaged with one or more major elements of the book. The romance may or may not conclude with happily ever after / happily for now.
1-2: The reader is not engaged with several major elements of the book. The romance may or may not conclude with happily ever after / happily for now.

 

Vivian Contest: Round Three Scoring

  • Round Three will have five judges per entry.

  • The judges will read each finalist book in the category they are judging and assign scores according to the rubric.

  • There are five areas to be scored per entry, plus a tie-breaker question. Each entry will receive a score of between 5-25 from each judge. The highest and lowest scores per entry will be dropped. The remaining scores will be combined, and the winners will be determined by the cumulative highest score.

Characters

Main and side characters should be multidimensional and not stereotypical. Main characters should have clear goals and motivations which add to narrative conflict.

5: Main characters are fully realized, unique, and compelling, with distinct narrative voices. Character point-of-view engages reader sympathy, greatly enhancing the emotional arc of the narrative. Side characters add interest and resonance to the main characters' journeys.  
4: Characters are fully realized and distinctive, with unique emotional arcs.
3: Characters are well-developed and consistent.
2: Character development is consistent with goals and motivations, but is predictable.
1: Character development is inconsistent, or one-dimensional. Goals or motivations are contrived. 

Romance and Plot

Plot and romance are skillfully set up and believable (or the reader is able to suspend disbelief). Each scene is essential.

5: The plot and romance are skillfully set up and consistent with the genre, while still being original and unexpected. Character goals and motivations are integral to moving the plot forward. The romance progresses hand-in-hand with the wider storyline. Each scene is essential.
4: The plot and romance fit genre expectations while containing original twists. The progress of the romance is essential to moving the plot forward. All scenes are essential.
3: Character moments and plot elements enhance the story's forward momentum. The romance and the storyline work together to hold the reader's attention.  All scenes are essential.
2: The plot and romance do not contain fresh elements or intriguing spins on tropes. Character goals and motivations may not be integral to moving the plot forward.
1: The plot and romance are cliched, too easily resolved, or contain holes. Character arcs and plot arcs are not integrated.
 

Conflict and Climax

Believable conflict keeps the main characters apart while they work towards clear, understandable goals. These stakes build to a strong climax or final turning point, and to a satisfying resolution, or to the unification of story elements.

5: The conflict is strongly integrated with the character arcs, containing intriguing details that keep the reader invested in the climax and resolution.
4: The conflict builds naturally and believably from the character arcs to a well-detailed climax and resolution.
3: The conflict builds naturally from the character arcs. The climax details are engaging.
2: The conflict builds to a somewhat detailed and interesting climax.
1: The conflict is incompletely or too easily resolved, leading to a weak climax.

World Building

The world of the story is clearly defined and complete, but not intrusive. The story's sense of time and place is built with consistent details and appropriate research.

5: The world is vibrant, consistent, and clear, grounded in sensory details that enhance the impact of the story.
4: The world is complex and unique, with details that contribute to the emotional and narrative impact of the story.
3: World-building details are consistent, with some emotional impact on the story.
2: The world of the story contains details that do not add significantly to the impact of the story.
1: The world of the story contains dry or confusing details that leave the reader ungrounded.

Authorial Voice

A clear authorial voice exhibits strong and varied word choices and uses fresh, non-cliched language to enhance the narrative.

5: Authorial voice is unique and interesting, with a clear point of view and strong control of mechanics. The writing is lively, expressive, and engaging. Word choice is vivid, precise, and inclusive, steering clear of clichés and stereotypes.
4: Authorial voice is clear, consistent, and distinctive. The writing is fluid and engaging, with strong word choice, and steers clear of clichés and stereotypes.
3: Authorial voice is clear. The writing is fluid, with somewhat varied word choice.
2: Authorial voice is consistent and readable.
1: Authorial voice would improve with stronger word choices and/or eradication of clichés.