Copyright © Indiana Romance Writers of America Revised February 20, 2017

Indiana Romance Writers of America, Inc.




Title of Entry:

Entry Code:

Judge Code:

Anticipated Word Count of Completed Manuscript:

Target Publishers:


Point System for Scoring

5 = Outstanding - ready for an editor
4 = Very few flaws, needs only minor tune-up
3 = Average
2 = Many problems/errors
1 = Major problems

PROFESSIONAL IMPACT: (Possible Score: 20 points)

1  Does the entry meet the category definition? (Score 1 or 5)

2  Does the entry follow the required format of this contest? Chapter titles/synopsis title 1/3 down on new page and 1-inch margins. Entry no longer than 55 pages. Standard page size 8 1/2 inches x 11 inches. (Coordinator scores 1 or 5)

3  Does the entry have correct indentation for paragraphs and use page breaks at the end of chapters? (Score 1 or 5)

4  Has the entry been proofread to eliminate formatting issues with extra spaces and lines? Single space at end of sentence.

READER’S INITIAL REACTION: (Possible Score: 15 points)

5  Does the book open in the right place, and does the opening reveal something important and/or hint at the story conflict?

6  Are the central character(s) introduced at an appropriate moment? Is this first appearance believable and intriguing?

7  Are the opening situation and introduction of characters presented in a clear manner, without unnecessary confusion? If some information is withheld for plotting purposes, is it done effectively?

WRITING MECHANICS/CRAFT: (Possible Score: 40 points)

8  Has the entry been proofread to eliminate grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors?

9  Is the first chapter compelling? Is there an intriguing hook? Does it make you want to continue reading?

10  Does the author use the senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste) appropriately to create a vivid experience?

11  Does the author show rather than tell?

12 Are the writing and the story active and not passive? If passivity is used, is it appropriate for the scene and unobtrusive?

13  Is the writing style clear and distinct with the appropriate use of adjectives and adverbs?

14  Do the scenes flow smoothly? Is the manuscript well paced?

15  Does the entry avoid backstory and information dumps?


16  Do the protagonists have plausible personality traits and values, and exhibit a range of believable emotions?

17  Are they active characters? Do their actions affect the course of the plot?

18  Are the characters likeable?

19  Do the characters have an intriguing uniqueness?

20  Do they interact realistically with each other and the other characters?

21  Is the romantic relationship believable?

SECONDARY CHARACTERS: (Possible Score: 20 points)

22  Are the secondary characters all necessary to the story? Do they play essential roles?

23  Is each secondary character well defined and distinctive?

24  Do the actions of the secondary characters have an effect on the plot?

25  Are their interactions with the main characters plausible?

CONFLICT AND MOTIVATION: (Possible Score: 25 points)

26  Do the motivations of the character(s) create genuine conflict, not contrived or forced?

27  Are the internal conflicts strong enough to carry a story of this type and length?

28  Are the external conflicts strong enough to carry a story of this type and length?

29  Do the conflicts challenge the romantic characters, show sexual tension, and growth into love?

30  Do you see the conflict and suspense rising in an effective way as the story goes on and resolving plausibly at the end?

PLOT: (Possible Score: 15 points)

31  Do the paranormal elements work without expecting the reader to work too hard to suspend belief?

32  Are the story events believable, even if they are extreme in some way? Is the plot free of logic lapses?

33  Does the plot promise to develop as a comprehensive whole, and not just a series of episodes without much linkage?

POINT OF VIEW: (Possible Score: 15 points)

34  Do the choices of particular POV characters (rather than another character’s POV) for each passage or scene enhance the story?

35  Does the overall POV (1st person vs. 3rd person) effectively enhance and contribute to the narrative of the story?

36  Is the entry free of headhopping? Are POV transitions necessary, clear, and smooth?

SETTING: (Possible Score: 10 points)

37  Are the paranormal elements integrated well into the story?

38  Does the setting add depth and/or conflict to the experience and journey of the protagonists?

DIALOGUE: (Possible Score: 30 points)

39  Does each person have a distinct voice that reflects his/her unique person? Is the dialogue appropriate for the time and place of the story?

40  Is the exposition (information transfer) in dialogue natural to the speaker and situation?

41  Do the dialogue passages effectively use paragraph length, placement and type of dialogue and action tags, and punctuation?

42  Do the dialogue passages effectively use vocal idiosyncrasies (like sentence fragments), word choice, voice, and introspection to create a conversation experience both inside and outside the quotation marks?

43  Does the dialogue move the story forward and cause plot changes?

44  Do the conversations reveal and change the romantic relationship?

SYNOPSIS: (Possible Score: 40 points)

45  Is the synopsis presented in an acceptable format, clearly defining the period, situation, and locale of the story free of obvious research errors?

46  Does the synopsis present a plot of complexity for the anticipated total word count of the story?

47  Does the synopsis tell the plot in a clear and smooth chronological fashion, with the cause-and-effect dynamic of events identified?

48  Does the synopsis clearly show the actions of the major characters and how they affect the plot?

49  Does the synopsis answer all the questions the reader might have about the plot? Does the ending answer the story questions?

50  Is there a presentation of the emotional cause and effect of the story events?

51  Are the characters, their motivations, and their conflicts and goals clearly defined in the synopsis?

52  Does the synopsis make you want to read the rest of the book?

In the event of a tie score, the entry with the highest score in “Synopsis” will be declared the winner. If both entries have a tie score in this category, the entry with the highest score in “Writing Mechanics/Craft” will be declared the winner.

If I were judging this entry in the Golden Heart, I would give it a _____.

(Score based on scale of 1.0 - 10.0 with 10 being highest. Decimal points can be used.)

Judge Experience

Check all that apply.

Published in paranormal romance
Published in other romance
Published in non-romance fiction RWA PAN
RWA contest finalist/winner
RWA Golden Heart/RITA finalist/winner

Judge’s Comments:

Copyright © Indiana Romance Writers of America Revised February 20, 2017