Judging the 19 entries in the local Summer Writing Contest was not only entertaining but educational as five members of the writing group I moderate went through the entries.
A surprisingly high level of achievement appeared as we tried to measure each entry against four criteria:
• Characterization: Are the characters well-rounded, developed?
• Plotting: Did the author begin, develop and end the story capably?
• Concept: Are there new ideas, strong imagination, or high levels of insight?
• Writing Ability: Does author show a good command of language?
My matrix—judging each criterion from a “1” (needs work) to a “4” (excellent)—revealed remarkable ability. Not one entry scored lower than a 10. In fact, four entries scored 15s, and three scored 14s—testimony either to the scholastic abilities or personal interests in writing of these young people.
Writing is the art form that most precisely allows a person to express his or her feelings and response to the world. Secondly, people write in order to truly communicate, to reach out in the hopes that another person will say, “Yes! I understand completely what you’re trying to say or how you interpret the world.” To have 9- to 12-year old writing at this high caliber is a joyous experience.
Of course, there were entries that seemed to be right out of a comic book or video game. These are kids! But others believed in magic. One—our first place choice—showed expression and communication in an outstanding way. It was an epistolary piece telling his absentee father that the boy would be a success in spite of the missing dad.
I wish I could’ve written like that when I was in grade school. My hat’s off to these kids. I'm looking forward to meeting them at the ice-cream-and-awards program next week.