Meta Monday: Scoring Stories


SPN 12.10: I’ll watch this one over and over!

Despite the ongoing political drama, I found lots of things to be happy about this past week. Gaga killed it at the Super Bowl—and I loved the Schuyler Sisters too. And, even though I’m not a fan of either team, that was an exciting second half!

Supernatural gave us an episode that felt like an apology to Destiel fans: “We’re sorry for refusing to make this ship canon. No, we’re not going to fix that—but here’s a whole hour of Dean and Cas acting like an old married couple.” (One person on my Twitter feed said she wished she could tattoo the entire episode to her forehead. I share that sentiment.)

I even ran a game for my RPG group—and it didn’t completely suck. Mostly, but not completely. So maybe I’m improving as a DM.

And then there was the short story contest over at LegendFire. That was a positive experience too. I’m very happy with my story, and grateful for all the excellent critiques I received. My only issue—well, it’s not really an issue, because I don’t think it’s something that should be fixed. Hmm. Let’s call it a difficulty. Yes. My only difficulty was the scoring.

The way the contest works, every contestant must critique and score a given number of entries. There’s a technical score (from 1-10), an artistic score (again from 1-10), and then up to 2 bonus points for prompt use. Once you take the average of the technical and artistic scores and add the bonus points, you’ll end up with a total between 1  and 12.

I’m fine with critiquing other stories. I talk about what worked for me and didn’t work for me as far as character, plot and pacing go. I look at SPAG issues and word choice and transitions and such. But I freeze when it comes to scoring.

I hate scoring. I especially hate scoring stories that just aren’t my thing. How do you grade something when you know you’re not the target audience? And even if the story is my thing, I still hate scoring it.

Assigning actual numbers to the technical and artistic prowess of a story seems too . . . I don’t know. Too analytical, I guess. Or maybe too arrogant, in my case. The critiques seem like just my opinion. But once I write down a score, I feel like I’m saying, “This is an accurate reflection of the objective worth of your story.”

But of course it’s no such thing. My scoring is just as subjective as my critiques. Sigh.

How do you handle scoring stories or novels—whether for a contest or a Goodreads review? What criteria do you use? How do you feel about the whole issue of scoring? Does it stress you out too, or do you enjoy grading? Let me know in the comments!

About Jenn Moss

Author * Web Serialist * Virtual Addict
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4 Responses to Meta Monday: Scoring Stories

  1. I struggle with this, especially if I find issues. I want to give everyone good scores, knowing how hard it is to fill a blank page, and yet, they aren’t all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joan Enoch says:

    I don’t like scoring systems. How do you put a number on something that is an aesthetic experience? You like something – you can say so, and why. It is an art, giving an opinion, or even a ‘critique’ on something that is artistic. But how can a bunch of numbers allotted to someone’s endeavour say anything that is useful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenn Moss says:

      Yeah, that’s how I feel. I mean, the contest is fun and I understand that it requires a scoring system. But, yes. The critiques feel natural–sometimes I like doing them, sometimes I don’t (like when I’m clearly not the target audience for a given story), but I can always show through my words that this is my subjective opinion. The numbers, though–it’s just not the same! Not sure what they say in the end.


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