The last couple of weeks, I’ve been volunteering as a reader for the first round of judging of the youth division of the Write Michigan contest. Part of the youth division at any rate; I know there were more also reading stories from the youth division.
Write Michigan is an annual short-story competition for residents of the state of Michigan. It’s hosted by Kent District Library and Schuler Books & Music. The guidelines are fairly simple – stories must be no more than 3000 words and must be original. They have categories for Youth (11 and under), Teen (12-17) and Adults (18 and older).
This is the first year I’ve participated in the reviewing process for this contest, though earlier in 2016, I helped out with the first round of reviews for the two short story contests that my library (Ann Arbor District Library) hosts each year.
I find participating in these short story contests to be a lot of fun. You get to read a certain amount of stories (depending on how many entries) and do a review on them. Write Michigan provides a rating rubric to use as a guideline, though I did find it less helpful for working with the Youth category of stories. Most youth, even the 10 and 11 year olds don’t know a lot about making a character complex and the likelihood of spelling and grammar mistakes is higher. Nonetheless, a rubric they do provide as a backbone for your reviewing.
Some of the stories I got this time around were terrific. They were well-written, had excellent plot lines, and were fun to read. Some of them, not so much, but you could tell it was a solid effort. Then there were several that I felt would be incredible stories if they were just a bit longer. The plot lines were great and I was enjoying them immensely, but then they ended far too soon.
It’s always kind of the “luck of the draw” as far as what types of stories you receive in the batch you’re given, but I’ve always found at least one that I truly like in them. If you’re interested in doing something similar, check with your local library or historical society and see if they have something like this that you can participate in!