When I was a judge for an annual writing contest, the scoring criteria was based on the Diederich Scale. Six categories were described and points/ scores were to be given( high middle and low), based on your interpretation of the writing within the category descriptions. Not all criteria applied with some entries you were given, but you as a judge would determine which most applied to the entry you were judging, and score points accordingly. It was not an easy task, but after "judge training" and a few contests under my belt, I found the system had a hidden bonus. It sharpened your insight about your own writing. Because it was a boon to me, and I assume many writing contests may use a similar system, I thought it might be helpful to new writers to view the categories and use them as a guideline for their own writing.
PLOT and CONFLICT
STYLE and PACING
The first three category descriptions, Characterization, Plot, Conflict, and Dialogue are fairly general expectations to follow and score, but deciding which range, (high,middle and Low) most applies to an entry was difficult at times. If you as a writer did your homework about rules of manuscript given by most publishers, the last two categories, Mechanics and Presentation should not result in a problematic scoring in that category.
Of all the categories, I seemed to have the most difficulty with number 4. Style and Pacing, so I summarize below the guidelines for giving the high point rank for that category. Hopefully, it may help new writers view what contests or publishers are looking for.
High award of points:
Writer's Voice rings true without being overwhelming, The story moves at an appropriate pace to the story situation, Compulsion to turn the page stays with the reader; Author puts words together in an interesting or unusual way, sentence length varies as necessary to tone and mood, Opening and ending hooks work well; may need polish, but the concepts are effective
This type of guideline for judging writing contests may have changed over the years, but I feel that the categories may always provide a tool to give one a good measure of their writing, regardless of genre. O f course, a good editor will help, but if you consider a future writing contest, do check out your entry with the above categories. and best of luck to everyone.