2015 Scoring Elements

OCW Cascade Writing Contest and Awards 2015

Scoring Elements

Click HERE to download a printable PDF of the Scoring Elements.

Contemporary Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening hooks readers and draws them into the story. (10)

________ Backstory and facts are provided in a natural and interesting way. (10)

________ Writing is fresh and original, demonstrating the author’s voice. (10)

________ Character motivation is strong enough to move story forward and take the character on a journey. (10)

________Writer has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Writing is well-paced and free of clichés. The level of craftsmanship is high. (10)

________ Novel has a believable story world where the possibility of conflict exists. (10)

________ Dialogue develops the characters and their emotions, and it moves the story forward. (10)

________ Characters are well-developed and differentiated (if unpublished, already in the first 15 pages, characters show signs of being unique and well-developed). (10)

________ Story includes a spiritual element or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Story holds the readers interest to the end and provides a powerful emotional experience (if unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript would hold interest to the end). (10)

Historical Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening hooks readers and draws them into the story. (10)

________ Backstory and facts are provided in a natural and interesting way. (10)

________ Writing is fresh and original, demonstrating the author’s voice. (10)

________ Character motivation is strong enough to move story forward and take the character on a journey. (10)

________ Writer has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Writing is well-paced and free of clichés. The level of craftsmanship is high. (10)

________ Believable story world is set in the past where the possibility of conflict exists. (10)

________ Dialogue develops the characters and their emotions, and it moves the story forward. (10)

________ Characters are well-developed and differentiated in book (if unpublished, already in the first 15 pages, characters show signs of being well-developed and differentiated). (10)

________ Story includes a spiritual element or seems appropriate for the Christian market (10)

________ Story holds readers interest to the end and provides a powerful emotional experience (if unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript would hold interest to the end). (10)

Speculative Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening hooks readers and draws them into the story. (10)

________ Backstory and facts are provided in a natural and interesting way. (10)

________ Writing is fresh and original and demonstrates author’s voice. (10)

________ Book (or sample) tells imaginative speculative story where the main character’s motivation is strong enough to take the character on a journey. (10)

________ Writer has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Writing is well-paced and free of clichés. The level of craftsmanship is high. (10)

________ Novel has believable story world where the possibility of conflict exists. (10)

________ Dialogue develops the characters and their emotions, and moves the story forward. (10)

________ Characters are well-developed and differentiated (if unpublished, already in the first 15 pages, characters show signs of being differentiated and well-developed). (10)

________ Story includes a spiritual element or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Story holds readers interest to the end and provides a powerful emotional experience (if unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript would hold interest to the end). (10)

Nonfiction Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening effectively introduces topic and tells readers what the book is about. (10)

________ Book answers a felt need. (10)

________ Book title and chapter titles are interesting and make readers want to read more. (10)

________ Author establishes knowledge and authority with subject through personal experience or research. (10)

________ Book is well-written, interesting, and easy to understand. Author uses metaphors and paints word pictures to help readers understand. (10)

________ Structure: Book is well-organized and designed in a logical way (if unpublished, sample indicates all parts will be laid out in a logical way). (10)

________ Author has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The level of craftsmanship is high. (10)

________ Author effectively uses anecdotes and facts to illustrate points and set the stage. (10)

________ Book has a spiritual thread that is natural for the story or seems appropriate for the                      Christian market. (10)

________ Conclusion is satisfying and delivers what was promised in the beginning (if unpublished, sample indicates full book will offer a satisfying conclusion). (10)

Memoir Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening creates a strong impression or hook. (10)

________ Story concerns a significant and compelling personal life event. (10)

________ Narrator’s voice is fresh and feels true. (10)

________ Author uses anecdotes and historical facts to illustrate points or set the stage. (10)

________ Author uses metaphors and imagery to paint word pictures to help readers understand. (10)

________ Conflict is strong enough to move story forward and take character on a journey. (10)

________ Narrator’s motivations are clear and believable. (10)

________ Author has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The level of craftsmanship is high. Writing is well-paced and free of clichés. (10)

________ Book or sample contains a spiritual thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Ending delivers what was promised in the beginning. (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full book will deliver what was promised.) (10)

Young Adult/Middle Grade Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening hooks readers and draws them into the story. (10)

________ Characters are believable with relatable problems they must solve on their own. (10)

________ Book has a believable story world where the possibility of conflict exists. (10)

________ Writing is fresh and original, demonstrating the author’s voice. (10)

________ Dialogue sounds realistic and reveals plot, conflict, and emotion. (10)

________ Conflict is strong enough to motivate character’s journey. (10)

________ Characters are well-developed and differentiated. (10)

________ Author has strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Style is appropriate to genre: tight, efficient prose with well-paced action. (10)

________ Ending is satisfying and leaves readers with hope. (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate a satisfying ending) (10)

________ Story contains a spiritual thread that is natural to the story and appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

Young Adult/Middle Grade Nonfiction Book, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening tells what book is about and provides a hook. (10)

________ Book’s subject is one youth need or want to read about.  (10)

________ Book and chapter titles are interesting, making readers want to read more. (10)

________ Author incorporates setting and word pictures to help reader understand. (10)

________ Writing is fresh and original; author establishes voice and authority with topic. (10)

________ Structure is logical and easy to follow. Points build on one another and continue to a satisfying conclusion. (10)

________ Author effectively uses anecdotes and facts to set the stage with authentic representation of information/attitudes as they exist(ed). (10)

________ Author has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The level of craftsmanship is high. Writing is well-paced and free of clichés. (10)

________ Book is inspiring or brings new insight. Book contains spiritual thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Ending delivers what was promised in the beginning (if unpublished, sample                      indicates full book will deliver what was promised). (10)

Children’s Fiction Chapter Book (AGES 6–8),Published or Unpublished

________ Opening hook creates interest and draws readers into the story. (10)

________ Story concept is original. (10)

________ Children can identify with character and see character overcome obstacles. (10)

________ Book has a distinct story world that the character must deal with. (10)

________ Style is age-appropriate—short paragraphs of action and dialogue with little description. (10)

________ Age of characters matches that of target audience. (10)

________ Characters and events meet the experience and possible expectations of young audience. (10)

________ Text and illustrations enhance readers’ experience (if unpublished, descriptions create sense of place). (10)

________ Book contains an inspirational thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Ending is satisfying and leaves young readers with hope (if unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full book will leave readers with hope). (10)

Children’s Nonfiction Chapter Book (AGES 6–8), Published or Unpublished

________ Opening is compelling and engages young readers. (10)

________ Topic is original and will appeal to young readers. (10)

________ Book and chapter titles are interesting, making readers want to read more. (10)

________ Author uses anecdotes and facts skillfully to advance theme. (10)

________ Book is well-organized, logical, and easy to follow. (10)

________ Author has excellent writing style that is age-appropriate with short paragraphs. (10)

________ Book is truthful and authentic in its presentation of information and attitudes as they exist(ed) at that time and place. (10)

________ Book provides children with the opportunity to learn more about the world. (10)

________ Descriptions of setting and real persons/situations enhance reader experience. (10)

________ Book contains an inspirational thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

Children’s Picture Book Fiction (AGES 2–10+), Published or Unpublished

***Note submission exception: Send entire unpublished picture book electronically.

________ Book cover and opening images are bright, bold, and high contrast. If unpublished, description creates word pictures. (10)

________ Story idea is fresh and original. (10)

________ Text contains pleasing sounds, rhymes, rhythm, or repetition. (10)

________ Text flows naturally when read aloud. (10)

________ Children can identify with character and see character overcome obstacles in story. (10)

________ Familiar words or actions are interspersed with less familiar. (10)

________ Story and style are appropriate for young children. (10)

________ Pages turn in the appropriate places. (10)

________ Dialogue or narration reveals plot and keep story moving. (10)

________ Book contains inspirational thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

Children’s Picture Book Nonfiction (AGES 2–10+), Published or Unpublished

***Note submission exception: Send entire unpublished picture book electronically.

________ Opening text captures readers’ imagination. (10)

________ Book topic is appropriate and will appeal to young children. (10)

________ Book presents facts and attitudes accurately. (10)

________ Text has pleasing sounds and repetition. (10)

________ Text contains patterned language. (10)

________ Text flows naturally when read aloud. (10)

________ Topic will inform young readers and provide fresh insight. (10)

________ Familiar words and actions are interspersed with less familiar. (10)

________ Pages seem to turn in the appropriate places. (10)

________ Book has an inspirational thread or seems appropriate for Christian market. (10)

Article, Column, Blog Post, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening clearly tells readers what the piece is about and creates a hook. (10)

________ Topic delivers help for a felt need and creates instant connection with readers. (10)

________ Title creates interest. (10)

________ Piece contains interesting twists or facts presented in a fresh way. (10)

________ Author establishes authority with the subject through personal stories, facts, and anecdotes. (10)

________ Author has a strong command of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. The level of craftsmanship is high. (10)

________ Author’s voice is authentic; writing is controlled; and narrative is well-paced. (10)

________ Piece contains an inspirational thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Article is well-structured and told in a logical way. Points build upon points, leading to a satisfying ending. (10).

________ Piece will inspire or give fresh insight to the reader. (10)

Poetry— A Single Poem ,  Published or Unpublished

________ Theme shows originality and freshness. (30).

________ Subject is emotionally engaging and resonates with readers. (10)

________ Poem flows with excellent rhythm—not necessarily rhyming, but has pleasing cadence. (10)

________ Poet engages the reader using the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. (10)

________ Poet uses imagery and symbolism effectively. (10)

________ Poet uses repetition, line breaks, and other poetic conventions effectively. (10)

________ Poet demonstrates command of language; poetry may take liberties with grammar, but spelling is important. (10)

________ Poem has an inspirational thread or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

Devotional—A Single Devotional, Published or Unpublished

________ Opening hooks the reader and creates interest. (10)

________ Writer effectively uses a personal story to help the reader make a connection about what God is doing in his/her life. (20)

________Writer uses detailed, specific, concrete language to describe his/her spiritual insight about/connection with God. (10)

________ Scripture matches and amplifies the theme. (10)

________ Writer’s voice is genuine, sincere, and vulnerable. (10)

________ Anecdotes contain flawed people with real problems, not perfect families. (5)

________ Writer avoids phrases like “you should.” Tone is not preachy. (5)

________ Theme of devotional has universal appeal/application except in the case where author intentionally writes for a special target audience such as military families. (10)

________ Closing paragraph helps readers make the jump to apply to their own lives what they’ve just read about God. (10)

________ Devotional message explicitly refers to God and/or Jesus Christ, rather than just good, moral Judeo-Christian principles. (10)

Short Story/Flash Fiction— (Published or Unpublished)

Short Story: 1,000–2,000 words; flash fiction: up to 1,000 words

________ Story is based on an original idea or theme. (20)

________ Opening provides a hook to pull the reader into the story. (10)

________ Story is written in an original way with a unique voice or unexpected outcome. (10)

________ Writing is well-organized with effective transitions. (5)

________ Setting and physical details contribute to the mood and theme. (5)

________ Writing is expressive and includes figurative language and detailed descriptions that engage the reader. (10)

________ Story contains inspirational element or seems appropriate for the Christian market. (10)

________ Sentences are carefully crafted to create fluidity, interest and variety. (10)

________ The writing demonstrates understanding of grammatical conventions. (10)

________ Story holds interest and provides a satisfying conclusion. (10)

Check Also

Congratulations to the 2015 OCW Writer of Promise, Lynn Hare. At the Awards reception with conference director, Lindy Jacobs and Cascade Awards co-chair,Marilyn Rhoads.

2015 Cascade Award Winners

Published Published Contemporary Fiction Book All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti Published Historical Fiction Book …