2017 Cascade Awards Scoring Elements

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OCW Cascade Writing Contest and Awards 2017

  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Contemporary Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished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 the 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 (If unpublished, the first 15 pages show promise of characters who are well-developed and differentiated.) (10)

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

________ Story holds the reader’s interest to the end and provides a powerful emotional experience. (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript will hold interest to the end and provide a powerful emotional experience.) (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Historical Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished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 the 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 (If unpublished, the first 15 pages show promise of characters who are well-developed and differentiated.) (10)

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

________ Story holds reader’s interest to the end and provides a powerful emotional experience. (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript will hold interest to the end and provide a powerful emotional experience.) (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)

________ 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 it moves the story forward.   (10)

________ Characters are well-developed and differentiated. (If unpublished, the first 15 pages show promise of characters who are well-developed and differentiated.) (10)

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

________ Story holds reader’s interest to the end and provides a powerful emotional experience. (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript will hold interest to the end and provide a powerful emotional experience.) (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 paints word pictures to help readers understand. (10)

________ Structure: Book is well-organized and designed in a logical way. (If unpublished, sample indicates full book 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 deliver a satisfying conclusion and what was promised in the beginning.) (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 (if unpublished) 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 in the beginning.) (10)

 

Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction 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 main character’s journey. (10)

________ Characters are well-developed and differentiated (If unpublished, the first 15 pages   show promise of characters who 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 full book will provide a satisfying ending and leave readers with hope.) (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 this age group needs or wants 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)

________ Conclusion delivers what was promised in the beginning. (If unpublished, sample indicates full book will deliver what was promised in the beginning.) (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 this young audience. (10)

________ Text and illustrations enhance reader’s experience. (If unpublished, descriptions in text 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 provide a satisfying ending and leave young 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’s 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 text 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 the story. (10)

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

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

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

________ Dialogue or narration reveals plot and keeps 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 text electronically.

________ Opening text captures reader’s 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 the Christian market. (10)

 

Article, Column, or 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 in 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. (10)

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

________ Poem flows with excellent rhythm—need not rhyme, but has a pleasing cadence. (10)

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

________ Poet uses word sounds such as assonance and alliteration to create a mood. (10)

________ Poem enables the reader to see, think, or understand a theme or topic in a new or more compelling way. (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 or illustration to help the reader make a connection about what God is doing in his/her life. (10)

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

________ The devotional includes a quoted Scripture, and the theme invites the reader to a deeper understanding of the Scripture (10).

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

________ Anecdotes contain flawed people with real problems, not perfect families. (10)

________ Tone is not preachy. (Writer avoids phrases like “you should” and uses “we” and “our” instead of “you” and “your.”) (10)

________ 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 leap 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. (10)

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

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

________ Writing is well-organized, with effective transitions. (10)

________ Setting and physical details contribute to the mood and theme. (10)

________ 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)