2018 Cascade Awards Scoring Elements

OCW Cascade Writing Contest and Awards 2018

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Contemporary Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished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 (except in dialogue). 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 (If unpublished, the first 15 pages show promise of characters who are well-developed and differentiated.)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 (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full manuscript will hold interest to the end and provide a powerful emotional experience.)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Historical Fiction Book, Published or Unpublished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 (except in dialogue). 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 (If unpublished, the first 15 pages show promise of characters who are well-developed and differentiated.)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 (except in dialogue). 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 competency to deal with the subject through personal experience and/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 set the stage and illustrate points. (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 set the stage and illustrate points. (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 the 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 (except in dialogue). (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 Book (AGES 12–18+)/Middle Grade Book (AGES 8–12), Fiction, Published or Unpublished

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

________ Characters are believable with relatable problems they must solve. (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 Book (AGES 12–18+)/Middle Grade Book (AGES 8–12), Nonfiction, 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 title (and chapter titles, if provided) are interesting, making readers want to read

more. (10)

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

________ Writing is fresh and original; author establishes voice and competency 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 (except in dialogue). (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 Chapter Book (AGES 6–8), Fiction or Nonfiction, Published or Unpublished

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

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

________ Children can identify with character and see character overcome obstacles. (If nonfiction, book and chapters are interesting to target audience, well-organized, logical, and easy to follow.) (10)

________ Book has a distinct story world that the character must deal with. (If nonfiction, author uses anecdotes and facts skillfully to advance theme.) (10)

________ Excellent writing style (including good grammar) that is age-appropriate with short paragraphs. (10)

________ Age of characters appropriate for target audience. (If nonfiction, descriptions of setting and real persons/situations enhance reader’s experience.) (10)

________ Characters and events meet the experience and possible expectations of this young audience. (If nonfiction, book is truthful in its presentation of information and attitudes.) (10)

________ Text (and illustrations of published books) enhance reader’s experience. 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, or in nonfiction book provides children with the opportunity to learn more about the world. (If unpublished, synopsis and opening pages indicate full book will provide a satisfying ending and leave young readers with hope.) (10)

 

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

________ Book cover and opening pages are bright, bold, and capture reader’s imagination. (If unpublished, description creates word pictures.) (10)

________ Story idea is fresh and original. (If nonfiction, topic is appropriate and will appeal to young children.) (10)

________ Text contains pleasing sounds (such as rhymes, rhythm, repetition, or patterned language) and uses proper grammar. (10)

________ Text flows naturally when read aloud. (10)

________ Children can identify with character and see character overcome obstacles in the story. (If nonfiction, topic will inform young readers and provide fresh insight through accurate depiction of facts and attitudes.) (10)

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

(If nonfiction, writing holds the reader’s interest and keeps the book moving forward). (10)

________ Book contains 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 competency in the subject area 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 presented 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, and 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 specific 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)