RWA Chapter Judges: You’re the Winner!

I know, I know, all writers are busy, and can’t imagine squeezing anything else into the schedule. Still, you may want to consider volunteering to judge entries in your RWA chapter, or another’s, to hone your writing skills and share your knowledge with other aspiring authors.


Typically, RWA chapter judges have a range of advantageous credits that reassure the contest entrants that the critique offered for the entry fee have merit. This can mean being a published author in romance or another field, achieving PRO status, writing RWA newsletter articles, or participating in judge training. If you fit in some qualifications and feel you have good advice to share, consider the benefits of judging in a RWA chapter contest when the call comes.



  •       You learn to analyze the specific details of a piece of work.

  •       It teaches you to find both the good and not-so-good aspects of writing.

  •       You find creative ways to be tactful.

  •       Telling passages become more obvious as you spot them in others’ work, which can help you find your own.

  •       Interest in judging may motivate you to achieve PRO status.

  •       The satisfaction of sharing tips with other writers can help you to realize that you learned more than you thought at the workshops and conferences.

  •       Solving problems in the entries can lead to similar success with works in progress.

  •       Score sheets give standards that you can apply to your own writing. Each one is different, giving many points to consider.

  •       Judging is an opportunity to network with other writers and chapters. A chance to get your name out there.

  •       “To be” verbs become much easier to spot after seeing was, was, was in work that is not your own.

  •       Sometimes adding another responsibility can lead you to manage time better, especially when this aspect of writing has a deadline that can’t be ignored.

  •       You keep the writer in your head working, even if you don’t have a work in progress.

  •       Thinking about the organization of the entries develops this skill for your own works.

  •       Judging is an opportunity to contribute to your chapter’s bank account without opening your wallet.

  •       Participation gives you greater appreciation for the work that goes into a contest.

  •       You gain greater objectivity, hopefully transferable to your work.

  •       Reading synopses can reveal hot topics and plots, hinting at trends.


Too important for a bullet, the best reason to judge is to give encouragement to an aspiring, maybe struggling, writer. Judges’ scores and comments can vary widely, so a few positive comments can really make a difference to the contest entrant. You have the opportunity to keep the dream alive, somewhere out there. True, that does mean competition, but we each have a little something different to offer. So why not mull over that request the next time it comes?



Copyright 2005.  Originally appeared in Rumpled Sheets, July 2005, Publication of the Missouri Romance Writers of America.  Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for right to reprint.