My Experience as a Judge for a Novel Writing Competition

On March 31st at approximately 6:30 pm, I took a leap of faith and sent an email asking if a writing competition needed an additional judge. The next morning I received an email with warm welcomes and a drop box folder full of books to read and the request to have my top 5 by April 10th, at the latest.

Within the last ten days, I have read and reviewed 25 full-length books for this competition (about 7500 pages). It has been quite a challenging and rewarding experience that taught me a lot about reading and writing, and even more about myself.

The biggest thing I learned is that I truly love reading. I woke up early and read every chance I got. When I would finally stop looking at my computer at night, my thoughts were… “Maybe I’ll read a book to relax for a few minutes before bed.” Even after reading all day, my idea of relaxation was reading.

I also learned how to speed read. I don’t think I could have even come close to reading all the books in that time if I hadn’t learned to speed read a little bit. It was incredible when I was speeding through a book and it was almost as if I wasn’t even “reading” anymore, but instead my eyes were processing words so fast that I was just seeing the movie reel in my mind.

Finally, dialogue and setting are extremely important. When I was tasked with reading 25 books, I relied heavily on the dialogue to carry a lot of importance. It either drew me in further to the book or it immediately cast me out. The setting also played a major part because I had to be able to orient myself quickly in order to mentally transition into a new book.

I enjoyed this experience whole-heartedly. Although I will reserve speed reading for special occasions, I think my entire reading world has just changed. I am proud of the work I completed in the last 10 days and I would love to judge books for more competitions – possibly even turn reading and reviewing into a career. I’m grateful to the author’s that submitted books and the organization that allowed me my first competition judging experience.

Happy reading and writing.

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