Over at KLSF otherwise known as the Library of Spanking Fiction (www.spankinglibrary.tk) there is a writing contest underway. The entries have all been posted and readers can view and vote for their favorites. I've reviewed most of the stories at this point and I have a few observations as to how I think stories in a contest like this ought to be judged. These are my criteria. I know not everyone will agree, but I think most are valid.
First, it is instructive to note that this is a "picture" contest. Entrants are instructed to write a story inspired by a picture. The story must be at least 500 words. Other than that, it's wide open.
Here is the picture.
So it seems fairly simple. It's a "Last Will" story, at least at first blush. Therein lies the first challenge. In the spanking story genre, stories about last wills are not new. In fact there is one here on this blog called "The Beresford Heiresses". That story follows to some degree a plot line that is actually quite common in tales of this type: So and so has died and has bequeathed a gift, but to receive it there are conditions which usually involve the acceptance of punishment for some past fault or manner of living.
So my first judging criteria is originality. Can the writer come up with a plot or story idea that is fresh and original? Sadly, most of the entries have not done this. I would guess that nearly 70% of the stories I have reviewed use the plot I've described above. In fact, I'd venture to say that half are essentially the same story differing only in character and style of writing. So in my view a story that employs this standard plot line would have to be really special to get any traction with me. If you are going to use that stock "last will--gift--accept punishment" story arc, there had better be a very clever wrinkle or something else that lifts it out of the ordinary.
Next is sheer writing ability. Does the story move or is it bogged down with unnecessary fluff? Are the descriptions vivid or moribund? How about the dialog---does it sound real? Can we see the characters in our mind's eye or is it just a lot of talking heads and confusing? How about structure? If I'm reading a long string of declarative sentences, sometimes it reminds me of a third grade reading book. Imagery? If it's bogged down with overly florid metaphors and similes, it is at best amateurish, and at worst a Bulwer-Lytton contest entry. So the ability to vividly move the story along and portray the characters is very important.
Next on the list is credibility. Do I believe what is happening? Or is it so outrageous and unrealistic that there is no credibility whatsoever? I have written about this elsewhere on this blog, but for me, a writer must get me to suspend disbelief or the story is just too outlandish to accept even as fiction. This is a very real problem in this genre. Absent substantial justification, spankings between adults do not occur as a matter of course, and in many stories the penultimate scene can sometimes read like pure criminal assault and battery. The plot line must cleverly set it up.
Finally, and this is a minor point here, but did the writer incorporate the picture somehow into the story? If this were a professionally judged writing contest that would be a big factor, e.g., how cleverly the author worked the picture into his theme.
I will now admit that I have entries---more than one. I will not say what they are, but I will say that I have tried to avoid the pitfalls I have pointed out above. One thing I have learned about these contests, however, is that I am spectacularly bad at picking the winners. I am nearly always astounded.