Ink & Insights blog series: “Why are my scores so different?”

Ink & Insights Judges' Blog

A contestant and supporter of Ink & Insights once said, “The transparency the contest provides in the feedback and scoring is by far its greatest strength, as well as its greatest challenge.”

Unlike with other writing contests, the contestants of Ink & Insights see everything — Not only the judges’ comments about their story, but every aspect of the score that goes into their total.

This unfortunately also includes the contradictions.

As much as we try to standardize the scoring process, there will still be times when the judges’ scores will not match up in a tidy little grouping. Four different people read each submission, each bringing their own education levels, backgrounds, and experiences to the table, and sometimes, they don’t agree.

Because this can be confusing for the writer who isn’t sure how to use the feedback they receive when the scores vary, Ink & Insights judges have decided to…

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Ink and Insights Contest

Awesome review of Ink & Insights.

sofiya pasternack

Back in May (or so, I don’t really remember), I found out about a contest on the Twitters. Which is where I find out about all my contests, to be honest. The contest was called Ink and Insights and I was drawn to it because it guarantees feedback on your submission by four critiquers, and entry into a contest where you may or may not win a prize.

Prizes are fun, sure, but I didn’t enter for that reason. I rarely win things. I was in it for the detailed, professional feedback. There was a fee (35 smackaroons, if I remember correctly), but for the amount of feedback I got, totally worth it.


I submitted a 10,000-word manuscript sample and got feedback returned pretty fast. Each judge scored the manuscript sample using numerical points to a maximum of 250 points per judge. Four judges + 250 points = 1,000 points…

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Ink & Insights blog series: “Why are my scores so different?” — Aaron’s thoughts

Ink & Insights Judges' Blog


This is my third year as a judge for Ink and Insights, but no matter how many dozens of stories I evaluate, I come to the scoresheet every time with a certain amount of anxiety about how to best deliver advice and justify my scores.

What has been most helpful to me is thinking about judging in the same way that I do grading English literature essays. The goals of the two activities are more-or-less the same in that I’m trying to explain to students/writers how to refine their ideas and deliver them with more accuracy and effect. In this light, I score manuscripts according to percent ranges that to me mean certain things. I consider an essay or story above 80% (200 in the case of this year’s contest) to be a standout work, and 90% (225) or higher to be just about ready for publication, assuming I were…

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Ink & Insights blog series: “Why are my scores so different?” — Jessica’s thoughts

Ink & Insights Judges' Blog


One of the things that I love most about publishing and one of the things that frustrates me is that there is no magic formula for creating a best-selling book.  What will have one person riveted will have another putting the book down after chapter one and never picking it up again.  This is one of the reasons that I think this is such a great contest and that it is important for writers to see differing opinions when it comes to their work.

Those of you who have entered I&I for the first time this year might not be aware of the evolution of the scoresheet that we use as judges.  Catherine takes great care every year to try to work through the many nuances of different genres and to try to neutralize bias as much as possible to create a scoring system that is fair to all entries. …

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Ink & Insights blog series: “Why are my scores so different?” — Jake’s thoughts

Ink & Insights Judges' Blog

Jake WallerIf judging books was a completely objective process, you could probably get computers to do it.

If a novel’s quality was objective, we’d have a definitive ‘best book ever’ that would be mandatory reading for everyone. Subjectivity is what makes this contest so valuable. Why? Because agents are subjective, publishing houses are subjective. Twelve different publishers turned down Harry Potter. Judging a book is tough to get right all the time.

We know it’s frustrating to have differing scores, or judges contradicting each other, but that’s what happens in the real world. We work a lot on standardizing our scoring but at the end of the day, you can’t measure your connection with a story. And that’s what a lot of the scoring boils down to.

Character strength, emotional depth, engaging style… these are all things that score better when we like and empathize with the main character or the…

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Ink & Insights blog series: “Why are my scores so different?” — Carrie’s thoughts

Ink & Insights Judges' Blog


Doesn’t it drive you absolutely insane when somebody ruins something for you? Like when you watch a movie and you think it’s awesome—until someone points out that one flaw.

“The music was so annoying!”

“That one line was so cheesy.”

“Elsa hair literally goes through her arm when she brushes it over her shoulder.”

My husband likes to do that to me sometimes: “Have you ever noticed how that chandelier isn’t hanging in the center of the room?” No. No I haven’t. But now I will never un-notice that. Thank you.

Well, when it comes to scoring entries in the Ink & Insights Novel Writing Contest similar things can happen. Some judges notice certain things that other judges may not have noticed. We judges at Ink & Insights try our very best to remain objective, however, our different personalities and life experiences do make it impossible to judge all entries…

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August 8, 2017 · 12:39 am

Ink & Insights blog series: “Why are my scores so different?” — Catherine’s thoughts

Ink & Insights Judges' Blog


Evaluating a manuscript is not an exact science. Although judges strive for total objectivity, no work of art will have the same effect on every person. The scoresheet breaks down all the many areas of novel-writing technique so that you can see your strengths and weaknesses, but you can’t please everyone. One person may love the emotion in your novel, whereas another may feel your characters are melodramatic.

Inconsistent scores are inevitable and occur in many manuscripts. All judges have individual sets of interests that guide their scoring. Judges may not agree on all points, but neither will your readers or publishers. By providing multiple perspectives of your manuscript, Ink and Insights can help you to see the effects your work can have on a diverse readership.

Readers are fickle beings: what one reader finds amusing, another may find offensive. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another. Having these four opinions…

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Putting yourself out there – why and how

Good advice!

The Scribblers

In the aftermath of #1st50, I thought now would be a good time to talk about putting yourself out there. Because, it’s tough. And when you get rejected, it feels like your book baby got turned into a bomb, and it just blew up in your face…

itchy-scratchy Why do we do it to ourselves?

Why, oh why, oh why?

So why do we do it? Why don’t we just roll over and give up? Decide caring about stuff is too hard, and hide ourselves in a hole and never come out again?

sadness-inside-out Entering competitions makes me feel like this…

Well, first off, if you’ve ever seen Inside Out, you should know that being sad is okay. It’s a necessary part of life. Nobody’s happy all the time. And if you don’t believe me then answer me this… would you be happy if this happened to you?

man-eating shark.gif Life is shit and…

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July 14, 2017 · 2:36 am

Generation Author Snowflake & The High Cost of Instant

Another great post from Kristen Lamb.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of David Rogers Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of David Rogers

Technology always changes our reality and there are inevitable growing pains that go part and parcel with any innovation. Every meaningful advance always has social consequences.


From the Gutenberg Press to the Model-T to electric lighting humans have had to adjust, shift and learn to balance great benefits with never before encountered consequences.

With the digital age? Here we go again.

As I’ve mentioned before, as early as 2004 when I was puttering around a site called Gather, I saw what social media was going to evolve into, that we were looking at likely the largest shift in communication since the Gutenberg Press. I knew even then that this was likely going to be the end of publishing as we had known it for well over a hundred years.

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t have…

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Writing competition review – Ink and Insights

The Scribblers

We have a page dedicated to the writing competitions for unpublished authors such as ourselves and probably you, who are reading this. But I wanted to take a little time and say a few words about one in particular which, for an unpublished author trying to improve, is a goldmine. A treasure trove. The Holy Grail.

7zt4wl1b Ink and Insights runs their competition every year in 3 categories – Apprentice, Master and Non-fiction

Ink and Insights is ‘a writing contest geared toward strengthening the skills of independent writers by focusing on critique and feedback from industry professionals. Each entry is assigned four judges who specialize in the genre of the manuscript. They read, score, and comment on specific aspects of the manuscript. (Characters, dialogue, style, pace, tension, etc. for novels.) Once all four judges have finished, the four scoresheets with feedback are returned to the writer with a numerical score.

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