June 6th, 2011

Be Kind to a Cranky TA Day

I’m feeling cranky.

Among other things, I’m a judge in various national writing contests.  I’m judging a contest now for a major writing organization.  The entrants sent in the opening chapters of their novels plus a synopsis.  I’m supposed to read the entries, provide them with extensive and detailed feedback, and give them a score. The idea is to help the writers make their stories publication-ready.  That means ready to be published with a major New York publisher.

And…I’m cranky.

I have 8 entries to judge, each one taking me an hour or two to read, comment, and score.  I’ve read 5 of the 8 so far.

And…I’m really cranky.

All these hopeful writers can put together sentences and paragraphs.  Mostly (though not entirely) their manuscripts are properly formatted.  Superficially, if you’re not paying attention to story, they’re fine.  Yet of the 5 I’ve read so far, 4 of them are complete crocks, with an average score of about 50% of the total possible points.  (NOTE:  Publishers and agents don’t grade on a curve. To be publishable, it has to hit about a 95% score or better, or it’s a rejection.  Anything less than that and publishers and agents will say it’s too much trouble to fix.  And you thought your toughest professor was a tough grader!!!)

Anyway, the storytelling in most of  the entries I’m reading  is awful.  Characters that don’t make any sense.  Characters that do dumb things so the author gets where she wants to go rather than because it’s natural for them to do that.  Settings that are obscure at best. Plots that are so irrational they make no sense.


After I'm done with an entry


Of these four entries, if I were a professional editor or agent, I’d have stopped reading no later than page 2: REJECT! (FAIL!)

So now think about your basic TA or grad student or even (hah!) professor.  They have about 15 jillion papers to read and comment on and grade.  And most of these papers are pretty amateurly written.

If I’m cranky after reading only 4 contest entries, imagine how cranky the professors and TAs are after the fifty-ninth time of telling people that an essay has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Pretty darned cranky, if you ask me!

So…let’s make this Be Kind to Cranky TAs Day.  Do something nice for your TA or professor.  If you need help writing a quality paper, get someone to help you out (naturally BestEssayHelp.com is all ready to help!)

But please-please-please…don’t enter your novel in a writing contest unless it’s really polished. You really don’t want to make me cranky!


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  • John

    The entry looks completely destroyed…you are a real killer, Maureen. I fear you lol 😉