Judging and Finalist Notification

Judging and Finalist Notification


First Round

All entries will be read and scored by three trained judges, at least one of whom will be a published author, or a member of RWA-PRO. The lowest score will be dropped. The final score will be the sum of the two higher scores. In the event of a tie, the dropped score may be taken into account.

Entries will be scored according to the following guidelines:

  • Opening (20 points)
  • Description/Setting (20 points)
  • Characters (20 points)
  • Story (Goal/Motivation/Conflict) (20 points)
  • Craft/Mechanics (20 points)
  • Style Voice (20 points)
  • Pacing/Plotting (20 points)
  • Dialogue/Narrative (20 points)
  • Category-specific Special Elements (10 points)

Finalist Round

The top three manuscripts in each category will be forwarded to the final round judges for ranking (first, second, third). In the case of a tie, no more than five (5) entries will be forwarded to the finalist judges. If necessary, ties may be broken by adding in the dropped score to the total.

Finalists will have the opportunity, for one week only, to edit their manuscripts based on the preliminary comments, before the manuscripts are sent to the final judges.

Note: RCRW reserves the right to discard all electronic entries and return fees if a minimum of seven (7) entries are not received in any category. Entrants will be contacted before the entries are returned and given the option to place their entry in another category.

Finalist Notification

Finalists will be notified via e-mail or phone by June 25th. Finalists will have one week to make any edits to their entries and return them along with a 500 word synopsis, to the Contest Coordinator (by July 2nd). Once all finalists have been notified, all other entrants will have their scored entries returned via e-mail.

Winners will be notified by August 31st, via a phone call or by e-mail. Please be sure to look for the announcement!


  • Finalists: certificate with ranking, website finalist banner, and gold rose lapel pin
  • Overall winner: certificate, website winner banner, gold rose lapel pin, and $100 gift certificate (the overall winner will also receive their finalist certificate with ranking)
  • One-year RCRW membership* for the overall winner and first place winners in each category

*  Please note: The RCRW membership prize does not include RWA national membership fees. Only one RCRW membership per person, regardless of multiple wins. This prize is nontransferable and has no cash value.