It has become the judges’ practice to provide feedback on entries generally, in the hope that even the prize winners may pick up a few helpful hints.
The shortlist for the 2007 awards was the highest quality in the 15 years of the awards. To be shortlisted, without winning a prize, was itself an achievement.
The best entries, to a greater or lesser extent:
(i) displayed observation, sensitivity, intuition, wit, humour, irony, satire, and an excellent use of words and language;
(ii) made good and relevant points, often “thinking outside the box”;
(iii) constructed cogent arguments;
(iv) evoked interest, showing an appreciation that horseracing is an exceptionally multi-faceted sport, encompassing a wide variety of activities and participants; and
(v) were a great pleasure to read and had the ability to move the reader to sympathy, tears or laughter, dependent on their subject.
In the context of the high standards of the shortlist, the reasons why pieces were not shortlisted can substantially be explained by one or more of the following:
(i) poor overall construction. A story or article needs a positive beginning and an intriguing middle part which leads to a conclusion – i.e., it needs to formulate an argument. Several articles did not;
(ii) insufficient investigation. Whereas a detailed knowledge of horseracing is not required for these awards, most articles on any subject need a small amount of research. Descriptions of horses springing out of traps and running laps are not convincing – they are not greyhounds. Investigation is a first necessity for a writer;
(iii) mundane writing. There needs to be some element of originality to attract the reader. Several articles did not say anything of interest or were uninspiring and dull;
(iv) bad spelling, bad grammar, poorly constructed sentences, and opacity; and
(v) lack of conviction. Several pieces did not bring their subjects to life and were not credible. They did not engage the reader.
All of you, thank you for entering in 2007. We hope that you found it a rewarding experience and, if eligible, you will wish to enter again in 2008.
Information on the 2008 awards appears on the website: www.mrwc.org.uk/willswritingawards. The big change in 2008 is the introduction of an under 15 category alongside the longstanding under 26 and under 19 categories and the presentation of awards to both winners and runners up in each of the three categories (formerly, just the under 26 category), i.e. a total of six prizes will be on offer.
Chairman of the Judges
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