Judging Criteria for the 2023 Condition Category Condition in Arrhynsia | World Anvil

Judging Criteria for the 2023 Condition Category

by Terry Cassis - visit my world Arrhynsia!
An article (as promised) that highlights some of the best submissions from the Condition Category!
Great World Ember 2023 Conditions Articles!
Generic article | Jan 20, 2024

Introduction and the Prize

World Ember is supposed to be about your world building - it doesn't have to be competitive, it can just be fun. But, if you are reading this, you are almost certainly interested in competing for the prize I am offering for impressing the socks off me in the Condition category. It is a cool prize (I think) - a package of 30 images on a standard license from Shutterstock which I have found offers the best selection of fantasy and sci-fi art at an affordable price that isn't generated by AI. This is my standard and preferred art source, though I will use AI if I can't find anything I can make work on Shutterstock. Sorry folks, Deviant Art is too rich for my blood. Anyway, I wrote up my policy statement on AI use in my worlds if you care to read it (on the front page of my world Arrhynsia), but don't feel you need to do so.   As always, if you win and you do not care for or can't use the prize I offered, I will exchange it for another prize you can use, with a strong preference from me for something that will contribute to helping you create a better world. The rules for sponsoring limited us to $100 value for procured prizes so if you don't want the Shutterstock art, we can figure out an alternative at that price point for you that works for both of us.   I wanted to give two awards for WE - one for premier league submissions and one for standard league, mostly because it's hard for me to bypass premier league submissions as they are inevitably cream of the crop on article quality, but I think the people who need the awards the most are those who are up and coming, but there were rules that said only one award. I am undecided how I'm going to handle this. (smoke rises from my ears as I overthink things again)   I will do an article that points you to the top contenders in this category (but it won't give away the winner). If you want to know what a great article looks like, and which were the best ones in this category, I'll give you a lowdown on what I liked best and WHY I liked it. I'll link that article into this article once my judging is complete. The one from Summer Camp is located in my WA folder on my world of Arrhynsia.   I'm not Ondo, so I can't evaluate articles that are not done in english. However, if you choose to do your article in english, and it is not your native language, please put a line at the top of your article saying so (something like "ESL Author" works) and I will not count minor problems with language skills against your article in judging.   I don't look at or care how many people liked your article or read it - that's changed since SC. There's lots of great articles out there that no one has read because the authors are new to WA. So even if you're new, you're going to get an objective and fair read from me. Put your best foot forward!   Anyway, I hate it when I'm playing a game and I don't know the rules or how to score. You're trying to impress me, and you almost certainly don't know much about me and have no idea what is likely to blow my socks off and earn you that lovely art prize. So it only seems fair to me to tell you what I am going to look for when January rolls around and I get to reading all these articles.  

The Groundrules (How to Play)

  ENABLE COMPETITOR MODE - only submissions from people who indicate that they want to compete will be considered. This is like telling you to put your name on your test before turning it in. For Summer Camp I ended up with insane numbers of articles to review, and it's just too hard to give each article a fair read if there are literally hundreds of them. Hopefully, this will make the number of articles more manageable for us judges.   PUBLISH YOUR ARTICLE - You'd be surprised how many articles in SC came up hobbitses - probably submitted then unpublished and forgot to republish. But makes no never mind to me - if I can't read it, you lose.   CREDIT YOUR ART - Copyright infringement is no joke. It's unfair to the artist, unethical, and illegal to not credit the artist whose art you use. Take care of business and do your crediting when you upload images and you won't have a problem. If you don't, the DQ goblins will discard your entry!  

Criteria and Judging Process:

  I will do two passes through the submissions. The first pass will filter down to the set of articles that bring me joy or spark my interest in some way. So here's how I do that:   FIRST PASS
  • I read the article.
  • I look at your organization and your art.
  • I decide if your article is going to make it into the second pass. (I expect about a third of the articles to make it past this point, but I'm not limiting mayself here either.)
  • I read the article and make notes.
  • I evaluate the impression metrics (if I didn't cheat and do it the first time through already...)
  • I look for the "Good or Great" criteria. This will get me down to the short list.
  • I write a draft of the "best articles" article so I can keep all he great ones straight in my head.
  • I desparately push off Ondo as I wrestle with the last decision, spending a sleepless night tossing and turning about which wonderful articles I have to put second and third.
  • I get up and scribble off a last minute email to Ondo naming the winner before I get coffee and dash off to work.
The Filter Pass Criteria
  First Impressions: These are the things that are likely to get you through the first pass:   Style & Visual Impact: I carre here about an articles visual appeal, structure, and mechanics: Things that matter to me are:
  • avoiding the dreaded "Wall of Text",
  • completeness (for SC I gave bonus credit for not using the template, but the condition template is better, so you can use it without concern)
  • including unique and relevant art for that article,
  • world/background style, font style and legibility (don't pick a hard to read font, I wear glasses for a reason),
  • use of quotes and active links to other articles in the larger world,
  • use of unique CSS to style the article (structure, scrollers, embedded pics etc),
  • use of other WA features (maps, timelines, whiteboards etc),
  • obtrusive grammar mistakes (incomplete or incorrect (missing words) sentences, verb tenses, spelling etc)
  Just a note - none of these things are requirements, they just help your work stand out from the pack.  
The Second Pass Deciding Factors - Is it Good or Great?
  World Building: This criteria evaluates how well the article defines and shapes this important or meaningful element in your world - put another way, can I see the significance of the condition under discussion? Does the description of this condition further the world as a unique or interesting place to spend time - does the article strengthen your world and give it definition and structure?   Consistency: I am an engineer irl, so it is really important for me for a world to be logical, consistent, and feasible. I want to see that you have gone at least one level of thinking below the top level concept. What are the in-world implications or consequences of this condition? Why is it important? How do in-world people respond to it? There's a rule in writing fantasy - ask only one major leap of faith (your world premise) from your readers, and once having made that leap, be consistent in the framework you have set. I'm looking for that consistency.   Story and Writing: I love a well written story. A good story grabs the reader and takes us into a world. This criteria evaluates how compelling an article is - does it make people in your world and the world itself come alive through well used language? Can I see the seeds of a story in your article, perhaps how the condition being described create joy or power or tragedy in your world? Even better, (and BTW not my expectation), does your article perhaps even tell a compelling or amusing story itself?   Uniqueness: I definitely like unique articles, but this criteria is the lowest value compared to the other criteria because for me, unique is just not enough to make a great article - execution counts. But when you have a well written article, that builds your world, is consistent, AND is unique, you really have knocked it out of the park.   Other Factors Completely Outside Your Control: For Summer Camp I had some great finalists to pick from for the material category. There were two that teetered back and forth, PrippyMontyPoppyCock's Firewood and quirillion's Time. Ultimately, I picked quirillion's article because it resonated with my life circumstances at that moment. You can't control things like that, and when you're having to choose between a couple pieces of great work, sometimes the deciding factor ends up being something that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the judge. All of which is to say - PLEASE look at the articles in my judging summary that I'll publish in January. I guarentee thare will be some great work in there that will resonate with you, and if you make that article, please know that I'm kinda a perfectionist, so you obviously have lots of talent and write a great piece.   That's the criteria. And yes, I am massively AR and I totally have a spreadsheet to track all this stuff. But you already knew that right?  

By the way...

On Getting Feedback
  One of the most difficult things about world building is the crickets. You work really hard on your world, and there's just no feedback at all most of the time. And understand, from a judges perspective, it's a lot harder to provide that feedback than it is to just judge, and there's a lot of articles to get through. If you desparately throw words into the template at 2am the night before World Ember ends in order to get your word count up, I totally get that, and I'm cool with it. Please know though, you aren't going to get feedback.   So, no promises on feedback. But if your article looks like you really spent time on it, and I think I have something that would help it be better, I might make a comment. It may just be encouraging, but it might also sound critical.   If I make a comment, and it hurts your feelings, that was not my intent. I am trying to be helpful. Paradoxically, the better your work is, the more likely the feedback may feel negative or (even be) nitpicky. But remember, world class gymnasts don't become olympic gold medal winners by only hearing how well they are doing. They get to be the best by hearing what they can improve. So if you get any input from me and if feels negative, take it as a sign that I totally believe in your work, I'm trying to help, and I'm rooting for your success.   And always, you are under NO obligation of any kind to agree with my feedback or use it. It's totally your imaginary world.  
And in Closing...
  I hope this helps you undertand my judging process. Every judge is different, but these are the things I look for. I hope you have a great World Ember - I'm looking forward to reading all your creative articles in January!   Now let's get out there, grab our keyboards, and GO WORLD BUILD!  


Cover image: by Undrey


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