Open letter to Wadadli Pen Finalists

(and all budding writers)

Each of this year’s Wadadli Pen entries has been evaluated by no less than three judges. As judges who are also writers, we respect the talent, skill and hard work involved in the creative process; as well as the value of constructive criticism. As Wadadli Pen is intended to be a development programme, helping to build on your skills, talent, hard working and daring, we hope our critiques of the final pieces – the only pieces to receive such careful attention – is taken in that spirit.

Chief Judges’ General Comments

Overall, our chief judge felt there was need for greater editing of submitted pieces. As we have stressed time and again in the online workshop at and in our guidelines, it’s hardly ever a good idea to submit your first draft. It’s important to make sure that what comes to us has been through the process of review and revision, and represents your best effort.

While there is nothing wrong with revisiting old ideas, the challenge is to approach them in fresh ways; and overall our chief judge found there could have been more originality in thought and execution. We referenced daring earlier, because writers, like all artistes, don’t play it safe.

She also felt that some writers over thought their pieces. Often times in writing, if it’s forced, it will feel so.

Her general advice is to read more widely, dig deeper, and avoid clichés and overwriting. In time, hopefully, these are issues we will be able to work through in workshop – something we hope will be an expansion of the Wadadli Pen programme once we can source funding for it. But they’re tips you can put to use in the mean time.

I will add, finally, do not be discouraged. Take all suggestions in the intended spirit, and commit to growing as a writer; it is something we, the judges, have to do each day, as well.

To view the Short List, go here.

As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under Wadadli Pen 2013, Wadadli Pen News

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