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What I Think Would Make Vocal.Media Better

Adding a Section Where Judges Explain Why They Favored Certain Stories

By Andrea LawrencePublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Top Story - August 2022

What Would Make Vocal.Media Challenges Better?

I wish on Vocal.Media challenges that judges would write stories about the winners. I would like a section from judges called: "This Is Why We Loved This Story." Occasionally, I read the challenge winner stories, and I'm impressed. I get why the person won. I'm in awe of them. I want to leave that person a comment of congratulations... and I have more to say than "congratulations."

Sometimes I try to read the challenge winner stories, and I notice too many story and grammar issues... and I end up losing interest in the story. I stop reading it because it feels like a waste of time. For me, the entry might have come off like what I'd consider a "C-" story that a college freshman wrote for their short story class.

Though the content of a story is more important than lower-order concerns like grammar, there are definitely certain rules if broken that cause me to distrust the authority of the writer. I'll also think to myself—surely, there were better stories than this.

I think if judges had a "This Is Why We Loved This Story" section it would help people in the community to know what actually pleased the hearts of the judges. What did they see that made the story special? Why was it the judges' favorite? What was the exact sentence that let them know the story was great?

You can turn the comments off on these posts if you're worried it will stir up disgruntled writers. Granted, I would hope judge explanation stories would soothe the woes of disgruntled writers.

Building Trust and Clarity

Adding a section where judges explain their choices would actually help me to have faith in Vocal.Media. I would know they're diligent about selecting a story, and they want me to understand why it was an important story. I'm fairly certain Vocal.Media wants to build trust in its community. They've written content before about how stories are selected for prizes and top stories.

Now I want specific stories from the staff in regards to challenge winners. I want to know what made it work for you. Was it a particular concept that came off fresh? Was it really funny to you? Did it make you cry? Was the language intoxicating?


Vocal.Media reminds me somewhat of the British show Taskmaster. If you haven't heard of this show, you should find clips of it on YouTube right now. In fact, I'll put a clip right here:

The premise is very simple: five comedians are given the same task, there is an umpire to help guide them through the task, and there is a judge who decides which comedian did the task the best.

The tasks are usually ridiculous: who can get an egg up the highest without breaking it; who can impress a small town mayor the most; who can make the most satisfying sound; who can best recreate a video game in real life; who can move a boulder the farthest within an hour?

Vocal.Media is similar, but the focus is on writing tasks. Of course, the comedy show has far zanier tasks and there is a budget to help the comedians pull off their hilarious ideas.

In Taskmaster, there is time spent to explain who won the challenge. They'll also spend time to make fun of those who cheated. I think Vocal.Media writers would benefit from hearing from the judges more. Tell us why a story won because sometimes it isn't obvious. I honestly believe stories will get better and better on this platform when writers know how to please the judges.

Vocal.Media, of course, isn't always about trying to please the judges. There is a great deal of joy in writing content that isn't meant for challenges. Sometimes people can really showcase their writing merits when they don't have a suggested premise before them.

We likely don't need an explanation for an entire anthology of winners. I think it will suffice people's interests if there was information about 1st and 2nd place winners. Sure, a quick sentence about runners-up would be nice too. I think this would also be great for the winners. If I won a challenge, I would definitely want to know what was it that made it shine... that way I could replicate my success.

Telling us more about why you love certain stories will help writers to get on the right track. Your explanations could also put a spotlight on the winners, which they deserve.

Lastly, telling us more about what you consider the best could let people know if Vocal.Media challenges are a good fit for them.

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About the Creator

Andrea Lawrence

Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.

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Comments (18)

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  • Sonia Heidi Unruhabout a year ago

    Gratifying that Vocal does now provide the judges' insight into what they loved about winning pieces. And now I know who to thank for that! Great essay.

  • Lost in Writingabout a year ago

    · Other payment methods 💰 · More formatting options 🔅 · An Android app · An occasional challenge for non-Vocal+ members 😆

  • Chua Yuan Hengabout a year ago

    Comments are the validations for these winning stories. Story about how good a story is, maybe too cluttering.

  • Deasun T. Smythabout a year ago

    I agree with your questions.

  • New contributor here and checking out others articles. I was drawn to this because I know nothing about Vocal really and learned a perspective from your article. I agree with what you said. I would love to know more about why one article is chosen over the other. It would help us to know what the goal is

  • WOAabout a year ago

    I couldn't agree more! Some of my favorite literary journals have a section where either the authors get to explain something about their story or their connection to the genre (Rattle) or have a section where they talk about what they love about the works they pick (I can't think of one off the top of my head), Frontier and Palette both have sections where they tell why they loved poetry they found in other journals. Similarly I'll look at pieces they accepted and be like, oh yessss, I can definitely see that. but at others like, why the heck did this make it through hundreds of pieces? I've found it a new take on the work when I can see it through the eyes of the editor what spoke to them. I've never entered a vocal contest but what you're saying here is something I've thought many times about poetry journals, especially the ones I love, so I can imagine that its applicable here.

  • Tracy Willisabout a year ago

    Thanks for taking the time to publish your perspective. Writing is so subjective and I’m sure the judges have a huge challenge in choosing the “best.”

  • Alice Abyss2 years ago

    I think this is a good idea, because many writers look to winners of previous challenges for inspiration.

  • Martin Thomas2 years ago

    Great post

  • Gremmerz2 years ago

    Yes transparency and ease of understanding are important to build trust and a healthy community and cooperation. The good relation between the writers and judges depends on it so clearing up any confusion would be important. 🤔

  • Jessica Noel2 years ago

    Agreed, Andrea! I’d love to know why certain pieces win over others — not out of a sense of disgruntlement or entitlement, but just because I think it would be cool to know. I also think this would be great for the winners; we all love to have our strengths acknowledged!

  • Mcgrotha Brinker2 years ago

    Good writing

  • Sherlin Tangredi2 years ago

    I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. Your descriptions are so vivid.

  • Carol Townend2 years ago

    I like reading challenges including those who don't win, though I would love to hear what made the winning stories stand out too. I'd also love to hear the idea behind the story from the winners themselves.

  • Manisha Dhalani2 years ago

    Good point! I do like the readers insights feature on Vocal. Maybe a judge's insights?

  • Helen Stuart2 years ago

    a great idea

  • KJ Aartila2 years ago

    Yes! I agree. 😀

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