Judging criteria for creative/dramatic presentations

Creative/Dramatic Awards (drama, poetry, nonfiction, fiction)

Creative/Dramatic entries require both a written piece (e.g. poetry, play script, fiction, creative nonfiction) and a presentation of that piece (e.g. play, reading, recitation). Although it is not required, a written introductory statement about your method, inspiration, and/or technique would be appreciated by the audience.

Evaluation Rubric

(1)   Generic aptitude

This criterion measures how clearly the writer/performer demonstrates familiarity with the formal conventions of his/her chosen genre. In other words, if the work is poetry, is there an awareness of sound and rhythm, the use of imagery, the purposeful breaking of lines. The criterion thus measures the craft of the piece.

(2)   Originality

This criterion measures the originality of the piece’s theme or structure. For example, if the work is fiction, are its themes stale or new, blunt or nuanced? Is the plot surprising yet satisfying, or predictable/improbable? In general, does the piece have something new to “say,” or a new way of “saying” something, or both?

(3)   Professionalism

This criterion measures the professionalism of the piece’s presentation or delivery. If the work is dramatic, then the presentation is the acting out/performance of the script. If the work is fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, then the presentation is the reading of the script for a public audience.



Generic Aptitude




The writer’s craft is sophisticated, demonstrated understanding of the genre and the work’s participation in that genre. The theme or structure of the piece is surprising, nuanced, in a way that recognizes audience expectation, delivering more than is expected. The performer demonstrates a studied preparation that enhances the audience’s experience of the piece.


The writer shows a passing awareness of the genre’s tradition and basic elements of craft, but at times fails to apply this knowledge or understanding to his/her own craft. The theme or structure of the pieces has moments of originality, but those moments don’t necessarily cohere. The result is uneven. The performer demonstrates a perfunctory attitude toward performing the piece in a way that neither enhances nor detracts from the audience’s experience of the piece.


The writer shows little understanding of the genre and the elements that define it. The theme or structure of the piece is hackneyed or simplistic. The performer demonstrates a lack of preparation or an inappropriate attitude that detracts from the audience’s experience of the piece.