J – Judge’s Criticism You’ve just had your lovely competition manuscript returned with a scathing critique that your dialogue isn’t natural, there’s no characterization, the plot is non-existent/terrible and the ending is awful. What can you do? The most useful tactic is to put your head under a pillow and cry for two hours. After you’ve recovered – this may take several days/weeks, but therapy is normally not required – read the judge’s notes again with a clear, calm head, reminding yourself that they were just trying to give well-meaning advice. Then, 1. Scream long and loud. 2. Decide to give up writing forever. 3. Change your mind and decide to improve in one area targeted by the kind-hearted judge for your next Earth-shattering entry. Repeat for five to ten years until you finally get on the shortlist.