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There are many key elements to a story, and when judging, our team evaluates entries based on the following:

- Immediate: There's a compelling hook/conflict, the premise is clear in the opening chapter and it gets to the point quickly. Get us into the action of the story as soon as you can. What will grab your reader's attention right away?
- Engaging: Your characters have strong motivations, we can already feel the core story engine pushing the narrative forward, and your chapters end in ways that get us excited to read the next chapter.
- Commercial: Consider the audience for this story's genre and what will appeal to them. Think about this genre's tropes and how you will embrace or subvert them. And remember to keep it accessible, even when dealing with deeper themes.
- Character: The main character(s) in your story propel it forward. We need to love them, love-hate them, or at least feel something for them in order to let them take us on a journey. If your characters have "it," we're way more likely to want to hop into the passenger seat.
- Hook: Give us a hook we can sink our teeth into, like a unique concept or a new twist on a beloved cliché, and give it to us right away with high stakes. The 'What If' of your story is that important spark that will turn a reader's head. It's definitely something we look for when choosing our Winners. The stories that intrigue us right from the get-go are the ones we're least likely to forget.
- Voice: When used well, your narrative voice can shape the story you want. This is where writers show off their creative artistry by weaving ordinary words into something magical. But we know it's easier said than done. That's why it's one of our key criteria for The Wattys.
- World: Your world is your playground, and while we're reading your story, it's ours, too. While great world-building doesn't have to be complicated, it should be specific, clear, and logical within the scope of your story. Give us too little and we're lost. Give us too much and we're buried under the details.
- Pacing: Be it a high-action thriller or a slice-of-life story, it's important to maintain a balanced pace. We want to be highly immersed in the actions of your characters, and irrelevant details, clunky descriptions and bad dialogue will take us out of the story. Effective pacing is crucial to the flow of your story and will keep us hooked.
- Readability: A key part of writing is the technical side, such as diction, spelling, and grammar. Are the words you're using correct? Do your sentences make sense? Do your paragraphs flow well? These are important factors that give both your readers and the Wattys judges a smooth reading experience while making it easier to immerse themselves in your story.

For more information on how to write a great story check out Wattpad's Story School.

The 2023 Watty AwardsWhere stories live. Discover now