Short Fiction Grading Rubric

Judging Criteria:





The story has:
– a well-developed setting.

– unique and fleshed-out characters.

– an original and creative plot.

Fair attempts are made to develop a rich setting, interesting characters, and a creative plot. However, more could have been done.

Flaws/problems with the story’s development render it difficult to follow.  For example, character motivations may be unclear or difficult to discern; setting may be inadequately described; etc.


The story has:

– an identifiable theme and resolution.

– a logical flow of action/events.

The piece includes some (but not all) of a strong theme, an identifiable resolution, and a logical flow of action/events.

Missing elements interfere with the flow of the piece, making it feel meandering or lacking clear purpose.  


– The author demonstrates a strong and unique personal voice.

– Creative/ thoughtful word choices are evident.

– Descriptive details are used.

– Sentence structure is clear and easy to understand.

– The author experiments, as appropriate, with various sentence lengths and structures.

Efforts to create a personal style are evident.  The author uses some creative language and description, but more work was needed.    

The piece is dominated by conventional ideas, language, and structure. Anyone could have written it.


The piece
– contains accurate spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

– conforms to the expected format stipulations (legible typeface, 12 pt. font, double-spaced).

The piece
– contains noticeable inaccuracies, but the language can still be understood. 

– does not conform to the expected format, but is reasonably formatted and clear to read.

Inaccuracies and non-traditional formatting make the piece difficult to understand.


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