Sarton Women's Book Awards™: Rubric: Young Adult and New Adult Fiction

  1. Characters
    0-3 Points
    • Characters not well developed, without complexity, stereotyped, or inappropriate to YA readers
    • Characters' actions not well motivated, not very believable
    • Characters' speech and/or dialogue stilted, awkward, not very interesting

    4-7 Points
    • Female main character(s) who learn through experience, fairly appropriate to YA readers
    • Some characters fairly well developed; fair complexity, minimal stereotyping
    • Characters' actions fairly well motivated, generally believable
    • Characters' speech and/or dialogue fairly natural, interesting

    8-10 Points
    • Female main character(s) who learn and grow through experience in ways appropriate to age group
    • Most characters richly developed; striking complexity; no stereotyping
    • Characters' actions well motivated and believable
    • Characters' speech and/or dialogue natural, engaging

  2. Story/Plot
    0-3 Points
    • Beginning slow, doesn't pull the reader in; unsatisfactory conclusion
    • Storyline seems generally inappropriate to YA readers
    • Storyline poorly developed or confusing (unmotivated jumps in time, unclear sequence of events)
    • Story unfolds slowly, inadequately, or with too many distracting side-stories, making it difficult for the reader to stay engaged

    4-7 Points
    • Beginning interesting; conclusion fairly satisfying
    • Story fairly appropriate to age group, but some elements don.t fit
    • Storyline fairly easy to follow, even if complex (flashbacks, etc)
    • Story is developed in a way that moderately engages and holds the reader's attention most of the way through the book

    8-15 Points
    • Beginning fully engages the reader; conclusion very satisfying
    • Story entirely appropriate, interesting, suited to YA readers
    • Storyline clear, even if complex or otherwise challenging
    • Story is developed in a clear, compelling way that fully engages the reader's attention from beginning to end ("I couldn't put it down!")
    • Story makes a deep emotional impact on the reader and/or opens the reader's mind to new ideas
    • Story has strong, universal significance beyond its events and characters

  3. Gratuitous violence and sexuality In some YA stories, violence and sexually explicit materials (appropriate to YA readers) are necessary elements; in others they are used gratuitously and distract from the story. If you feel that this book contains gratuitous and offensive material that is inappropriate to this age group, subtract points according to the following scales. If this is not an issue in this work, skip this and go on to #4.
    • 0-3: some gratuitous, offensive violence / explicit material
    • 4-7: much gratuitous, offensive violence / explicit material
    • 8-10: too much gratuitous, offensive violence / explicit material

  4. Voice/Point of View
    0-3 Points
    • Narrative voice lacking, confusing, likely to distance YA readers from the story
    • Point of view confusing, shifting, uncontrolled

    4-7 Points
    • Narrative voice fairly clear but unremarkable, lacks appeal to YA readers
    • Point of view shifts somewhat confusing

    8-10 Points
    • Narrative voice distinctive, engaging, fresh
    • Narrative voice likely to be appealing to YA readers
    • Point of view clear, consistent.
    • If shifting POV, shifts clear, intentional, easy to follow

  5. Settings, Sense of Place
    0-3 Points
    • Settings are generally unimportant, uninteresting
    • Settings described inaccurately, insufficiently, or in clichés
    • Story establishes little sense of place
    • If historical, sense of time/place not adequately established.

    4-7 Points
    • Settings are fairly important and interesting
    • Settings likely to appeal to YA readers
    • Settings described with some clichés, with fair accuracy
    • Story establishes an adequate sense of place
    • If historical, sense of time/place adequately established

    8-10 Points
    • Settings fully and vividly described, accurately and without clichés
    • Settings strongly appealing to YA readers
    • Story establishes a strong, compelling sense of place
    • If historical, sense of time/place very well established

  6. Language, Imagery*, Style
    *Words that evoke sensory experience and emotional response

    0-3 Points
    • Word choices often seem wrong, inappropriate, or out of synch with the age group for which it is written
    • Profanity (if any) is not well motivated or is inappropriate to the character using it
    • Imagery is clichéd or confused
    • Writing style is bland, undistinguished

    4-7 Points
    • Word choices generally seem right, appropriate
    • Slang is used moderately well and suited to YA readers
    • Profanity (if any) is fairly well motivated and generally appropriate to the character using it
    • Imagery is sometimes clichéd but generally effective
    • Writing style is occasionally engaging, interesting

    8-10 Points
    • Word choices are appropriate and often striking
    • Slang is used well, often strikingly, and is well suited to YA readers
    • Profanity (if any) is well motivated and entirely appropriate to the character using it
    • Imagery is vivid, fresh, striking
    • Writing style is frequently engaging, compelling

  7. Language Conventions, Structure
    0-3 Points
    • Distracting errors in grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation
    • Sentence, paragraph, and/or chapter structure overly simple or overly complex

    4-7 Points
    • Some distracting errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation
    • Sentence, paragraph, and/or chapter structure generally acceptable

    8-10 points
    • Almost no errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation
    • Sentence, paragraph, and/or chapter structure artful

  8. Presentation
    0-3 Points
    • Unattractive cover art and book design
    • Cover art not appealing to YA readers
    • Interior layout design features (if any) distracting, unattractive, inadequate, unhelpful
    • Font and typesetting difficult to read or distracting

    4-7 Points
    • Adequate cover art and book design, fairly appealing to YA readers
    • Interior layout design features (if any) fairly adequate, usually helpful
    • Font and typesetting adequate

    8-10 Points
    • Attractive, appropriate, compelling cover art and design, appealing to YA readers
    • Interior layout design features (if any) striking, unusually helpful
    • Font and typesetting clear, well-chosen

  9. Bonus Points (1-4)
    • Does this novel stand out in a way you have not been able to acknowledge using the standards above? Is there something exceptional or original that was not accommodated in our categories? If so, please tell us about it in one or two sentences and add 1-4 bonus points. Please use this option sparingly. We invited you to judge because we trust you, and we know this is subjective.