This is my second year on the Ink & Insights team and I think tend to be on the more generous side with scores simply because a low score is a low score. I have a hard time demolishing someone by marking any aspect of their story extremely low. So I look at it as a coaching job. If I like the concept and the direction the story is going, but the writing is too loose, I try to encourage that writer to stay with it and work on the execution.
Sometimes I think that a wide spread in the scores for the same manuscript has more to do with how a judge applies the numbers and does not necessarily reflect a wide difference in the suggestions and/or flaws discussed. When judges get an opportunity to discuss amongst themselves, there is often strong consensus regarding the strengths and weaknesses of a manuscript. The larger difference of opinion is in the actual scores assigned.
This year we added a synopsis, which was not provided in 2016. Wow, what a difference this can make! It is very helpful for the judges to understand what the writer is trying to do and where they are headed with the plot and with the story.
The synopsis helps me judge not just technique and what I read, but also if the concept has legs and is just weak on execution (and thus can be tightened up or maybe even re-ordered to make it fly). I personally find that this is key for some manuscripts where there may be a slower lead in and where that might even be appropriate.
It also tells me that the writer has a clear sense of what they want to accomplish and I think (I hope) my comments can be more pointed and useful if I have a reasonably clear idea of where the writer is going. It speaks to overall insight and to the main motivations and goals of the protagonist also.
Linda — Second year as an Ink & Insights judge