Top 4 and Judging Process

Getting to the Gama❤Phile Writers’ Competition finalists and the judging process:

We at the final stages of the Gama❤Phile Writers’ Competition. We are truly honoured to have our illustrious judges on our Gama❤Phile Writers’ Competition judges’ panel. We were humbled by their willingness to contribute towards the realisation of the vision for creating a platform that uses technology and social media to discover and celebrate otherwise unrealised writing talent. They have agreed, in support of a great purpose, to share their wisdom with us. We working with them to innovate around using the power of the reading public to contribute to influencing the stories that rise to the top and are presented to publishers and other players in the storytelling space for publishing and propagation. However, before we go into how the finalists’ manuscripts will be assessed, let’s remind you of the journey that’s brought us to where we are:  

The journey:

It’s been an exciting ride and we are in the middle of the judging phase where have asked the legendary Gcina Mhlophe, the celebrated author Tsitsi Dangarembga and the brilliant, bold young author Novuyo Tshuma for their involvement in narrowing things down to the top entry. So, what has happened so far? The first phase involving the submission of competition entries, was completed on 04 March 2019 in line with deadline for the submissions. After pre-screening the entries for compliance with the competition rules, 35 submissions qualified. The 35 submissions went into the second phase, where we invited Gama❤Phile readers to vote for their favourite entries by reviewing and rating the 35 qualifying entries on The reviews and ratings were the basis for determining the stories that ended up on the leaderboard. The Top 10 on the leaderboard on 06 April were the Top 10 for the competition. The Top 10’s full manuscripts were assessed against the competition rules, publisher’s requirements and interests in the third phase. Those that were aligned were provided to the judges’ panel for assessment and scoring. In addition, one selection was made as the Editors’ Choice for inclusion in the judges assessment process. The winning entries will be announced at the Gama❤Phile Platform launch in July 2019.  

Who are the finalists?

  1. Top 3 manuscripts:

    1.   Through Her Eyes by Ayanda Xaba;
    2.   Don't Blink by Bubele Retshe; and
    3.   Loss: A collection of short stories by Tumelo Moleleki.
    Follow the links to get immersed in the synopses, first 3 chapters of the stories and get a sense of the writers through their profiles;
  2. Editor’s Choice Entry

    1.   Gutting Instincts and Other Stories by Jarred Thompson.
    2. Follow the link to check out the synopsis, first 3 chapters of the story and writer’s profile.

What’s the approach to assessing the entries?

Judges are reading and scoring the finalist entries. The finalists are a mixture of novels and short story collections. Feedback on the full length manuscripts (novel or short story collection) is expected by 17 June 2019. The finalist entries are being rated across criteria including prospective literary significance (the potential for the story to shape society and humanity by changing mind-sets or illuminating certain topics), stanning (how much they love the story), immersion (the ability of the story to hook the reader and engage them throughout i.e. results in deep mental involvement or is “unputdownable”), recommend-ability (the likelihood that the they would recommend the story to others) as well as the following more technical storytelling elements:
  1. Opening/Ending;
  2. Suspense;
  3. Conflict;
  4. Dialogue;
  5. Plot;
  6. Setting;
  7. Characters;
  8. Originality; and
  9. Language.
The finalist manuscripts and scores will be presented to Pan Macmillan for consideration.

Want to find out more about the judges?

Check out the profiles we’ve put together Final results will be announced at the Gama❤Phile Launch on 20 July 2019