Congratulations! You've decided to enter the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship. This competition was one of the most challenging and rewarding events in my SCA career. I hope you will find it as rewarding.|
The competition currently requires that you enter at least five projects (NOTE: now a minimum of four(4)) distributed throughout the arts and sciences. That makes the scope quite daunting, and makes it important to get the most possible out of your entries. There are a few things that you can do to make your entries work better.
First is to remember that your entries don't stand in isolation. I'm not saying that you should unify all your entries into a single theme or object, but rather that you should consider the scope and breadth of your entries (and of your abilities) to generate entries that work together to demonstrate the breadth of your skills.
Second is to remember that the ooh-ahh effect is very real. Although not the primary consideration in judging, having an entry with real punch will help considerably. You probably won't be able to make 5 projects that all have large ooh-ahh value, but make sure that the entry closest to your domain of specialization uses your skills to their fullest extent to create an entry that is spectacular. It's only fitting that your strongest skills generate your strongest entry.
Your documentation is important too. There are a few things that you can do to make it easier on the judges. First off, remember that this documentation is for them. They will have less than 15 minutes or so to go over your documents. Although it is tempting to write everything you know, you have to be selective and make sure that the important points can be found quickly. Big headings are important. The hardest part of writing the documentation is to cut it down to a manageable size. Presentation counts too. Print is easier to read than handwriting. Section headings help to locate information quickly. I'd say that tables of contents are useful, but if your documentation is long enough to need one, then it's too long.
Your bibliographies are vitally important. They show what works you referred to, and give some insight into why you did things in certain ways. But again, you have to be selective. It's easy (though time-consuming) to generate a long bibliography of documents that are marginally related to your project. Again, you need to trim it. If you are citing three secondary sources that each cite the same primary source, use only one of them, or better yet, find the primary source and cite it. You might want to annotate your bibliography slightly to say what's useful about the source.
Now for a few things that shouldn't have a big effect on your entries, but do. Portability is important. A project in front of the judge has much more impact than photographs of the object. If you can't bring the entry with you then you have to spend a lot more effort on its presentation. How you present the object has a huge impact. Present it confidently - you know more about the thing you made than any of the judges. The judges aren't going to ask you trick questions - if they ask they honestly want to know the answer.
There is one aspect to this competition that is frequently neglected. You will need some sort of support - both physical and emotional - to get through this. You'll need this not only on the day of the competition, but also some time before, as your entries come together. It's difficult to go through so much work with little feedback. A pat on the back every once in a while goes a long way.
On the day you will need someone to make sure you are getting fed and watered. If you make it to the finals it will be even more important. The time spent waiting for results can be excruciating. Make sure you have someone there who can make it easier on you.
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