Tips for competition entrants
Rockwatch Rockstar Competition (16 years and under)
Show us your creative genius: your entry can be artwork, a book, 3-D modelling, a collage, sewing, knitting or crochet, a puzzle, writing, photographs, a computer project, but whatever, it must have a geological theme.
There’s also a Media Category and if you submit a video or film it must not be longer than 5 minutes.
Inspiration can come from anywhere! And when it comes, don’t loose the thought. Start collecting the facts and materials you need to create your masterwork. Take your time – think about it and search for exactly the things you need to make your masterwork a winner!
You can enter a geological short story, a report of a day out geologising, a description of your collection, or an illustrated book you have made. You may think of other possibilities. Turn them over in your mind. Try them out.
This could be a painting, a model, papier mache, wood carving, sewing, crocheting, for example. It’s a good idea to choose materials which can stand up to travelling to the Rockwatch office (and back again) without damage.
Take time planning, designing and making your artwork. First think about what medium you’ll use. Choose materials which will really express your ideas. Remember that if you use pencil for drawing, that your images may be competing with the much brighter medium of paints, pastels or even material, so make the soft quality of pencil work for you.
Plan your artwork – it takes time. Let it fill the space you’ve given it – for example, curl the tail of a dinosaur so you can get the drawing of the animal bigger and fill the page better. Consider putting in a scale to show how large the real thing was.
Once your idea is born, check if you can make it happen with your existing software.
One or two out-of-focus photos of even the most rare fossil are not going to impress the judges. Practice with the camera to get the best lighting and background. This can take many hours until you are satisfied with the results. Plan a theme for your photos.
If your entry is about your collection, why not send in one or two of your prize specimens rather than the full collection. You can send descriptions, drawings or photographs or make a film of you giving us a tour.
It’s clear to the judges that winning entries in the past have taken many hours of careful planning and execution. Now it’s over to you to send us the very best you can do.
Rockstar 2020 competition, media Rockstar 2020 and Young Writer 2020 competitions are entered using the same entry form.
Rockwatch Young Writer Competition (16-18 years)
Ideally word length should be not more than 1000 words, (1500 absolute maximum). It’s a good idea to include some photographs and illustrations that are relevant to your article. We would also like a photograph of you which would be used alongside the article if you are the winner.
The winning entry is normally published in the magazine of the Geologists’ Association. The quality of the illustrations will not be judged, but the editor of the GA magazine will want illustrations for the winning entry, which preferably are your own.
The judges are looking for something readable which relates to geology. So make your article interesting, exciting, or informative, or a mixture of all these qualities. Remember that the judges are either professional geologists, or long-term amateurs, so they know the basics, like how old the Cambrian is so don’t take up space explaining these. However, your readers may not know the geological details of the subject you choose so keep your explanations clear and precise.
How to find a subject?
Inspiration usually comes when you least expect it. Turn over ideas in your mind, and make some notes. Then get on with life for a day or so, and suddenly, an idea will arrive when you’re on a bus, playing football, having a maths lesson or something quite unrelated. Don’t let this idea escape your memory – it’s the one you want, so keep a small notebook handy to jot down ideas as they occur.
How to tell the story?
Look at what other writers do. Read newspaper and magazine articles critically. Look for styles and story lines which suit you and your story. Pick the best ideas from those writers. Don’t use long words unnecessarily; your readers will not be impressed, instead they’ll get cross, turn the page and read something else.
When you use geological information check it and re-check it for accuracy. If you use fossil names, remember to use italics for the specific Latin names. Run your text through the spell-check on your computer. Ask friends to check the text for spelling, misprints and so on.
Editing your work
All professional writers re-write many times, so don’t be timid about altering what you first wrote. It’s a good idea to leave the text for a week and come back fresh to it, when you may notice improvements you could make. Get your friends or family to read the text and ask them if they enjoy it; they may offer advice – but remember, you’re the writer, and you don’t have to take it.
At the end, you might wish to quote one or two authors’ works which you’ve used extensively in putting together your text. Or note websites which could be interesting to pursue your subject further.
Above all, enjoy writing – love and respect your work, and devote to it the time and care it deserves. This way you can become Rockwatch’s Young Writer winner for 2020.
Rockstar 2020 is sponsored by Anglo American Group Foundation.