Is there anything worse than getting a critique from a competition judge who didn't like your story? Mostly, I appreciate feedback, even if I don't agree with it, because it makes me look at my work with fresh eyes, and maybe consider things that hadn't occurred to me before. However, I once had my entry to what purported to be an open competition with no theme or restrictions on style or subject, returned with the comment that "I used to like fantasy stories in my teens, but then I decided that I wanted to say something." When I read it, I'm sure all those clichés about being purple with anger, seeing red and having steam coming out of my ears applied.
    It wasn't that the judge had rubbished my story that made me choke, it was the fact that he'd rubbished a whole genre. Lots of people are sniffy about genre writing, particularly science fiction, fantasy and romance. They claim it's shallow and has no literary worth, by which I suppose they mean that it's badly written. What rot! Of course, there are 'bad' fantasy and romance stories, but you don't have to look far to find poorly written mainstream or literary work. Who could possibly claim that Marge Piercy's science fiction novel, Body of Glass or Peter Beagle's fantasy, A Fine and Private Place aren't beautifully written and relevant, or don't contain as many truths as William Shakespeare? And while I'm mentioning the Bard, two of the greatest plays ever written are his fantasy, The Tempest, and his romance, Romeo and Juliet.
    People who turn their noses up at writing simply because it is in a popular genre, without giving the story or the way it's written a chance, shouldn't judge competitions unless they make that prejudice known in the guidelines/rules. That way they'll save everyone's time–and writers spending money on entry fees when they don't stand a chance of winning.