Are competitions a true reflection of talent, or is luck, not talent, the major factor of success?
This is a very good question and one I've been pondering now for a month or two, trying to decide if I should stop entering competitions and concentrate on submitting my work to producers, etc. I have come to the conclusion that if you lack talent then you're never going to win, after all talent is what screenwriting competitions are looking for, and a good script and writer will eventually rise to the top. However, I do believe that luck plays a far greater role than most people might think and that talent, to a certain extent, takes a back seat in writing competitions, especially in earlier rounds.
What makes a script stand out? I don't need to tell you this again, because most bloggers have discussed this at some point, and to be truthful the answers are pretty much the same. I feel it's basically all down to what the reader likes, or doesn't like. Your script may be the bee's balls, a perfect example of the techniques of writing, but if yours is the twenty-third TV drama featuring a circus clown with a sideline in solving local crimes he has read in a row then he might not look upon your script with too much favour. If yours had been the first on the pile chances are you would have made the cut.
It might also be the case that the reader hates your style of writing, your subject matter or even you in particular, where as everyone else in the known universe loves what you do. The reader may simply have got out of bed on the wrong side that morning and decided he wasn't going to like anything he read that day. As a writer you can narrow down the possibilities of rejection through hard work, research and practice, but you can never account for the luck factor no matter how hard you try. Luck is a bugger I can tell you.
So after much thought I have decided to limit the competitions I enter this year to save myself a great deal of frustration and cash. I don't enter them looking for affirmation either, because I don't need it, nor want it. I write for myself, not what I think people might like.