Exactly right. Having a theme removes an element of favouritism based on comprehension of the subject matter and general disposition towards said matter, and provides slightly more of a challenge to the contestants. However, grammar, originality and vocabulary are definite parts of what makes up a good piece of writing. Basically, we want to narrow the field down a bit as much for our own convenience of judging as to increase the challenge, but we will endeavour to judge based on the quality of the work alone. I hope you all appreciate that judging something like this is a subjective matter.
I'm assuming that the judges will be judging on grammar, originality, and vocabulary, among others, AND your ability to write to the theme.
Obviously a well-written piece is a well-written piece, regardless of whether it's to the theme or not; it's more of a challenge to write to a theme is all.
Anyway, I am now declaring this writing competition begun. The theme is 'isolation/separation' (they go together pretty well, but you only need to use one of them) and the limit is 1500 words, with a 5% margin of error. The closing date and time will be Saturday 2nd May at 00:00 British Summer Time. If anyone wants to say what that is in American time, feel free.