Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Omit the Boring Parts, No-Fee Writing Contests

Award-winning author Elmore Leonard gives this advice: I try to leave out the parts that people skip. How can we determine what parts of our writing to leave out of a story? Of course, figuring out the boring parts is difficult, but these ideas will help:

1. Begin a story with action. Start where the character’s world is beginning to change.
2. Eliminate unnecessary words. I recently wrote in a manuscript, he frowned his forehead. I only needed two words: he frowned. A member of my critique group pointed that out. I seem to catch those mistakes in other people’s writing but not in my own. That brings me to another point.
3. Have two or three people read your work and provide feedback.
4. Show action with words. In my book, THE MUNCHED-UP FLOWER GARDEN, I wrote the first draft with the phrase, James ran. In revision, I changed those words to James sure can make the dust fly as he picks them up and puts them down.
5. Up the tension in your story. If the reader is anxious to find out what is happening next with the character, they won’t be bored. Keep the character deep within a problem until the end of the story.

Here are two more no-fee contests:

1. chixLIT and chixLITtle are literary 'zines for girls aged 7 to 17.

It's easy to submit to either literary 'zine by and for girls. You must
be female to be published. If you are age 7 to 12, submit to chixLITtle;
if you are 13 to 17, send to chixLIT. Choose one or two of your best
pieces of writing-nothing too long: poem, short short story, review,
rant, love letter, song. (300-word maximum, please). Send in the body of
an e-mail to They prefer email, but if you MUST
send snail mail or a photo, use this:
PO Box 12051
Orange CA 92859

2. Thin Threads Upcoming Story Writing Contest

Should your story be selected and be included in one of the "Thin Threads"® book series, a permission fee of $100 will be paid.
Thin Threads is currently collecting stories in the following categories:
1. Thin Threads of Money & Hardship
2. Thin Threads of Business & Career
3. Thin Threads of Holidays & Celebrations
(including Romance/Valentines Day)
4. Thin Threads of Teens & Young Adults
5. Thin Threads: The Legacy Project – featuring fathers, mothers, grandparents
6. Thin Threads of New Moms & Dads
KIWI is looking for true, inspirational stories; 1200 words or less, that will make readers laugh, cry, or sigh
For details check out


  1. Great tips. It's great to have someone else look over your work too because as a writer, you get so close to your project that you don't see what others see sometimes.

  2. It's great to have a resource blog for the no-fee contests. I haven't decided if I truly oppose the contests that charge (like some writers that feel all contests should be free), but as a college student, I really appreciate that you search these out and post them.


  3. I just became a follower here also, Nancy.

    Thank you for searching out resources for writers.

    This is great information.

  4. Nancy, I just read several of your posts in connection with the Writers in the Sky Valentine Blog Chain, and am glad to have found you. Great tips, and I appreciate you listing the contests. Great info. -- Donna B. Russell,

  5. Excellent writing tips. I agree and strive to leave the boring stuff out of my books. :)

  6. Love this blog and love the tips. Great job!! Thanks.

  7. Great advice. I like have my manuscript looked over a few times.

  8. Thanks for the great tips. I will come back for more when I get a breather.
    Happy Valentine's DAy
    Lina Ballou

  9. These are very good tips. Thanks for sharing them.