Nancy's Books

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Critiquing a Manuscript Part I, Contests, Call for Submissions

Writers benefit from new eyes reading their words. Feedback from others provide valuable information, especially if the feedback is from writers who understand what to look for in a manuscript. Those who are critiquing should look at a piece in two ways: the overall story and specific parts, also known as the big picture and the small picture.

Overall story evaluation includes character assessment: Are the characters believable? Does each character have unique traits, such as speaking differently? Feedback I recently received stated that two of my characters were too much alike. This problem can be fixed with revision.

Does the plot have a narrative arc? This means does it have a logical beginning, middle and ending? Does the ending tie up all the loose ends? Did the story come to a logical conclusion? A few days ago, a friend read one of my manuscripts. When she finished, she said, “Ooooh, definitely,” and explained the “Ooooh” was for the surprise element and the “definitely” for the logical conclusion. Revise your manuscript to make your story original by adding an element the reader does not expect, yet is logical.

Story structure. Are the length of the chapters and word choice appropriate for the age level of the intended reader?

Theme. Does the story have a theme? If not, the editor will probably say the piece is too slight. Is the theme didactic, too preachy? If so, lighten up with revision.

How does the story read? Is it engaging and fun or somber and tension-filled. Either works, as long as the story remains interesting.

I’ll discuss the specific parts or small picture critiques in my next blog.

Contests and Call for Submission

The Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature
Sarabande Books, a literary press, presents an opportunity to focus on the fine literature the state of Kentucky has produced, bringing it to the nation’s attention. Poetry, fiction, or essays (all genres compete together) about Kentucky or by Kentucky authors. Winner must agree to travel to readings within the state. You are eligible if you were born in Kentucky or have lived there for at least two years, or your book is set in or about Kentucky. Poetry manuscripts should be 48-100 single-spaced pages, prose manuscripts 150-250 double-spaced pages. No scholarly works, children's literature, or genre fiction.
Manuscripts must be postmarked during the month of July.
Details at

Marie Alexander Poetry Series Contest
A prize of $500 and publication by Marie Alexander Poetry Series, an imprint of White Pine Press, will be given for a collection of prose poems by a U.S. poet. Submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages during the month of July. There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, e-mail, or visit the Web site for complete guidelines.
Marie Alexander Poetry Series, Book Contest, P.O. Box 5686, Louisville, KY 40255. Nickole Brown, Editor.
Deadline: July 31, 2010
Details at

Stone Soup, a magazine for children, pays on acceptance. Seeks nonfiction, fiction, fillers, photos/artwork. Subjects: Stories, poems, book review, art, for children up to age 13.
Details at

1 comment: