Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breathing Life into Characters, Part II, Contest, Calls for Submissions

Let your imagination soar as you try different possibilities for the character. Developing character traits does not mean the traits and everything you know about the character should go into the story. Give the reader only enough information about the character’s physical description to “see” the character. Remember, the reader doesn’t need to know as much about the character as the writer knows. Provide only the parts of the character that are relevant to the story. Glimpses often work better than all-out descriptions. The scar on his cheek was a constant reminder of how his hot temper could lead to danger. Maybe a scar is the only physical trait the reader needs to know about his face. Feed the reader small bits of character information at a time.

Allowing the reader to “see” the character through feelings, thoughts, and reactions to situations is a way to build empathy for the protagonist. Readers need to know the character’s motivation, what makes the character think and act in a particular way. Readers don’t need to know the eye or hair color unless the physical appearance plays a role in the plot. If you’re writing picture books, the illustrations reflect the physical appearance of the characters so the focus should be on the action in each scene.

Another way to breathe life into a character is dialog. Does the character have an unusual way of speaking? Is the character serious or funny, sad or happy, lively or subdued? Good dialog makes the characters practically step off the pages and become real. Give each character a different way of talking, with different speech patterns, so the reader can distinguish between them in a conversation. One could chat in short, snappy sentences and the other could speak in a longer, more detailed manner.

Part III will be posted next week.

Crab Orchard Review has announced its next special issue theme: “Crab Orchard Review is seeking work for our Summer/Fall 2011 issue focusing on writing exploring the people, places, history, and new directions that have shaped and are reshaping the American South. All submissions should be original, unpublished poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction in English or unpublished translations in English (we do run bilingual, facing-page translations whenever possible). Please query before submitting any interview. The submission period for this issue is August 10 through November 1, 2010. We will be reading submissions throughout this period and hope to complete the editorial work on the issue by the end of March 2011. Writers whose work is selected will receive $25 (US) per magazine page ($50 minimum for poetry; $100 minimum for prose) and two copies of the issue”.
Details at

Creative Kids
· We are looking for the very best material by students (ages 8–16). Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between 500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games, editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative work that can fit in the pages of the magazine.
· All work must be original. Upon acceptance of a work, we will request that a legal guardian sign our standard contract granting copyright permission. The contract will be mailed with notification of acceptance.
· Work may be submitted by the author, parent, or teacher. Each piece must be labeled with the child’s name, birthday, grade, school, and home address, and must include a cover letter.
· Each entry should be sent in its own envelope via first class mail. Do not send more than one submission in each envelope. Teachers, please do not send more than 3 submissions in each envelope.
· Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a response. Do not seal the SASE. Submissions without a SASE will not be considered. Submissions will not be returned. Teachers, please include a SASE for each piece of work submitted.
· Deadline: November 1, 2010
· Details at

New Voices Young Writers Competition
Eligible Students: This contest is open to students worldwide, attending public, private, or home schools. Students must be in junior high/middle school or high school in the U.S., or the equivalent grade level in their specific international school system.

Categories for entries: Entries may be a story, poem, or essay, written specifically for the contest or as a school assignment for grades 6-8 / ages 11 - 14 (Middle School categories) or grades 9-12 / ages 15 - 18 (High School categories). The sub-categories are Story (fictional Short Story), Poetry, and/or Essay (nonfiction).
Language: All entries must be in English.

Entry Limit: An entrant may enter no more than one (1) entry in each category, equaling a maximum of three (3) entries.

Entry Fee: None.

Deadline: All entries must be received between August 1, 2010 and October 20, 2010.
Judging: Entries will be judged by a panel of judges, including teachers, librarians, published writers, publishers, and editors. All entrants will receive feedback ONLY from the first-round judging panel. Finalists will move to a secondary judging panel.

Details at

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