Nancy's Books

Sunday, February 6, 2011

“Fishing for a Contract,” part II, Fiction Contest, Scholarship for Mystery Writing

Here are more ways to cast a hook to catch an editor’s attention:

Start with action. Action doesn’t have to be a wild car chase or a boxing match. Action means beginning a story at a point where the main character will forever be changed. M. T. Anderson gets straight to the point at the beginning of Feed, "We went to the moon to have fun…” The beginning is no place for backstory or the history of the character.

Create an active, believable character. In Millicent Min, Girl Genius, author Lisa Yee depicts a young girl who does not understand how to make friends. Strong, active characters are involved in solving their own problems, and that involvement keeps the tension high and the story interesting. Introduce problems early and make life difficult for the character. Give the character flaws and allow the character to make mistakes as in Alexi Sherman’s The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian. Mistakes offer learning experiences in which the character grows.

Curiosity. Kids are naturally curious so writing a dramatic statement peaks their interests. If you add something gross the interest factor soars. In Chasing Redbird, Sharon Creech does both with, "Worms dangled in Aunt Jessie's kitchen." Laura Numeroff poses a curious situation in If You Give a Pig a Pancake.

Next week, I’ll post part III of this three-part series.

Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest
Submissions: February 1-February 28, 2011

Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship for Mystery Writing
Deadline: February 28, 2011

"The Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship for Mystery Writing seeks to nurture talent in
mystery writing - in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting." Open
to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Two scholarships up to $500 each will
be presented. "The scholarship may be used to offset tuition and fees for U.S.
writing workshops, writing seminars, or university/ college-level writing
programs. Applicants must select a specific writing class/workshop/seminar to
which scholarship funds would be applied." Check the site for details and the
application form.

Open to writers who are 30 years of age or younger at the time of submission.
Stories must be no more than 1200 words in length. No simultaneous submissions.
The journal will publish the winning story in its Winter 2012 issue, and the
author will win a scholarship to attend the 2011 Writers Workshop (June) in
Gambier, Ohio.


  1. For screenwriting structure, goto