Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trimming a Manuscript/Contest/Calls for Submissions

Writing in all genres involves slicing and dicing words to get to the heart of the story. Gardeners prune apple trees by cutting some of the branches. The tree becomes stronger, takes on a better shape, and produces more fruit simply by cutting the parts that interfere with growth. Writers also need to slice and dice words, phrases, and even paragraphs that diminish the story.

Some writers use this equation to trim their work: First Draft-10%=Second Draft. Cutting ten percent during revision seems like a waste of good words and hard work, but you’ll find that the first draft is never your best work. Allow your first draft to be as long as you need it to be. Then set a word limit and cut the unnecessary words. Some need to cut much more than others. Every writer is different and every book is different.

So what do I cut?

Begin with action or where the character’s life is about to change instead of a long build-up in the first chapter.

Use dialog to develop the character and to move the story forward. If the dialog doesn’t do either, remove it.

Many dialog tags can be deleted. If the reader can figure out who is talking, omit “he said.”

Point a critical eye to detailed descriptions. Give the reader enough information to form a mental picture but every detail of a setting can slow down the story and become boring reading.

Telling rather than showing uses excessive words. Show the reader the action rather than telling.

Concise, tight writing makes editors smile. Review your manuscript with scissors in hand.

Next week I’ll discuss more ways to cut out unnecessary words.

Contest for Adult Writers

Inspired by Tagore: International Writing Competition
“This year sampad is delighted to be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore with Inspired by Tagore, an international writing competition.Tagore was a hugely influential South Asian poet and many sampad projects have celebrated his legacy or been sparked by a line of his poetry….There are 2 categories: one for writers aged between 8 and 15, one for writers aged 16 and over. Entries can be poetry, short stories or reportage, and writers can submit up to 6 pieces of work, maximum length 400 words, using Tagore’s poetry and writing as a starting point….There will be a special prize for the overall winners: Best writer in 8 to 15 category will receive GBP 200 and best writer in 16 and over category will receive GBP 300. All winning writers will be published.”
Deadline: January 31, 2012
Details at

Call for Submissions for Young Writers

Stone Soup
is made up of stories, poems, book reviews, and art by young people through age 13. Although all the writing we publish is in English, we accept work from all over the world.

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