Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Right Word/Call for Submissions/Contest

Mark Twain once wrote, The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Imagine a manuscript as a window for readers. The wrong words distort the view, leaving streaks and smears that make the reading difficult. Every writer experiences this in the first draft, but in revision we can create a spotless window by revising with words that make the meaning clearer and add resonance to the piece.

When choosing words consider the following:

Audience. Is the text age appropriate? Can a child understand the story? Could another word better describe the action or situation?

Setting. Do the words vividly describe the character’s world?

Dialog. Do the characters sound realistic? Does each piece of dialog carry the plot forward or help develop the character?

Subtleties. Does each word convey the exact meaning you want? Instead of hot, you might consider fiery, flaming, or feverish? Each word has a slightly different connotation and can give a more vivid detail.

Voice. Do the words form colorful phrases or make an emotional connection with the reader?

Writers have many choices in word selection. The difficult part is choosing the best words for the story.

Next week, I’ll discuss ways to improve word choice in writing.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
STRAND MAGAZINE We are interested in mysteries, detective stories, tales
of terror and the supernatural as well as short stories.
Stories can be set in any time or place, provided they are
well written, the plots interesting and well thought.
We are interested in stories of almost any length, but
preferably the 2,000-6,000 word range. However, we may
occasionally publish short shorts of 1000 words, and
sometimes we may consider even a short novella. At the
moment, our payment rate for stories is $25-150. No
submissions accepted by e-mail.
Details at

Contest for Student Writers:
For those under 18, grades 6-12 by US Standards. No reading
fee. Poetry or Short Fiction (under 20 pages). Deadline
February 1, 2012. First place $500. Second place $300.
Third $200. Entrant must be sponsored by a teacher in a
traditional high school or middle school classroom.
Deadline: February 1, 2012
Details at

1 comment:

  1. Great Twain quote!
    Words are magic and I find it as important what you leave out as what you add in. The "lightening" does not always mean more words.
    So true about the streaks and smears. Well put! Looking for clarity and