Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Plot Revision

After you’ve finished the manuscript, it’s revision time. Does the plot work? Test the following:

Can you explain the plot of your story in one or two sentences? This is called a logline, a brief summary of the plot. Many editors are now asking for a logline in the submission process.

Look closely at the verbs. Use action verbs—hop, skip, jump—as opposed to is, are, was, were… Strong verbs don’t need adverbs [ly-words] to rev up the action. Screamed is stronger than yelled loudly.

Are the sentences active, rather than passive? Jim rode the bicycle is active. The bicycle was ridden by Jim is passive. Active places the character in charge of the action, rather than being acted upon.

Stories need a beginning, middle, and end. Did you start with action, where the character’s life is changed as a result of the plot or where the day is different from all the other days? Throw the character in the middle of the action at the beginning. Toss away any build up in describing the character or setting. This information can be woven into the plot as the story unfolds. Prune the beginning and up the action. In order to accomplish this, some writers discard the first one, two, or three chapters. It’s important to write them so the WRITER understands the character, but the reader doesn’t need to know as much about the characters as does the writer.

Next week, I’ll focus on dialog.

Call for submissions for adult writers:
“The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. The 2012 international contest will award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.” No entry fee.
Deadline: February 5, 2012.
Details at

Call for submissions for young writers:
Storybird.This service lets you create stories based on artwork on the site, then you can share your stories with friends, family and visitors to Storybird.
Details at

Check out more contests on my blog:

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