Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Idea to Story, Part IV/Calls for Submissions

This is part IV of the continuing series based on ideas to develop your story.

Add dialog to make the characters come alive. Dialog should sound real, not be real. When people talk, our words usually flow freely out of our mouths but the conversation can be boring reading. We often add uh and um and get sidetracked in our thoughts. Dialog should stay focused and either promote the plot or help develop the character.

Play with your idea and have fun with it. All writing has preliminary stages in which you discard some ideas and keep others. Twist and turn your idea into different plots to discover what works and what doesn’t. Give your ideas time to incubate and grow. If you’re not having fun with the story, the reader probably won’t either. Figure out the methods that work for you and keep writing.

Before sending your chapter book/middle grade/young adult manuscript to an editor, take a new look at the first three chapters and make sure you polish them. Publishers will probably ask for the first 10-25 pages or up to the first three chapters. Always check the submission guidelines on the publisher’s website.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Ladies’ Home Journal is a community that shares stories — and we’re dying to hear yours. If you win our essay contest, we’ll give you $3,000 and the chance to have your essay published in the Journal. You’re free to interpret the topic in whatever way you like, but remember that we value creativity and clarity above all.

Essays will be judged on their emotional power, originality, and the quality of their prose. They should be no more than 2,000 words and ideally typed or written in a Microsoft Word document.

You can enter the contest by e-mailing your submission as an attachment (with your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address) to or by mailing a copy to Personal Essay Contest, Ladies’ Home Journal, 805 Third Ave., 26th Fl., New York, NY 10022. Entries are due by December 7, 2012.

Call for submissions for young writers:

Skipping Stones. Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 750 words and poems to 30 lines. We love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission.

Submission guidelines at

Check out more contests on my blog:

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