Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, part 7/Calls for Submissions

A middle grade novel should revolve around a primary conflict. The main character tries to solve the problem or reach a goal but encounters more problems in the meantime. Once again, remember the adage: Treat you character badly; then treat him worse. Conflict drives the story. Conflict keeps the character engaged in the action and keeps the reader engaged in the story. The primary or long-term problem should not be resolved until the end of the story, but the short-term problems can be resolved along the way. In dealing with short-term conflicts, the character learns to cope with difficult situations, to change and grow, and resolve the primary issue. 

I recently heard a writer compare writing a novel to driving a car. You must keep your eyes on the distance to see the road signs, traffic lights, and on-coming vehicles. But just as importantly, you must focus on the up-close parts, as well: fuel gauge, speedometer, and radio (If you’re constantly changing channels to find the best classic song, as I do). Both are important aspects of the driving experience. 

To reach your destination, whether it’s a trip to the beach or writing a novel, your focus should be both long- and short-ranged. Keep those poor, unsuspecting characters in deep doo-doo. 

Next week, I’ll continue this series. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

Crashtest is a magazine by and for high school students. If you are currently a student in grades nine through twelve, we want to hear from you. Here are the details:
Crashtest publishes poetry, stories and creative non-fiction in the form of personal essays, imaginative investigation, experimental interviews, whatever, but please don’t send us the book report you wrote for English or your Speech and Debate abstract on why (insert trend) is (good or bad) for (insert interest group). In other words, we’re looking for writing that has both a perspective and a personality. We’re looking for writing that has something to say. Our editors are also all writers; we work in many different forms and have many different ideas about what makes writing “good.” As a result, we don’t have a specific kind of writing we’re looking to publish. If you write poetry that rhymes, great!, as long as you do it well. If you write short stories in which characters grow wings and fly around the town’s bell-tower, great!, as long as the story has the guts to pull it off.
Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for adult writers: 

FrostFire Worlds is a quarterly magazine for younger readers published by Alban Lake Publishing in February, May, August, and November. FrostFire Worlds publishes original science fiction and fantasy short stories, poems, art, articles, reviews, and interviews. Preferred are adventure stories, space opera, and magic opera [like space opera, but fantasy]. Also preferred are stories that take place on other worlds. Stories must have the following: characters the reader cares about, plots and subplots, and settings that draw the reader into them. Must have.

Submission guidelines at

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