Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel/Call for Submissions/Call for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series, Writing a Middle Grade Novel.

Let’s focus on pacing. Like movies, some books are loaded with action-packed thrills; others reveal bit-by-bit action in slow motion. The flow of the plot is called pacing. One key to good writing is to determine the pace of your story. Too much narrative may slows the story down to a stall. Too much dialog my move it along at too snappy a pace. Both are needed. Dialog helps to develop the character and promote the plot. Narrative shows action and setting details. Finding a balance for your novel is vital to great storytelling. Here are some elements to consider: 

Open the story with action or an interesting event that will hook the reader. The first line should instantly intrigue, or amuse, or create thought.  

Backstory, such as a character remembering something that has already happened, will not engage the reader as much as the reader seeing the action as it takes place. One rule that many writers use is to start on the minute the character’s life is different. That means to start in the middle of the action, at a place that is a big moment in the character’s life. The snazzy word for this is medias res, translated to “in the middle of the action.” Use narrative and dialog to provide past details as they are needed by sprinkling them throughout the text.

Avoid the informational dump. This often happens at the beginning of a story where an author introduces a character’s background. If you’ve ever been told that you story actually begins on the second or third page, because that’s where the action is, you probably have added too much background information in the opening.
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Highlights Current Needs:
Authors may send their work directly to the editors whose current needs are listed below. Manuscripts should be sent to (Editor's Name), Highlights, 803 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431.
Fiction for Beginning Readers (Ages 6 to 8), up to 500 words, Joëlle Dujardin, Senior Editor
Fiction for Independent Readers (Ages 8 to 12), up to 800 words, Joëlle Dujardin, Senior Editor
Crafts, up to 150 words, Annie Beer, Editorial Assistant
One-Page Activities, up to 275 words, Linda Rose, Associate Editor
Puzzles, Games, Recipes, and Activities, Linda Rose, Associate Editor
Nonfiction for Beginning Readers (Ages 4 to 8), up to 500 words, Debra Hess, Senior Editor
Gallant Kids, up to 400 words, Debra Hess, Senior Editor
Science, 800 words (two-page features), 400 words (one-page features), 50 words (activities), Andy Boyles, Science Editor
History and World Cultures, up to 800 words, Carolyn Yoder, Senior Editor
Submission guidelines and article details at


  1. Pacing is a problem for many writers. I work hard on it and am not sure I get it right. Good reminders. Thanks.

  2. Pacing is so important in novels and short stories. Thanks for the tips and the links to submission opportunities.

  3. I agree, pacing is difficult but key to holding the interest of the reader. Good luck with the submissions.