Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Writing a Middle Grade Novel, Calls for Submissions

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

Another way to keep the pace of the story moving along is look at the scene as if you’re a photographer. Think visually. What is happening close-up? Take the reader on the journey so s/he can feel, see, hear, taste, and touch the scene. Is there a tear in the dress, is the whimpering that of a dog or a child, or is the burr sticky? Let the readers discover these things as if they were there. 

Pacing differs with the scene. Long sentences tend to slow the pace and short sentences speed the action. If there is a fight scene, short sentences, even one-word can be powerful. Pow! Onomatopoeia (crash, bang, boom) add zip to the story. Sentences can be shortened by eliminating prepositional phrases to move the action along at a faster clip. Instead of writing “the rooms in the cave” state "the cave’s rooms.” 

Action verbs and strong nouns work better because they are specific. Avoid the overuse of adverbs and adjectives. He ran quickly doesn’t work as well as He sprinted.

Cliffhangers are great devices to speed up the action. When a chapter ends with lots of suspense, the reader quickly turns the page to find out what happens next. 

Short chapters and scenes are effective ways to speed up the story. 

Slow scenes and fast-paced scenes both work well. The key is to use the best speed and rhythm for each scene in your manuscript. 

With this blog I’m resuming Call for Submissions for Young Writers. I’ll continue posting these through May, 2015.  

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
The Louisville Review. The Children's Corner, work by students in K-12.
Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Drama

Submissions of previously unpublished manuscripts are invited. Prose submissions should be double-spaced and page numbered. Poetry (up to 5 poems) need not be double-spaced. Drama should appear in standard format. Include name on every page. Reply time is 4-6 months. Our editorial staff reads year around. Submissions are recycled. Poetry and prose should be submitted in separate envelopes.
Submission guidelines at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
ASK is a nonfiction magazine for children 7-10 years old who are curious about science and the world they live in. Each edition of ASK is built around a central theme on some question or concept in the natural, physical, or social sciences, technology, mathematics, history, or the arts. ASK introduces kids to the joys of thinking, writing, and observing scientifically, and presumes them to be active participants in the ongoing search for better knowledge about the world.
ASK articles should read as engaging nonfiction, not like school textbook or encyclopedia material. Intended to be accessible and appealing to newly independent readers (grades 2-5), the ideal ASK article should also be interesting to any general adult reader. ASK looks for articles that are concrete, specific, and relevant to this age group. They should tell a good story, with an emphasis on ideas rather than just facts.
Submission guidelines:


  1. Pacing is always difficult. Thanks for a helpful post.