Nancy's Books

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ways to Improve Writing Series/Calls for Submissions

Today, I’m continuing the series “Ways to Improve Writing.”
One way of looking at a story is to think of it as a series of scenes. A scene is a unit of drama that begins with a character placed in a situation that is problematic. The hero is thrown into a difficult world. As the character plows through the world and attempts to resolve the problem, s/he is faced with even bigger difficulties.
Linking scenes together forms a sequence with a beginning, middle, and end (or in writer terms, an inciting incident, a rising action and a climax.) In my book, AMAZING GRACE, a three-chapter scene sequence involved a bully. When that problem unraveled, another crisis erupted: another  three-chapter scene in which the character searched for her lost dog.
Some scenes in my book carried over into multiple chapters, but a scene can be limited to one chapter. When a sequence resolves the central problem and ties together all the loose ends, the story concludes. The central problem—the arc—that played through the entirety of AMAZING GRACE was the main character’s fear that her father may not return from WWII.
Of course, readers enjoy being surprised. Lead the reader into believing a sequence will solve the problem; then surprise the reader with the complete opposite: a bigger problem. By the end of the book, resolve the problems in a satisfying conclusion or give some suggestion of hope.
Call for Submissions for Young Writers:
ANNOUNCING HIGH SCHOOL WRITING CONTEST sponsored by the BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University BFA in Creative Writing!
The BFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University is very proud to announce the reading period for our next edition of WORD HOTEL, our annual literary journal. We invite submissions in all genres and a multitude of styles, welcome experimental work, and are particularly hungry to hear from emerging writers (i.e., those who have not yet published a first book).
In fact: This year we are featuring a HIGH SCHOOL WRITING contest! In addition to being published prominently in Word Hotel, the top high school winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship to Spalding University; the runner-up, a $500 scholarship!
Please submit Word or RTF docs to
We will consider up to three poems (any length), short fiction/CNF up to 2,500 words, and hybrid texts as well.
Reading period for the 2013 issue ends DECEMBER 15TH. Acceptances and notifications of high school winners will be emailed by end of January. The issue is to be published April 2014.
For further information, please contact Merle Bachman, BFA Director, at
Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Flash Fiction. We publish stories from 500 to 1,000 words in length.
They’re very short, but they are still stories. That means the best ones have strong, interesting characters, plots, and (to some extent, at least) settings.

Submission guidelines at




  1. Some good hints here. Thanks, Nancy.

  2. Glad you could use them. Thanks, Rosi, and happy writing.