Nancy's Books

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Writing to Snag a Contract

What do editors mean when they say they don’t know what kind of manuscript they want until they see it? I was asked this question earlier this week. I’m no editor but here is what I THINK they mean in regard to middle grade fiction:

Build tension throughout the story. A compelling story must have conflict, but how is that accomplished?

Broadside the character with a problem early in the story, in the first few pages. Treat your character badly. Just say NO to whatever the character wants and needs.

After you treat your character badly, treat him/her worse. Don’t lighten up. Add more problems, both external and internal. New twists, surprises, and problems make life and decision making more difficult for the character.

End the chapters with suspense or some surprising element, a cliffhanger.

Divulge more to the reader than the character. The reader may know that the character shouldn’t open the door, but the character should not. If the reader knows, that just adds to the suspense and tension. Also, allow the character to have a few secrets that s/he reveals throughout the unfolding of the story.

Next week, I’ll discuss more ways to add tension to the story.

Call for submissions for Young Writers

Blue Marble Review is published four times a year and accepts submissions of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and art on a rolling basis. We are looking for new work that hasn’t been published anywhere else either online or in print. We want to be a journal appropriate for younger middle school readers and writers as well as high school students so please keep that in mind when submitting your writing.

Submission guidelines at

Call for submissions for Adult Writers

THE NOTEBOOK  is published biannually by the Grassroots Women Project. We seek work by female or male writers, photographers & digital visual artists with rural or small town roots. We are interested in progressive thinking—past, present or visionary—that explores a spectrum of authentic experiences for women and girls in rural areas and small towns in any of the world’s cultures. Issues of THE NOTEBOOK comprise regular columns and other single-issue features, plus themed sections. We are a peer-review journal; acceptances are selective. We encourage international submissions written in English. We are a print publication.

ThemeFor the  Summer 2016 issue, the theme is Make, Break, Repair, Replace.  All genres of writing or digital imagery will be considered as long as some aspect of the theme is related to the experience of rural or small town women or girls, either directly or indirectly. You may define, interpret or conceptualize any or all parts of the theme  in any way you see fit.

How to submit your work: Submit by email only to
Submission guidelines at

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