Nancy's Books

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Does the character change/grow/learn something by the end of the last chapter? The main conflict gets resolved by the end of the book. In some books, characters may change the way s/he looks at the world. In others, a character may realize that s/he was doing the right thing all along. That realization is the result of the growth of character. Either way, the character should experience growth.

Sentence structure is as important as word choice. In revision, I reread the entire manuscript looking at nothing but sentence structure. My goal is to vary the structure to help create rhythmic prose. Long, short, and mid-size sentences keep the writing lively. Too many subject-verb sentences craft bland writing, and readers notice with a yawn. Another option is to vary sentence openings: Susie peeped out the window. As the rain pinged the glass, Susie peeked out the window.  

Check the dialog. I read each piece of dialog and question whether is sound appropriate for the character’s age and situation. As I read it aloud, I listen to the words and tone. My goal is to capture the voice of each character. By reading aloud, my brain hears mistakes that my eyes overlook if reading silently. It’s also easier to catch the flow and rhythm of the words. Try it. 

Grammar, punctuations, and manuscript format are my final checks. Professional looking manuscripts are more likely to get read than those with simple, overlooked mistakes.

Revision is our chance to make manuscripts shine. I wish you sparkle and glimmer in your literary output.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
DIG Magazine is a world history publication that targets children aged 9 to 14. They’re accepting queries for feature articles, supplemental nonfiction, and fiction. Writers can pitch anything from plays to biographies. 

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.
Leave a message or check out my blog at

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Chapter Book Revision, cont’d

Set the tone of the book. Is it serious or humorous? Sad or happy? The tone is the author’s attitude, or the narrator’s. The mood of the story is the emotion the reader feels. Both are important and need to be set early in the first chapter. Setting the tone early provides glimpses into what the reader can expect in the rest of the story. In my chapter book, THE RIDDLERS, mystery and a touch of humor set the tone.

Does the writing zing? Word choice is crucial to voice, and voice is crucial to writing that sparks imagination. Voice is the music of language that spurs on the story and captures the reader’s interest. Zing can be small tingles or mighty zaps. A variety of unexpected descriptions and snappy dialog create surprises for the reader. When reading a sentence, if the reader can predict the finish (hungry as a bear/white as snow) the writing is clichéd with no zap, not even a tingle.

Have I chosen the best word, not merely a good word? Which of the following offers more description: sat/plopped down. Both work, but “plopped down” provides more detail and gives the reader more insight. Choosing the best word doesn’t mean staying in constant contact with a thesaurus; instead, it means using the best word to evoke emotion. Readers want to step into the world writers create and experience the feelings/needs/desires of the characters. One technique to induce that sentiment/reaction is to use strong verbs and show the action. Betty was scared tells how the character felt. Betty’s hand trembled showed her emotion in action. The second example also provides a mental visual. The first does not. Visual images help a reader connect to the action and experience the character’s feelings.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
FUN FOR KIDZ. We are looking for lively writing that involves an activity that is both wholesome and unusual. The Ideal length of a FUN FOR KIDZ nonfiction piece is up to 300-325 words for a one-page magazine article or up to 600-650 words for a two-page magazine article. Articles that are accompanied by strong high-resolution photos are far more likely to be accepted than those requiring illustration.
Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

Leave a message or check out my blog at