Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Let It Go!


Let it Go!
Working With Editors Series: Part Five
Net's Notations Tuesdays

We've come to the final post in our Working with Editors series. Your editor has a lot of work ahead of her after you've okayed your galleys and pressed send. But first, you've got to let it go.

Our manuscripts are our babies. We nurture them, pray over them, birth them. We become defensive if someone disses them. We cling to them, refusing to press send (see last week’s post). We cherish them—designating a shelf on our bookcase just for our own titles. Right?

So, it’s no wonder we have a hard time letting go.

From the beginning, we were like God as we created our characters, the plot, the action, tension, hardships. We controlled every aspect. (Generally speaking. Sometimes editors assign specific stories.) Now, the edits are accomplished. The title’s established. You’ve probably even seen the cover art. So, what’s next? You press send and poof. You let go. Right?

Or not.

It’s not easy. But as we let go, we let God move. He wants to put your words, those heart-felt, hard-wrought, emotion-packed, life-impacting words into the hands of just the right people at the right times.

By letting go we are trusting our editors, the path God has us on (i.e. trusting God), and relaxing into God’s promises.

So, pray over your baby, but then L E T  G O. Really, it’ll be okay. Your story has places to go you’ve never been. And it won’t let you down. Neither will God.

Plus, in letting go, you get to work on the next project that’s burning to be told.

Let go and leave the rest to your editor and to God.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Meta-Conflicts by Randy Ingermanson: Part Three

This Manuscript Monday Randy Ingermanson's back to conclude his series on meta-conflict in fiction writing. It's a great way to throw in a twist or show the villain's true colors. Hasn't this been a great series? Enjoy!

The Games People Don't Play: Part Three*
by Randy Ingermanson

You can introduce meta-conflict like this in any category. (Again, Randy's referring to the characters in a scene playing by different rules. See the past two Manuscript Mondays' posts for more.) In Gone With The Wind, Scarlett meets Rhett Butler in the library and learns that he's been listening to her throw herself unsuccessfully at Ashley Wilkes.

Scarlett is upset and tries to insult Rhett by calling him an eavesdropper.

Rhett takes this as a compliment and happily informs her that he's an experienced eavesdropper.

Scarlett gets more angry and tells Rhett he's no gentleman.

Rhett is unperturbed and agrees with her. He tells her she's no lady, and that's what he likes about her.

Now Scarlett is furious. She tells Rhett that he isn't fit to wipe Ashley's boots.

Rhett thinks this hysterically funny, since Scarlett has just told Ashley she would hate him all her life.

Scarlett and Rhett are playing different games. Scarlett is playing the insult game, because she
believes that words have the power to hurt. Rhett is playing the game of court jester. He accepts every insult with a grin. Scarlett can't win, because Rhett isn't playing her game. Rhett wins simply by refusing to play.

This works even in the most direct of all conflicts – hand-to-hand combat. Every street fighter knows that the easiest fight to win is the one that's over before your opponent has even begun.

In Lee Child's novel, Echo Burning, our hero Jack Reacher is lured into a bar by a couple of toughs who are being paid to beat him up. They've even called an ambulance in advance to make sure he won't die if they get too rough.

They make the mistake of telling Reacher what they plan to do—how they beat up another guy once before, how they cut him up so bad, he almost bled out. They're trying to scare him, to weaken his resistance. This is an intimidation game, part of the larger game of provoking a street fight. It would work on most people.

Reacher knows this game and he's not worried. It's been a long time since he lost a fight in a two-on-one battle. So he lets them know he thinks they're full of beans. Matter of fact, he tells them that he'll be happy to fight them right now if they'll step outside with him. He heads toward the exit and they follow.

Reacher now has them playing the game he wants them to play, the game of “We'll start an unfair fight out in the parking lot 30 seconds from now.”

But that isn't Reacher's game. His game starts 25 seconds before theirs, the instant he reaches the rack of pool cues. He grabs one, spins around and lays into Billy first, then into Josh, while they're still thinking about what they'll be doing half a minute in the future.

They're unconscious before their game is even due to begin.

Why? Because Reacher refused to play their game. Because he chose to break up the timing of their game.

In most scenes of your novel, your characters are all going to be playing the same game. It might be tennis. It might be office politics. It might be verbal jousting. It might be a fist fight.

It's not WRONG to let your people all play by the same rules. That's the way most of life is played. You can have a nice conflict where everybody plays fair.

It's just a whole lot more interesting when one of the characters decides to play a different game -- a game the other characters aren't expecting, aren't prepared for, and can't win.

If you want to try taking one of your scenes up a notch, see if you can find a way to get one of your players to change the game. He can either change the rules, change the turf, change the timing, change the definition of winning.

Whatever this rogue character does to change the rules, it needs to massively tilt the game to his advantage.

Try it and see what happens.

What have you got to lose?

~~~~~

*Article first appeared in Randy Ingermanson's Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, April 2011. See his website for more information.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 25,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit
http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It’s Okay if What You Write Stinks by Kaye Dacus

I struggle writing first drafts. (Dawn here) You too? I want to make it perfect—but in order to make any headway, I have to turn off the editor in me for awhile. Our guest author, Kaye Dacus, is not only encouraging us, she’s giving us permission to do just that.  To read more from Kaye, don’t forget to join us here on Manuscript Mondays in June for her four-part series on writing popular fiction.


It’s Okay if What You Write Stinks
by Kaye Dacus

Do you think Yo-Yo Ma sounded like he does today the first time he picked up the cello?

How many times do you think Evan Lysacek had to fall on that cold, hard ice before he could land a perfect quad and become an Olympic gold medalist?

How many drafts of novels do you think an author needs to write before her words are ready to be published?

What? You mean that even published authors write first drafts that stink? Even published authors have to agonize over word choice and plot arcs? They don’t get it right the first time?

Yep, that’s right. Even multi-published, bestselling authors aren’t going to get it “perfect” in the first draft. So why are we killing ourselves with the notion that our writing must be “perfect” in that first draft?

Remember the parable of the talents—the master went away but gave his servants a certain sum of money (“talents”). Two of them went out and put what he’d entrusted them to good use and multiplied the talents through hard work, risk taking, and possibly even some setbacks along the way. The third was afraid he might fail if he tried to do something with his talents, so he kept them hidden, to himself. And what did the master say to the two who put theirs to good use? “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

But what did he say to the one who gave in to fear of failure? “You wicked, lazy servant... Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

If you let the fear of failure—the fear that your writing stinks—rule you and keep you from writing the stories you’ve been given, you’re no better than that “wicked, lazy servant.”

Sure, it’s easy to stand in awe of published authors—those who’ve gone out there and taken the risk of putting their writing in front of others and faced rejection and won. But, you’re thinking, they’re great writers, they’re great storytellers. I’ll never be like that.

No talent comes out of the gate fully formed without the need for lots of practice, lots of studying, and lots of defeating self-doubt and fear that what we’re doing (writing, music, sports, art, cooking, etc.) isn’t good enough.

So allow yourself to write stinky prose. Allow yourself to write info dumps. Allow yourself to use clich├ęs and ignore punctuation and write scenes of dialogue with only he-said/she-said attributions. Allow yourself to draw _______________ blank lines in places where you need to research something or you can’t think of the right word. Write longhand and scribble things out and ignore the margins.

It can all be fixed later.





Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters!
Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

To find out more about Kaye and her books, please visit


Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Truth

Thursdays – Dawn’s Devotions for Writers
“Then you will know the truth, and
the truth will set you free." (John 8:32 NIV)


True confession. Books aren’t my only love. I’m a huge fan of movies—and I like a multitude of genres. Remember the famous line from A Few Good Men? “You can’t handle the truth!”

The truth.

In searching for the truth, sometimes people search in the all the wrong places. Sometimes, they’re so hungry for answers, they’ll believe anything as “truth” without questioning it.

That’s what happened last weekend, when people around the world waited for the end of the world—whether that meant the rapture or the ultimate destruction of the planet. People accepted the prediction of one man as truth.

These types of predictions have occurred numerous times over the years. Sherrie Shepherd, one of the co-hosts for The View and a Christian, spoke about her past experience. Before becoming a Christian, she was a Jehovah’s Witness. At one point, accepting one of the predictions as truth, she stopped paying her bills and charged a considerable amount of stuff—believing she’d never have to pay it back. Of course in the end, her actions ruined her financially.

The one good thing that came out of this last prediction is that people started talking about God and the end times. It was relayed through newscasts and discussed on numerous talk shows. People blogged about it—myself included.

I’ve never seen the following verse written or verbally quoted more times than I did last week. "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:6 NIV).

My cousin’s daughter, who happened to see the link to my blog post on Facebook, started asking me questions about the end-of-the-world prediction. Married with three small children, she’s begun attending church regularly and is also teaching Sunday School, but feels she still has much to learn. She wondered what I believed. The blog post was helpful in opening up a discussion with her.

Isn’t that one of the reasons we write? To help open people’s minds and hearts to God’s love, grace, and forgiveness? To stimulate their hunger for the truth?

We have a huge responsibility as writers to not share our faith in a way that frightens people, but in a way that draws them into wanting to know God more—to love him more.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grammar Quiz Wednesday


Welcome to grammar day on Seriously Write. Ready to test your skills? The following sentences may contain grammar, punctuation, spelling, or other writing misdemeanors. Your job is to find the infraction and set it right. Try not to look at the answers below.

Have fun!

Sentences to correct:

1)      Rain had nurished the pink geranuims and other plants growing in the yard. Reaching into the half basket hung in the entry-way to our front door where it was sheltered from the rain, I tested for dryness.

2)     My fingers felt something solid and round. I wondered how a rock had found it’s way there. I lifted the object out of the basket to see not a rock; but a bird’s egg.

3)     After unhooking the basket from the nail on the wall: I peared inside and discovered a nest built   into the dirt and vegetation. I replaced the egg and several days later an additional egg lay cradled next to it.

4)     Our yard has a number of tall trees; birch, cherry, and an asortment of evergreens. Large, beautiful floral baskets hang from the house. But, this bird decide to make a home in the smallest and simplest space available.

5)     An unusual place but, sheltered from the eliments, as well as creatures who might harm the “family.” It met the need. God works that way. He doesn’t always provide in the way we think he would, should, or could. But, he always provides…

6)     ‘Consider the ravens: They do not sew or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are then birds! (Luke 12:24 NIv)”




Corrected sentences:

1)      Rain had nourished the pink geraniums and other plants growing in the yard. Reaching into the half basket hung in the entryway to our front door where it was sheltered from the elements, I tested for dryness.

2)     My fingers felt something solid and round. I wondered how a rock had found its way there. I lifted the object out of the basket to see not a rock, but a bird’s egg.

3)     After unhooking the basket from the nail on the wall, I peered inside and discovered a nest built into the dirt and vegetation. I replaced the egg, and several days later an additional egg lay cradled next to it.


Note: Two extra spaces were included between the words “built” and “into” in the first set of sentences.

Note: A comma should be included after the word “egg” in the second sentence because it includes independent clauses. An independent clause is a part of a sentence that can stand on its own as a complete sentence. If you put two together, and join them with a conjunction (and, but, or, etc.), separate them with a comma.

4)     Our yard has a number of tall trees: birch, cherry, and an assortment of evergreens. Large, beautiful floral baskets hang from the house. But, this bird decided to make a home in the smallest and simplest space available.

5)     An unusual place, but sheltered from the elements, as well as creatures who might harm the “family.” It met the need. God works that way. He doesn’t always provide in the way we think he would, should, or could. But, he always provides….

Note: In the first sentence, the comma comes before the word “but,” not after.

Note: If an ellipsis is going to be used at the end of the last sentence, four dots are used, indicating the sentence is grammatically complete. A period would work just as well.

6)     Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” (Luke 12:24 NIV).

Note: There should be a double quotation mark at the beginning of the quote instead of a single.

Note: When a quotation comes at the end of a sentence, and it is a question or exclamation, that punctuation stays inside the quotation marks. Add a period after the closing parentheses.


How well did you do?

Like anyone else, I’m not perfect. I use The Chicago Manual of Style, The Christian Writers Manual of Style, and Webster’s Dictionary as my sources.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just Send It!


 Just Send It!
Working With Editors Series: Part Four
 Net's Notations Tuesdays

Oh, we writers could spend forever making little changes to our manuscripts, couldn’t we? Raise your hand if you have a hard time pressing send. Now, a little caution is good. Don’t be too quick to shoot off so much as an email to anyone without the once-over. But don’t use caution as an excuse to hold on to a manuscript you know needs to be sent.

So, you’ve gotten through your edits—after all, you’re a pro. But you’re still fretting over some issues here or there. Maybe your editor gave you a general instruction to see if you could include more conflict in a certain section, or maybe add more tension. You’ve got a little leeway, a little wiggle room. You’ve got some rewriting to do. So, how long should you labor over those rewrites?

This very situation is why we discussed taking a breather before diving in earlier this month. Same concept applies here. Rewrite. Then, take a break. Later, approach that section with a fresh perspective. Then, rework as necessary.

The key here is there comes a time when you have to just send it! You’ve done all you can do, made the requested changes (and then some, if you’re anything like me), and you have to send it off.

If you sit there thinking it has to be perfect first, you’ll never send it because it never will be.

If you wait until you know everything there is to know about writing, until you have the next writing craft lesson under your belt, you’ll never send it. We’re always growing as writers (hopefully).

If you procrastinate out of fear, dig deep. What are you afraid of? Succeeding? Failing? Both? Those sound like issues for prayer. So, pray. Then, just send it!

Some rules in submitting:

Don’t exasperate your editor.
Don’t procrastinate.
Don’t miss your deadline.

And if you’ve done all you can do, followed your editor’s suggestions, and the deadline is fast approaching: just send it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meta-Conflicts by Randy Ingermanson: Part Two

Happy Manuscript Monday, dear readers. Annette here to welcome Randy Ingermanson back as he continues his series on meta-conflicts in fiction writing. I don't know about you, but this topic has really changed the way I see conflict, both when I'm watching movies and when I'm writing/reading (not to mention in life). Thanks, Randy! Let's dive into Part Two. (If you missed it, please see Part One last week for the beginning of this article.)

The Games People Don't Play: Part Two*
by Randy Ingermanson

You might think meta-conflict (the idea that the two characters in a scene are playing by a different set of rules) can never happen in real life. But in fact, it happens all the time. Here's an example that's a little less extreme:

Bossbert walks into Wally's cubicle. "Wally, have you got the report done for the Gooberheimer project?"

Wally blows his nose loudly and tosses the Kleenex at Bossbert. "Wow, I've got the worst cold you ever heard of."

Bossbert leaps back from the germy tissue. "I asked you a yes or no question. That means I need a yes or no answer. Are you planning to give me one or not?"

Wally coughs into his hand, then wipes it on his pants. "I should probably go home, if I didn't have so much work to do."

Bossbert's hands are curling into fists. "Would you like me to fire you?"

Wally puts his hand to his forehead. "I think I've got a fever. Maybe it's the flu."


What's going on here? Why is Bossbert getting madder and madder?

What's going on is that Bossbert is playing one game and Wally is playing another. Bossbert needs
information, so he's asking simple yes-or-no questions.

Wally has no intention of giving an answer because he hasn't done his work. Instead of playing Bossbert's game (which he would lose), he plays a different game -- "feel sorry for me because I'm sick."

Only an unfeeling brute would fire a worker who has the flu. Bossbert can't win at Wally's game, and Wally refuses to play Bossbert's game. So Bossbert loses.


Next week, we'll tie up our series on meta-conflict. 

~~~~~


*Article first appeared in Randy Ingermanson's Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, April 2011. See his website for more information.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 25,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit
http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Trusting the Author of All Things by Jennifer Erin Valent


Welcome to Fortifying Friday, the day here at Seriously Write when guest authors share encouraging words and pieces of their personal journeys to publication. Dawn here. I’m excited to have Jennifer Erin Valent with us today. Her article, “Trusting the Author of All Things,” spoke to my heart. I have a feeling it will touch many of you, as well. Thanks, Jennifer.



Trusting the Author of All Things
by Jennifer Erin Valent

There are a lot of books out there about how to write and get published. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably got a stack of them on your desk. And while they can provide a ton of useful information on anything from composing query letters to executing strong manuscript formatting, there’s one thing you’ll never find on the shelf at Barnes and Noble… how to find and follow your specific path as a writer.

Each of us was created with individual personalities, ways of communicating, and abilities; and, all of that was put together by a Creator who knows exactly why He made us the way He did, why He placed us here, and what we’re meant to do while we inhabit this planet.

It’s easy, when we love writing as we do, to search for our niche rather than to pray for it. We become so actively involved in this business of writing that it’s difficult to keep our focus on why we’re pursuing it in the first place.

But just like anything, when we don’t focus on the important stuff, the little stuff gets blown all out of proportion and we begin to rely on ourselves for things we aren’t capable of. And that leads to burn-out.

And trust me, in the six or so years it took me to get my foot in the door of publishing, I had plenty of experience with being burnt out! There is nothing easy about becoming a writer. In fact, there’s nothing easy about staying a writer. There are endless disappointments, frustrations, rejections and doors slammed in the face. It’s part of the package.

But what kept me ticking (and still does!) was refocusing on why I was writing in the first place. I was led there, plain and simple. I didn’t grow up wanting to write. The desire came to me out of the blue in my twenties and pestered me until I had given up full-time work—and my own personal goals—to throw myself into an entirely new field, because I knew it was what the Lord was leading me to do.

What I can tell you from experience as an aspiring author is that each move I’ve made because I felt led by the Holy Spirit has developed into some form of progress in my career or personal growth. But the things I’ve pursued because I felt I should, or because someone else said I should, did nothing but waste time and energy and end in frustration.

So my encouragement to all of you who are trying to break through that publishing barrier is to take this journey and place it at the Lord’s feet. Ask Him to provide you with His vision each step of the way. Spend time in prayer, and when you don’t know for certain how to act, don’t. Just wait. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him” (Lamentations , NAS).

In a world where it seems your life is at the whim of faceless editors, harsh critics, and economic impact, remember that it’s not. Your life is in the hands of the One who breathed it into existence. What better place to go for guidance than the One who calls, directs, equips, and never breaks His promises?



Jennifer Erin Valent is the winner of the 2007 Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest and a 2010 Christy Award. A lifelong resident of the South, her surroundings help to color the scenes and characters she writes. She has spent the past 17 years working as a nanny and has dabbled in freelance, writing articles for various Christian women's magazines. She lives in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

To find out more about Jennifer
and her books, please visit




Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just Believe

Thursdays – Dawn’s Devotions for Writers

“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler,
‘Don't be afraid; just believe.’” (Mark 5:26 NIV)

Today’s Scripture comes from the story told about the synagogue ruler, Jairus, who pleaded with Jesus to help his daughter who was dying. Jairus wanted Jesus to return with him to his home, lay hands on the little girl, and provide healing.

Jesus went with him, but on the journey, a woman who also desired healing moved through the crowd of people surrounding Jesus and touched the hem of his garment. She was immediately healed of her bleeding.

Our Lord stopped and searched the crowd for the woman, wanting to speak with her. The healed woman fell at his feet, trembling with fear. “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering’” (Mark 5:34).

Taking time for the woman delayed Jesus in reaching the child. A message arrived that the little girl had died. The messengers were convinced it was too late. There was no reason for Jesus to go to Jairus’ home.

“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don't be afraid; just believe’” (Mark 5:26 NIV). When Jesus arrived at the home, he took the child’s hand and told her to wake up. Immediately the girl stood up and walked around. The people were stunned.

If you read last week’s devotion, you might remember that I wrote about being patient with people who don’t “get” our need to write—or who don’t understand what it takes to be successful as a writer. It was an encouragement to be patient with those who can’t—or won’t support our dreams. But what about believing in ourselves?

Remember that your passion—your desire to write— comes from God. He placed in your heart a calling to write for him. That doesn’t mean success is going to happen overnight—or even come close to being easy.

There may be days when you feel discouraged by rejection letters. There may be times when you feel empty—when the words just aren’t there. There may be moments, hours, or even weeks when you feel that you just can’t do it. It’s too difficult.

Believe in your dream—and in a Savior who understands not only what you experience, but who believes in you.

A metal cutout hanging on my wall only says, “Believe.” It’s a constant reminder. We need to believe in our dreams … and in ourselves. God is on our side. He didn’t give us our dreams to not see them come true.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:26 NIV).


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Manuscript Formatting


Hey everyone, it's grammar day here on Seriously Write. Annette here. I work as an acquisitions editor, so today, I thought we could focus on a topic which comes up now and then with submissions: manuscript formatting.

I remember years ago when I had no idea what to do with manuscript formatting. I wanted someone to show me examples. I knew formatting was key to being taken seriously and I was ready to pitch, but I didn't know exactly what editors (and agents) were looking for.

First, let me begin by saying EVERY HOUSE/AGENCY IS DIFFERENT. If you're interested in pitching to a specific house/agency, please check their guidelines and follow them completely. Here on Seriously Write this week, my purpose is to give you general formatting guidelines so your work appears as professional as possible (in case you can't access the house's guidelines, or they don’t address every question you may have).

Let’s begin:

Margins: You should use 1” margins on all sides.

Spacing: double-spaced throughout the manuscript itself (other materials, single-spaced—i.e. in a proposal, the summary would be single-spaced, etc.).

Font: Use Times New Roman or Courier New in 12-pt font.

First page: centered halfway down the page: manuscript title, author name beneath (after double space). Then, lower, right-hand corner: Author Name and contact info (so the editor/agent can request the full manuscript!) *smile*

Following pages: Beginning of Chapter One centered halfway down the page. First paragraph not indented. (Note: The first line in printed books is normally not indented. See below for more info on indenting.)

Each new chapter: begin halfway down the page with the chapter title: Chapter Two, etc.

Widows and Orphans: To help with spacing, select all, then click into formatting and line spacing and uncheck the box marked “widows/orphans.”

Indentations: No tabs! Instead, select the entire manuscript and go to formatting. Change “paragraph” formatting to “first line.” This will automatically indent new paragraphs for you as you hit “return/enter.” No need for tabs in fiction writing. Of course, doing this will indent every paragraph, including chapter titles, scene change symbols, and first lines. If no direction is given on this in the house’s guidelines, don’t fret. Just select all and “first line” indent all. The editor will take care of the rest later. Automatically indenting paragraphs is preferable to tabbing. We hate tabs. *grin*

Immediately at the end of your chapters, hit control/enter for a hard page break. Don’t space down to get to the next page, (which would mess up the spacing later when changes are made to the ms).

Finally, there is no need for bolding or underlining in a fiction manuscript. Use italics to set off specific words. 

These are just some basics, but they make a big difference in being taken seriously and helping the editor or agent evaluate your work.

Happy writing and submitting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You're a Professional!


 

 You're a Professional!
Working with Editor Series: Part Three
Net's Notations Tuesdays

Last Tuesday, we discussed the need to take some time when you get edits back, time permitting, and focus on other projects or activities. Go weed your garden, or take the grandkids for a walk, or have lunch out with a friend. (especially that last one *wink*) This week, a practical directive on tackling your edits.

After taking that much-needed breather, and the time comes to sit down and tackle the edits (or face the contest scores, or your crit partners’ comments), remember—you’re a professional. You’re a writer. An author. This is your job. Face those edits as objectively as you can. Step back and ask yourself: would these changes make the story better? Don’t let pride stand in the way of a good story. Then, dive in. Don’t fret about all the red on the screen or pencil marks on the paper (my crit group uses pencils to mark potential changes on the printed copies we bring to our meetings). Consider each change/comment’s merit, and proceed accordingly.

Did you catch that? Potential changes. Reminds me. Generally, editors are flexible. Some changes will be no-brainers, like adding an apostrophe or changing out a homonym. Other changes may affect voice or tone or areas you’d rather not change—areas that may require a discussion with your editor. Remember, that is always an option. Like I mentioned last month, you don’t want to exasperate your editor, but a few discussions about this project you’re editing together will not bother him/her. My advice: save them up until you’re ready with a list of them. Sending multiple emails a day will probably not endear him/her to you. *grin*

As I said, remember you’re a pro. You’ve got a professional contract, and these edits are part of your job. So, tackle them as you would any other job—as a professional. If discouragement attempts to rattle your calm, stop. Pray. Breathe. Tackle one tracked change at a time and pretty soon you’ll get to the last page and read those ever-endearing, two favorite words spelling out tremendous accomplishment: The End.

Remember, too, the editor (or contest judge or crit partner) is just doing his/her job as well. They’re an objective voice attempting to help you make a strong project. Trust them. Respect them, (and know they respect you). It’s a symbiotic relationship.

So, open the file. Click on the first tracked change and BEGIN! You’ve got a job to do! 

Want to talk about it? Share with us: What are your thoughts when you get feedback on your manuscript (whether from editors/critique partners or contest judges)? Do you need a breather before diving in? What methods work best for you as you tackle the potential changes?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Meta-Conflicts by Randy Ingermanson: Part One

This Manuscript Monday, let's go beyond the basics of fiction writing to something a little meatier with renown writing guru Randy Ingermanson. You've heard of including conflict in your story, but what about meta-conflicts? Let's dig a little deeper today as Randy discusses the Games People Don't Play, part one.

The Games People Don't Play: Part One*
by Randy Ingermanson

Fiction is about characters in conflict. In this column, I've talked about many different kinds of conflict over the years, but there's one kind that I don't recall ever discussing.

It's the conflict that comes when one character changes the rules of the game. Changes them so radically that it's suddenly a completely different game.

To understand this kind of conflict, let's look at an extreme example. Imagine that you challenge your buddy to a match at the tennis courts. Whoever loses has to buy the pizza for dinner.

You show up at the courts with your tennis racket and all your other gear.

Your buddy shows up with a chessboard, sets it up on the sidelines, and sits down behind the white pieces. He hasn't got a racket. He's not dressed for tennis. He isn't even on the court.

You wait for him to get his act together, but he's paying no attention to you, so finally you serve an ace to an empty court.

Your buddy moves his king's pawn forward.

You serve another ace.

Your buddy moves his queen out to the fifth rank.

You ace him again.

He moves his king-side bishop out.

You miss on your next serve, but you aren't worried, because he still isn't on the court. One more serve, and you'll have him nailed for this game.

He moves his queen down to the seventh rank, takes your king's bishop pawn, shouts, "Checkmate!" and leaps out of his chair, doing a victory dance.

What just happened there? You were winning, weren't you? But he thinks he's winning, because you've been playing different games.

This is an extremely weird kind of conflict. A meta-conflict. A conflict over what the nature of the conflict is supposed to be.

~~~~~~~~
*Article first appeared in Randy Ingermanson's Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, April 2011. See his website for more information.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 25,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit
http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A First Time Experience by Connie Stevens

Here at Seriously Write, our Fortifying Fridays focus on giving authors opportunities to talk about their journeys to publication and offer encouraging words to other writers. Last December, when Connie Stevens wrote about an experience she had during the holidays, both Annette and I (Dawn) were touched. I’m so glad that Connie is here today to share it with you.



A First Time Experience
by Connie Stevens

One week before Christmas, I received a case of author copies of my debut novel, Leave Me Never, from Heartsong Presents. Giddy with excitement, I gave a few copies to friends and family. I remember, when attending a writer’s conference, someone said to always carry a few of your books with you because you never know when God will give you an opportunity to network with someone who can help you promote your book, or use the book to introduce someone to Christian fiction. So I stuck a book in my purse as I was heading out to run errands.

The week before Christmas every place was crowded, the lines were long, and patience seemed in short supply. My last stop was the grocery store. The girl who checked me out looked and sounded tired and discouraged, so I smiled at her. She tried to smile back but her effort appeared forced. I asked her if she was ready for Christmas. When all she did was lift her shoulders, something hit my heart and I knew this girl was going through a difficult time.

As she finished checking out my groceries, I asked her (a bit apprehensively) if she liked to read. She kind of half-shrugged and said, “When I have time.”

I sent a prayer heavenward and pulled the book out, handed it to her and said, “Merry Christmas. This is my debut novel.”

Again, the forced smile and a mumbled thank you. The bag boy tucked the last bag into my cart and turned it toward the door, waiting for me to join him. I saw the cashier out of the corner of my eye turn the book over and glance at the back. As the bag boy and I reached the door, the girl called out behind me. I turned. She had tears in her eyes as she held up the book. She tapped her finger on the back cover. “Is this what this book is about?”

I smiled (much bigger this time and not the least bit apprehensive) and said, “Yes.”

You know how sometimes you “lock eyes” with someone and unspoken communication zings back and forth? I saw hope in her eyes and this time her smile wasn’t forced when she said, “Thank you. Merry Christmas.”

The first line on the back cover of my book reads, “Does God keep His promises?”

I needed a tissue before I could drive home.

The image of this girl and the tears in her eyes has lingered in my memory. Since my book didn’t officially release until three weeks later, this cashier was among my first readers. My heart was arrested by that term—readers. As Christian authors, the reason we write goes beyond entertainment. Our writing is a ministry. We never know who will be impacted by a character or a plot that draws that reader in and points their heart in the direction of Jesus. Praying for my readers has become a new passion.



Connie Stevens lives in north Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years, John. One cantankerous kitty—misnamed Sweet Pea—allows them to live in her home. Some of Connie’s favorite pastimes include reading, browsing antique shops, collecting teddy bears, and gardening. She also enjoys making quilts to send to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Leave Me Never is Connie’s first published book. Her second book, Revealing Fire, releases this month. Both books are published with Heartsong Presents, division of Barbour Publishing.



Visit Connie’s website and blog at http://www.conniestevenswrites.com/



Thursday, May 12, 2011

When People Don’t Understand

Thursdays – Dawn’s Devotions for Writers

“A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his
glory to overlook an offense.”  (Proverbs 19:11 NIV)


Unless you’re trying to make a make a career in the creative arts, it’s difficult to understand just how difficult it can be to break in and be successful.

My oldest daughter graduated from college with a degree in theater and has pursued an acting career for the past eight years—the same amount of time I’ve seriously focused on writing. We’re fortunate to both have husbands who support our dreams, and they’ve learned along the way that gigs don’t come easy.

After establishing her place in the Seattle theater community, two years ago my daughter’s husband was promoted and transferred to New York City. They were both thrilled. After all, one of the best places for an actor to grow and find work is in NYC. But, it meant that she had to start over in a city where there are not only more opportunities for actors, there’s also a lot more competition.

In the meantime, there are “other” relatives who keep hinting that it’s time to quit her hobby, get a real job, and start having babies. Ouch!!! It’s painful.

They don’t “get it.” They don’t understand what drives her—the need to create and express herself. But, I do …

For years, friends didn’t take my writing seriously. I think they believed it was just another “thing” I was trying out. They didn’t—and some still don’t—have a clue as to how things work in the industry. The expectation can be that you write a book in a month, send it in, and get it published a few months later. They may wonder why nothing is “happening.”

You may experience similar situations.

Perhaps your spouse isn’t supportive of you taking time to write. Maybe conferences are looked at as a waste of funds. You might even be receiving comments from friends, relatives, or fellow church members who can’t find it in themselves to believe in you.

It can be hurtful when people don’t take us—or our writing ministry—seriously.

That’s when we need to lean on God and our writer friends for support. We need to turn to people who DO understand. That’s what this blog is all about—offering writers not only education, but encouragement for those days when we feel discouraged.

When possible, we need to be patient with those who try to shoot us down and make us feel that our pursuit of publication or even just becoming a better writer is insignificant—unimportant. We need to be patient when their expectations become unrealistic.

Remember that they come from a place of not understanding. They just don’t “get it.” But there are those who do. And more importantly … God does.




(Update. My daughter just called. She was offered the role as the oldest daughter in the production of Fiddler on the Roof with a national touring company out of New York!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grammar Quiz Wednesday


Welcome to grammar day at Seriously Write. Ready to test your skills? The following sentences may contain grammar, punctuation, spelling, or other writing misdemeanors. Your job is to find the infraction and set it right. Try not to look at the answers below.

Have fun!

Sentences to correct:

1)      I’ve been repeatedly hit over the head with the same message. I’ve heard if from pastures and I’ve read it in devotionels. Quite simply we’re to ask God for what we want, believing we’ll receive it.

2)      Why don’t we ask God for more? Are we afraid the answer will be no? Are we afraid He’ll think our requests to trivail? Or that well appear selfish?

3)      You want something, but don’t get it…You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…  James 4:2 -3 (NIV) We can’t expect God to answer requests we haven’t made—or made in faith, believing they’ll be answered.

4)      We’re not only to ask, were to include details. When desiring a husband or wife, wouldn’t it be better to ask for a person with specific qualities as opposed to just asking for spouse? If your willing to take any man or women you might not like watts included in the package!

5)      That doesn’t mean hell automatically give us everything we ask for. He only wants what’s best for us. And, if are requests are purely biased on selfish reasons, we may not get the answers we’re hoping for.

6)      Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of you heart. Psalm 37:4  (NIV) God wants to be good to us. Tell Him what’s in your heart.


Corrected sentences:

1)      I’ve been repeatedly hit over the head with the same message. I’ve heard if from pastors, and I’ve read it in devotionals. Quite simply, we’re to ask God for what we want, believing we’ll receive it.

Note: There should be a comma after pastors. An independent claus is a part of sentence that could stand on its own as a complete sentence. If you put two of these together and join them with a conjunction (and, but, or, etc.), separate them with a comma.
Note: A comma is also needed after “simply.”


2)      Why don’t we ask God for more? Are we afraid the answer will be no? Are we afraid he’ll think our requests too trivial? Or that we’ll appear selfish?

Note: Remember, we’ve covered this before. The CMOS and the CWMS both state that deity pronouns should not be capitalized. And most publishers agree. There is a long list of reasons why. But, if an author feels strongly about capitalizing He, Him, etc. when referring to God, the publisher will usually accept it. If you choose to capitalize the pronouns, it’s important to be consistent throughout the manuscript.


3)      You want something, but don’t get it.…You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:2-3 NIV). We can’t expect God to answer requests we haven’t made—or made in faith, believing they’ll be answered.

Note: A period is added before an ellipsis to indicate the omission of the end of a sentence and /or added material immediately following the period.


4)      We’re not only to ask, we’re to include details. When desiring a husband or wife, wouldn’t it be better to ask for a person with specific qualities as opposed to just asking for spouse? If you’re willing to take any man or woman, you might not like what’s included in the package!


5)      That doesn’t mean he’ll automatically give us everything we ask for. He only wants what’s best for us. And, if our requests are purely based on selfish reasons, we may not get the answers we’re hoping for.


6)      Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV). God wants to be good to us. Tell him what’s in your heart.

Note: It’s important to write the quote exactly as it is in the Bible, and in this case, the deity pronoun “he” is not capitalized. On the other hand, it’s preferred that the word LORD, which is completely capitalized in the NIV is not written that way when quoted.


How well did you do?

Like anyone else, I’m not perfect. I use The Chicago Manual of Style, The Christian Writers Manual of Style, and Webster’s Dictionary as my sources.