Editing Tips For Last Minute Contest Entries

Photo by deboer

Photo by deboer

First, the answer to our Super Sleuth Challenge yesterday: AIRBAGS. Can you believe that they go for $1,000-2,000 a pop on the black market and it only takes two minutes to get it from your car. You wouldn’t even know it is gone unless a certified technician checks it out.

It pays to be careful with your mechanic shop as well. For more on this story click here.


Editing Tips For Last Minute Contest Entries:

When should I italicize words?

When I first started writing, I struggled to understand when to italicize words. Finally, Susan May Warren gave me this rule of thumb that helps me remember:

*Italicize only when it is something the Point of View Character is screaming in their head. It isn’t a general thought, but more of a panic, fear, angry, or grief type of thought. Any thought that screams. It should NOT be a lot of words per page. Much of internal dialogue is not italicized if it is in third person.

What do you mean when you say show instead of tell?

Telling is when we describe how a character is feeling or what is happening in the scene instead of showing it happen.


*He looked at the overstuffed bear and just knew that he had to take it home. (Telling)

*The bear slumped in the corner alone. It’s soft furry body propped close to the display candles and ornaments.  Thomas picked it up and snuggled it close inhaling the scent of apples and cinnamon like the pie that warmed his tummy at grandma’s last summer. He just had to take him home.

Some telling words to look for: looked, appeared, felt, told, saw, etc.

For more tips on Show vs. Tell, check out Author Beth Vogt’s amazing teaching chat notes here. (It may ask you to join, but it is absolutely free and there is no spam mailing involved. It is a writing community all about the writing craft with free chats on Monday night.)

What about Backstory?

The right place to start the story is in the middle of the action. Sure, you want to anchor your reader in the setting, but that can be done with very little lead in. Backstory can kill your reader’s interest right from the very beginning. As my friend Susan May Warren says, “Think breadcrumbs.”

Example of starting in the action and still anchoring the reader:

A horrible day to kill. Sully belly crawled across the rain scored earth, waiting for his mark to arrive at the rendezvous point. His camoflauge uniform stuck to his skin like cloth to a saracofogus, making movement more difficult. He flattened himself to the earth as a beam of light scanned the area around him. The smell of earth and grass assaulted his nose as he focused on breathing in and out.

Easy. Easy. Just because everything felt off, didn’t mean it would turn out like the last time. It couldn’t, or he’d be dead by morning.

*Notice the anchoring and the bread crumbs of backstory? That is how to keep your reader engaged and yet aware that there is an undercurrent from the past that matters now.

Do have any last minute editing tips for contest entries?

Remember the Genesis Contest Deadline is Tomorrow!



About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

3 thoughts on “Editing Tips For Last Minute Contest Entries

  1. dtopliff says:

    Good and helpful post. I finally have my Genesis entry ready, but it is the required photo specifics that are giving me fits. Glad I didn’t leave until the last day.

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Congrats, Delores and being ready to send it. I didn’t know there was a photo part this year. I suppose I will be pulling my hair out in a bit, LOL!

      • dtopliff says:

        Not only that, it has to be a very high-density photo. W/o a close friend’s diligent help, that could have kept me from entering. Submitted now, and so grateful!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s