Contest Entry Checklist For Writers

check-list-1150080-640x745

Illustration by Fanginhoon

Writing contests are part of every writer’s journey. Contests can be nerve wracking as you launch your baby out there in the world for everyone to judge. Yet, there is much to be said for outside feedback.

Naturally when entering a writing contest you want to put your best foot forward. Your voice must come through and grab the judges to final or win.

First and foremost, recognize that you enter a contest for the feedback, not just the win. Focusing all of the energy toward winning can lead to discouragement, especially early in your journey.

Make a list of all of the reasons you are entering before submitting to keep expectations realistic and to avoid discouragement. Once you’ve done this, then you are ready for a Contest Entry Checklist For Writers to brush up your manuscript.

I’ve added links to blog posts that show you how to do the required step. This will help if you need extra help.

Contest Entry Checklist For Writers:

*Point of View. Entries should maintain one Point of View per scene. Check to make sure there are no point of view slips, like a character describing how they look from an outsiders point of view.

*Compelling hook for each scene. Does the first sentence and paragraph of each scene grab the reader’s attention and pull them in? Check that it starts right in the middle of the action and not with too much lead.

*Character Like-abilityCheck that characters are like-able. Either we can relate to them in some way, or we are concerned for them. Show them doing something admirable, or having a problem we relate to.

*Eliminate -ly words. Usually -ly words tell instead of show what is happening. Eliminate them and challenge yourself to show the actions or emotions of the scene.

*Deepen Sensory ElementsInclude each of the senses in the scene to create a deeper experience for your reader.

*Eliminate Repetitive Words. Look for word favorites that you use too frequently. If you can’t see them, often someone else can. We all have favorite words we overuse.

*Strengthen Verb Choices. Read through and eliminate weak verb choices like passive verbs or helping verbs.

*Clear Character Goals / Obstacles / Stakes. Make sure that your point of view character has clear goals, obstacles and stakes for each scene. The absence of these results in no conflict or tension in the scene.

*Emotion is shown not told. Your entry should show the character’s emotion with the actions and thoughts they have, not through telling the reader how they feel. Dig deep to illustrate it with physical action.

*Cliffhanger or Suspense At the End of Each Scene. Keep the reader wanting more at the end of each scene by adding a cliffhanger or suspenseful moment.

Have you entered a writing contest? What do you find helps in preparing?

 

 

 

Advertisements

3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid

note-book-1492516-640x480Complex plots draw a reader into the story, craving that moment of awareness when all is unveiled at the end. The main plot alone can have many layers. These layers create depth in the story.

There is one particular kind of layer called a subplot that takes you on a journey through the eyes of another point of view character. Not all stories require a subplot, but it can add another dimension to your novel.

What is Subplot?

subplot is a secondary plot, or a strand of the main plot that runs parallel to it and supports it. … Not only does it show various aspects of the characters, connecting the readers with them, but also it is a story within a story – a sort of a subplot. (literary devices.net) ”

What is the Subplot’s Role?

It’s first and most important role is to support the plot. It may offer underlying threads to the spiritual thread of the book, but it must bring something to the overall plot that enriches it and completes it. It adds a multi-layered effect that intrigues readers and keeps them coming back for more.

3 Subplot Disasters To Avoid:

  1. Parallel Plots- This occurs when the plot and subplot merely share characters and a point in time. The subplot could stand alone and offers very little to the plot itself.
  2. Dangling Plot Thread– This occurs when a subplot does not feed back into the main plot at the end of the novel, supporting it’s conclusion. If it doesn’t impact the end of the novel in some way, it is left dangling with little purpose. It also happens when the subplot is incomplete and left without resolution.
  3. Competing Subplot- The subplot is supposed to strengthen the main plot, but when it competes with the main plot it creates the opposite effect. A subplot that overtakes the main plot in word count or interest level weakens it.

What do you think is the most complicated part of creating a subplot?

10 Reasons To Keep Believing In Spite Of Mistakes – NFL Bloopers And Writing Gaffs

cameraman-cameramen-football-1556888-640x480-1

Photo by j m Griffin

Have you made some mistakes that you are afraid you can’t recover from in your writing career?

When it comes to success, sometimes we can be our own  nemesis. We make mistakes, forget pitches, stick our feet in our mouths, you name it, it’s probably been done.

No matter what, Believe.

Here are some NFL bloopers that I’m sure the players thought they might not recover from, but they lived to play another day.

10 Reasons to Keep Believing in Spite of Mistakes:

  1. You Love To Write- At the end of the day, your voice won’t stay silent. You must write just as much as you must breathe.
  2. Editors Are Human – They have seen almost any mistake you have made before.
  3. Agents Are Human Too – They have heard almost every mistake in the book.
  4. Mentors Create A Lifeline – There are mentors in the writing community that will come along side you and give you get-back-on-track advice.
  5. You’re A Life-Long Learner – Writers are constantly learning new things about the trade. You never arrive. Just keep learning and be teachable.
  6. Someday You’ll Look Back And Laugh- Hold on to this thought. There will come a day when you see the humor in these moments.
  7. Everything Is Possible – Our Heavenly Father has promised that “All things are possible to those who love God.” (Phil. 4:13)
  8. You Are Not Alone – There are many on this writing journey with you. Find a local writing group or share with friends, but don’t go it alone.
  9. A Career Is Not Defined In One Day – Aren’t we all grateful for this?  One day will not make or break your career. Be patient with yourself.
  10. The Patriots Won The Superbowl – In an unprecedented comeback, never before seen in history, the Patriots won the Superbowl. If they can do it, against all odds and Superbowl past stats, so can you!

Who else has come back from sure defeat in their past, or can you think of someone in history that has made a huge comeback?

Message In A Bottle To The Younger You – Music Mondays with Author Michelle Lim

Photo by jim daly

Photo by jim daly

As a kid, I was high octane. I woke up at 5 a.m. each day, waiting for the rest of the house to wake up. Ready for adventure was my middle name. There was no limit to my energy.

I’m not sure exactly what happened between then and now, but somewhere along the way some of that boundless energy seeped out. Adventure still excites me, but I am a bit slower to chase after it.

Back then I rushed into everything without the wisdom of years, but I learned much along the way. Still, many moments were wasted on frivolous things.

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self bits of wisdom to help me through, I would say to dream bigger, reach higher, and work harder.

A new song made me think about what I might tell myself about this moment years down the road.

How can I cease this moment and make it all it can be?

Mondays are difficult to get moving. Creativity is stuck in the pudding between my ears. But each moment counts. There is so much that I can do today to chase my dreams.

Imagine you could do anything at all, reach any dream you put your heart into.

If you knew you could reach that dream, what would you do right this moment? Today?

Plot your direction today with that in mind. Think of what you would tell yourself a few years from now about this moment and act on it.

Don’t wait for regret to set in. There is only one today to be lived. Live it with all of your aspirations on your sleeve for all to see. Capture each moment with the dream in mind.

What will you do today to capture the wisdom of your older self, before today is gone?

 

 

 

3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day

Photo by esra su

Photo by esra su

Have you met someone who talks in monotone?

I’ve met a few. We’ve all been subjected to speakers who made us yawn from the moment they started speaking.

Imagine the last time you sat with your family or extended family around the table. Think of the different words and tones they used to communicate.

From the hippie, to the teenager, to the toddler, to the politician, they all have a unique choice of words and tone. The politician may strive to be politically correct and not offend anyone. The teenager’s words may ooze sarcasm.

Who are voices in your scenes?

Do you have enough different tones and unique word choices? These differences create an auditory pallet for your novel’s dialogue. The more diverse your auditory pallet, the more unique each character will feel to readers.

In creating dialogue today, think about how you can add richness to your story through voice. Use these 3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day.

3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day:

Tell your writing pal or a friend one of the most unique individuals you remember for their tone and word choices. Review what you wrote yesterday in the final scene. Then answer the following questions about your cast of characters.

  1. What are the different auditory palettes of my characters? You should have at least a few different varieties, if not, go back and add them in.
  2. What can I do to enrich these or add secondary characters to make a scene’s auditory diversity more obvious? Put characters with different dialogue styles in the same scenes together. This will create greater interest in your scenes. That is why we often see a side-kick character very different than the hero or heroine.
  3. How can I more clearly define my hero/heroine’s word choices and tones? Make your hero/heroine the only one who sounds like they do in your novel.

If you are looking for more Idea Sparking Tips like these, you can find them in my book- Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month.

One of my favorite author’s for dialogue is Mildred Taylor. Another favorite is Susan May Warren who once used the phrase, “How do you like your yellars?” (Eggs) Her newest release is: Where There’s SmokeBoth of these authors have very rich dialogue in their novels.

 

What are some of your favorite dialogue characters?

3 Brainstorming Tips To Jump Start A Novel Scene – Survival Tips For Writer’s Block

 

Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Writer’s block can drain creativity and stump even the most prolific writers. The longer you write, the more likely you are to face this dilemma.

Brainstorming with writers to help them strengthen and deepen their novels has become a passion of mine. To help writers with these dilemmas, I’ve written 2 Brainstorming Books: Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel and Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month.

Maybe you are struggling with the blank page and just need a boost to get you through. If you are staring at a blank page with no words in your mind, you may find these 3 Brainstorming Tips To Jump Start A Novel Scene helpful.

These Survival Tips For Writer’s Block are some that I have learned from others on my journey, or developed from my own experiences. Even if you are at a stuck spot in your novel, you can brainstorm your way into your next scene.

3 Brainstorming Tips To Jump Start A Novel Scene:

Photo by Bobbi Dombrowski

Photo by B. Dombrowski

*Brainstorm from a place of strength. Most of us have a favorite part of the novels we read, whether it be plot, characters, or setting. Start brainstorming the thread you love first. If it is characters, then think about how your character is feeling, what they see, what they are doing, etc. If your love is setting, then brainstorm where the scene takes place first.

By brainstorming from a place of strength you can eliminate that pesky writer’s block that often leaves us staring at a blank page.

*Brainstorm using the emotion of the character in the scene. Susan May Warren taught me this amazing tip through My Book Therapy.

Name the emotion a character is experiencing and build the scene from this place. Ask yourself what setting would be best to showcase this emotion. Think of what metaphor in that setting could mirror the emotion of the character. Add sensory details that personify that emotion and dialogue that supports it.

One of my favorite examples of this kind of scene is in the Movie Twister:

Notice in this scene how the barn is full of those farm implements that adds to the feeling of danger.

*Brainstorm using a simple sentence of what happens in the scene. This can be as basic as the character and a verb of what they will do. From there, determine what will stand in their way of accomplishing it. Then identify who will see this happen, where it will occur, and the sensory details.

An author friend of mine, Lisa Jordan, created a fabulous note card style guide for this to use each time. It has helped me multiple times in developing scenes.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

What’s Your Brand of Crazy? – Funny Side of Life with Author Michelle Lim

Photo by Angelique Gerber

Photo by Angelique Gerber

Fridays on thoughtsonplot are taking a whole new twist. Here is what you can expect:

*Week One Funny Side of Life – A dash of fun, or humor to brighten your day.

*Week Two  Where in the World Is. . . – Pictures from our readers in a recognizable location reading a book (send them to: michelle.linn.lim@gmail.com with subject Where in the World Picture). Then all of you sleuthy types out there, or geography buffs can help figure out where the picture was taken. The selected person will also get a shout out to their inspirational fiction book page on Amazon of the book they are reading in the photo.

*Week Three My Space/My World – Tips for doing life like recipes, organization tips, Mom life, etc.

*Week Four Fan Friday – Special Guest Authors or Industry Experts in a variety of professions.

Don’t forget to send in your photos for next week and be sure to include the location and amazon link for the book in your picture. (Please note we will select Inspirational or Christian Fiction Book Links only) Be watching for a return email, so you know if your picture is posting and when.

Now on to the Funny Side of Life.

A friend of mine sent me this quote this week:

“I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR SPECIFIC KIND OF CRAZY, BUT I DO ADMIRE YOUR TOTAL COMMITMENT TO IT.” ~ANONYMOUS

I laughed at that one. I totally get it.

I do have my own specific kind of crazy, but what is it exactly? 

Is it the fact that I don’t like to put on lotion, I eat peas in my spaghetti, I drink Mt. Dew instead of coffee, and I hate it when raw meat touches my other foods at the grocery store?

Or, could it be I sing Christmas carols in July, I hate hot dogs, I love to fish, and I speak to imaginary characters as a full grown adult?

Yeah, I have my own specific kind of crazy.

What’s Your Brand of Crazy?