Showing posts from July, 2006

Novel Manuscript Format for CBA Publishers

Novel Manuscript Format for CBA Publishers Things are a bit different between Christian publishers and mainstream publishers, so this article will mostly address the fiction guidelines of the major CBA publishers and agents. (Non-fiction guidelines may differ.) The following instructions for changing the formatting of your electronic document is for Microsoft Word versions older than 2007. I'm not familiar with Word Perfect or Word 2007, unfortunately, so in order to change your settings to the formatting mentioned below, you will need to do a website search for instructions (for example, you can Google “How to set margins in Word 2007”). Most publishing houses use Microsoft Word, whether the older versions or 2007. Printer: Use a good printer. Avoid dot-matrix printers entirely. If you do not own a printer, your pages can be printed out at your local print shop or office supply store for a modest price if you bring your document to them on a disk or CD. Paper: Should be

Winners of the Story Sensei Summer Sale!

Drumroll, please . . . BookWritingBlog and Caroleah Congratulations! Each winner received: One free synopsis critique (up to 10 single-spaced pages) AND A coupon for 25% off any service (synopsis, query letter, or manuscript critique, full or partial manuscript) Mucho thanks to everyone who entered! If you entered but you haven’t yet gotten your 10% off coupon, please e-mail me at camy [at] All 10% off coupons are good toward any service, and they expire on December 31st, 2006. I'll be holding another contest/sale in December or January, so stay tuned!

Story Sensei Summer Sale!

A writers’ summer event! From now until July 15th, I will be holding a fabulous contest for my Story Sensei critique service. I will draw the names of TWO lucky winners! They will each receive: A free synopsis critique – up to 10 pages single-spaced, a $40 value! AND A coupon for 25% OFF any manuscript critique – whether full or partial manuscript, any number of words. For a 100,000 word manuscript, that’s a savings of $250! In addition, EVERYONE WHO ENTERS will receive a 10% OFF coupon for any service, whether synopsis, query letter, or manuscript critique (full or partial). For a 100,000 word manuscript, that’s a savings of $100, just for entering. Just post a comment on this Story Sensei blog to enter! Make sure you leave some way for me to contact you—whether e-mail, website address, or blog address. If leaving an e-mail, please use this format: you [at] International writers are welcome to enter, but must either use electronic submissions or pay for postage both way This is a great website and blog for writers. At you will receive the INSIDE information that is key to understanding what goes on behind the scenes of major New York trade publishers. Jerry Simmons, a former director of sales for Random House, runs this site. He also has a free ezine.


TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER is considered a classic writing book. I personally found it extremely helpful to teach me the basics of plotting and structuring a novel, but the author tends to ramble in his instructions, which can be annoying. I’ve written articles based on Swain’s book in my writing articles blog, Camy’s Articles . Swain’s main concept, Scene and Sequel, is explained well in this article by Randy Ingermanson, “ Writing the Perfect Scene .” Another good book that not only explains some of Swain’s points but also expands on them is PLOT AND STRUCTURE by James Scott Bell .

Setting as a character

Setting should be so integral to the plot that it’s almost like another character. Think about Gone With the Wind—Scarlett’s plantation, and the political, social, and physical landscape of the South played significant roles in both the plot and character development. Ideally, your setting should also play a vital role in the story, so that your story couldn’t happen anywhere else. You might want to brainstorm how key landmarks would play major roles in the storyline, in order to more fully integrate the story where you have set it. Update: As one reviewer mentioned on, don’t take this to a cheesy, overused extreme—such as having it rain when a character is sad, thunder when a character is in danger, etc. I wasn’t talking about weather when mentioning setting. However, you don’t want your story to be set in Anywhere, USA, either. The most vivid stories tend to be deeply ingrained in their setting, so that the characters could only go through the story events in that partic

Deep POV

In general, any use of "felt," "heard," "saw," etc. borders on "telling" and draws the reader out of the character's deep Point of View. You can usually get rid of them, and it serves to tighten the prose, making it more vibrant and emotional. For example: He understood how much this would mean to her. He knew she’d be worried. versus This would mean a lot to her. She’d be worried. He prayed she’d understand why he did what he did. He could only hope she wouldn’t walk away. Versus Lord, please help her understand why I had to do it. She wouldn’t walk away, would she? You might want to go through your novel to seek and destroy those kinds of verbs. Although they’re action verbs, they distance the reader from the character. By getting rid of them and rewriting the sentences, you can draw the reader closer to the characters to feel their emotions more.

External Goals

Main characters need concrete, physical external goals to carry them through the story. This is different from a character’s desires and motivations. External goals have a definite ENDING to them—the character knows definitely when they’ve either completed or failed at their external goal. For example, Carrie wants financial success. But that’s hard to define. How would she know when she’d achieved it? When would be that moment? But if Carrie had an external goal of paying back the last penny of her business loan before the bank forecloses, that’s definitive. She knows exactly when she’s succeeded—the act of paying the last installment—or when she fails—the bank forecloses. In GETTING INTO CHARACTER , Brandilyn Collins uses the terms “Desire” or “Super-Objective,” but it’s the same thing as an External Goal because she requires that the “Desire” be stated in ACTION TERMS, meaning what the character is going to DO. That’s their external goal.

Creating a pitch

I use Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method , and I realized that the 5-sentence summary in step 2 is an easy, painless way of creating a 30-second verbal pitch. The 5-sentence summary consists of story setup, three plot disasters and lastly the ending/resolution. It made me break the storyline down into basic components, made sure I have those crucial three disasters, and also helped me to look at the pacing of those disasters. I'm pretty stoked. When I took Jan Coleman 's pitch workshop at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference , she also mentioned a few important things to include, which I believe can be incorporated in the 5-sentence summary once that groundwork is laid: 1) The book genre—Chicklit, cozy mystery, Regency romance, etc. This can be mentioned in the first sentence. "In my Chicklit novel, Ashley is a bored urbanite seeking purpose, and she decides to bring her version of civilization to South African natives." (Genre and setup, sentence 1) 2) Ton