Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Bitter truth: Haste leads to rejection

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Apr• 01•14

Bitter Brew          I sometimes hear from writers who have written a manuscript, then immediately contacted an agent or editor with plans for  getting published.  They believe they’re (whoopee!) on their way to publication. Problem is, the manuscript is nowhere near ready for the bright lights of a publishing house. Too many writers fall into the common trap of writing fiction without an adequate understanding of its structure and underpinnings. Without this understanding you end up with a lot of words but not a rollicking story.

It pains me to say this, but if you’re seeking representation with hopes of a publishing contract, first complete the rewrites and make certain that every part of the story reveals a deep  level of craft. Make certain that the story first goes out to beta readers and that it has been copy edited.

I’m not trying to dissuade you, but to encourage you to create a polished product. And this goes double for people who are slapping together “stories” and self publishing them. You’re clogging up the marketplace where thousands of writers are toiling away trying to create their  best works.

Spend time analyzing how published authors create action scenes and emulate them. EVERY scene you should ask yourself:  1- Is the character doing something interesting? 2- Is the action moving the story forward? And 3- Does the change in the scene matter?

Here’s a quick structure cheat sheet:

 The dramatic question is:_________________________________

 Main story line is:_______________________________________



 Important Secondary Characters:

 Subplot A

 Subplot B

 Subplot C

 Subplot D

 Most crucial back story scenes/elements:







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