Monday, March 12, 2012


So you have a great idea for a story or a novel. You have a character and a basic idea of how you want your story to get to that “happily ever after”. But how do you take the story from “once upon a time” and sustain it for dozens of pages to get to the “happily ever after”? One way to help may be to invest some time in some advance story planning and outlining. Outlining provides the framing for your story, a basic structure through which to weave the substance of your story. The key to successful outlining is not to screw your frame down too tight; keep those screws loose enough you can move a beam here or there, put in a window where you first thought you wanted a door, or change the pitch line of your roof. Keep in mind it is a BASIC frame and not the final draft. Don’t be afraid to change your blueprint if your story takes you in a different direction.

Once you have your completed novel manuscript in hand, revised it once or twice or a dozen times, dotted your “I”s and crossed your “T”s, what can you do to try to get it onto a bookstore’s shelf? Nowadays, publishing can take many forms from print-on-demand, to subsidized publishing, to e-publishing to traditional New York house publishing. Getting accepted into the traditional publishing world requires playing the submission game. Generally it requires finding agents and/or publishers; sending them query letters with various synopsis, sample chapters, resumes, etc.; waiting; waiting; waiting; and more waiting; collecting rejection letters and maybe, just maybe getting someone to say, “YES!”

If you want to learn more about the “Before & After” of novel/fiction writing, plan to attend the identically titled session of MidwestWriting Center’s March 24, 2012 Pen In Hand Mini Writing Conference from 3:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in downtown Davenport, Iowa.

Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty, both prolific published fiction authors, will teach this workshop session. Mark is the author of 20-plus books, with more forthcoming, and more than 1,000 published stories and articles, in addition to his career as a marketing & PR professional. His books include MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL (with Michael McCarty), PARTNERS IN SLIME (with Michael McCarty), RAISING DEMONS FOR FUN & PROFIT, and MOTIVATIONAL SHRIEKER, among others. Mike's short stories and interviews have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. He is the author of three books of interviews; a nonfiction collection; five fiction collections including All Things Dark and Hideous which was co-written with Bram Stoker Award-winner, Mark McLaughlin; a paperback poetry collection; novels and a novella. McCarty was the former staff writer for “Science Fiction Weekly” (the website of the Sci-Fi Channel)

Discounts for this and the three other Pen In Hand sessions are offered for early registrants, members and bulk buyers. Click here or call 563/324-1410 for more information and learn how to register.

by Jodie Toohey,
Follow Jodie as she blogs about all things MWC

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