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 July, 2001

The Next Step

by Sandy Tritt

     You’ve done it.  You’ve spent a goodly portion of your life writing the story that had to be told.  So now what do you do?

            Are you ready to be published?  Enter a contest?  Seek an agent?

            Probably not.  Before you share your writing with the world, make sure you have written your story as well as you possibly can.  If you belong to an on-line writer’s group or critique exchange, solicit opinions from other writers about what is good and what needs improvement.  Likewise, if you belong to a local writer’s group, share your work and gather opinions.  But be careful.

            Writing – and the critiquing of that writing – is subjective.  That means that unlike an Algebra problem that has only one correct answer, writing is subject to the feelings and opinions of the reader.  What one reader lovers, another will hate.  Which leaves you open to an onslaught of public opinion that you will need to wade through, choosing which comments strengthen your prose and which only confuse you.  To make matter more complex, you must put aside your pride and protectiveness, and examine suggestions logically.

            You may want to consider hiring a professional critiquing service.  If so, shop around.  Some offer critiques only, which is simply an assessment of your story.  Others offer editing only, which corrects grammar and spelling, and suggests rewording, where appropriate.  Others are full service.  After examining the services offered, you may want to request references or a sample critique.

            Perhaps most importantly, choose one that respects you.  Choose one whose goal is to make you a better writer through compassionate teaching, not one that gets power trips from destroying your confidence.

            And remember: critiquing is subjective.  Gather professional opinions.  Consider the merit of the suggestions.  But don’t change a word unless doing so feels right to you.

            Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers




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Tracking Submissions

Keep a record as you submit your manuscript to various publishers. 

Please do not neglect this, as it helps you objectify the Submissions process and it can help you to avoid "taking it personal" when an editor blinks another "no" in your direction.

To do this, start a database listing in Excel, Access, a Personal Information Manager, or even in a Word Table or Mailmerge Datalist.

What to track? Here are the variables, or fields, I usually use...

  • Publishing House

  • Contact (editor's name)

  • Manuscript Submitted (Query, if book-length)

  • Date Submitted

  • Follow-up Date

  • Date Publisher Asked to Review (book-length only)

  • Date Accepted (sometimes this is blank!)

  • Date Published

Prepare these for each time you submit. Then you can sort by manuscript, publisher, or date.

Keep reviewing the list and  keep submitting manuscripts on a regular basis. The more you do this the more the approval process (and rejection) become routine. 

Believe me, a routine rejection is nowhere near as difficult as a rejection which hits you in the chest, when you can't help taking it personally.

Yours in Acceptance (and Rejection),

Bruce Cook

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Writing Assignment:

Sequencing, Foreshadowing

This month we finally get to leave the preliminaries behind: setting, character, and conflict X 4.

This month we simply write one of the action scenes - perhaps the one just after the conflict passage you just worked on (pick the best of your 4).

Now this is important, as a scene (or sequence) is a basic building block when telling a story. 

Basically, a scene opens, carries the protagonist or others through an experience, and then has an ending. A natural ending which is called for by the rest of the action.

For example, if your hero awakens, stretches, lifts the phone and begins to speak, we may safely expect the scene will end with a hang-up or a situation where the hero gets up out of bed and leaves the room.

But - importantly - this month we want you to build a "Blip" into the action scene. For our purposes, I define a "Blip" as a foreshadowing of action to come in the following scene. (For example, when the main character lifts the phone, we can safely expect to stick around until the conversation terminates somehow.)

Next month we'll work on a more distant form of foreshadowing.

So get writing! We look forward to receiving your next submission. Mail to:


Thank you!

If [you] can continue to send me more useful information of any sort pertaining to writing it would be greatly appreciated. Your March newsletter has already been of a good deal of help to me. 

Thank you

Dave Fox

Publishing New Writers,

July, 2001 (no.207)

Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions and comments to cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.



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