Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do's and Don'ts from Editors' Panel

On Saturday, October 25, I attended the Saturday Writers' "Turn the Page" Workshop. One of the highlights was the Editors' Panel, where three panelists (ala American Idol) critiqued 100-word anonymously-submitted excerpts of short stories, articles, memoirs, or non-fiction features from workshop attendees.

Panelists included: Rebecca French Smith, Managing Editor from "Missouri Life Magazine"; Dr. Susan Swartwout, Director/Publisher of Southeast Missouri State University Press which produces books and "Big Muddy: Journal of the Mississippi River Valley"; and Anna Genoese, freelance editor and consultant for Tor/Forge Books (who announced she would play the role of Simon).

Here are a few of the panelists' Do's and Don'ts on how to grab an editor's attention:

Do:
Start fast
Put the reader in place
Show the narrator's voice
Put the speaker up front in an article
Give a clear picture
Be straightforward
Use dialogue, but not dialectics
Use strong, descriptive language
Show conflict early

Don't:
Start with a question
Start with a dream
Start with “imagine”
Start with waking up to an alarm clock
Show narrator looking into a mirror
Use repeated remembering
Use too much description
Summarize
Start with "it" or "to be" - they are killers for starters

Tomorrow I will share their market-specific suggestions.

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