A couple of weeks ago, the Northern Virginia Writers hosted Kathryn Johnson, a prolific author and writing coach, who spoke on "Polishing for Publication: 12 Troubleshooting Tips Anyone Can Use to Create a Marketable Manuscript."
I'm not inclined to reveal all 12 of Kathryn's tips here since that training is her bread and butter, but I'll share two.
- Make your opening sentence count. Opening sentences should create curiosity in the reader and raise some questions. The example Kathryn shared was Tracy Chevalier's "Girl with a Pearl Earring," which begins, My mother did not tell me they were coming. Who are "they"? Why did the narrator feel she should be told? What will happen when they come? Great stuff.
- Use lots of dialogue. According to Kathryn, dialogue ... and plenty of it ... is all the rage for editors these days. Get your characters talking!
Now, onto the cool stuff alluded to in the second part of my headline...
Check out this amazing video, which I discovered in the comment section of my favorite Crossword Puzzle blog, The JimH Crossword Blog. (If you are a NYT puzzle fan, this site is a "can't miss.") (The video is non-crossword related, BTW.)
And, check out the highly amusing GraphJam, which came to my attention courtesy of Eric Berlin, an expert puzzler and a kid lit writer. Warning: GraphJam has the potential to be a major time suck. (It also is non-crossword related.)