Storymakers: Kirk Shaw, Covenant Editor

Notes from the 2008 LDStorymakers Conference

Workshop: Ten Ways to Get Your Story Noticed
Presenter: Kirk Shaw, Workshop on Friday
Submitted by: Karlene Browning

(I have 10 things on my list but they don’t match up well with the 10 things in the syllabus, so if someone else wants to add to this list, please feel free to go right ahead and do it.)

First, he said that if we attended the conference, we could use his name and submit directly to him, skipping the slush pile entirely. He said he’s looking for: gift books, 32 page children’s picture books, suspense, action, romance, historical epics, YA and childrens (chapter books). He stressed that they needed to be a good read and DYNAMIC.

1. Cover letter—Do research to make sure they publish your type of book. First paragraph should include word count, genre and subgenre (ex: not just “mystery” but “who-done-it cop story”). You can also say it’s similar to a particular author. Don’t use modifiers. Be objective: “this is what my book is.” List credentials if you’ve been published before. (Credentials = it’s printed; you’ve been paid for it.)

2. Openers for your book—Do NOT start with eating, sleeping, dreaming, flashbacks, anything sedentary or far away from your story. DO start with interest and action.

3. Formatting your manuscript—Follow publishers guidelines. Use MS Word; do not use WordPerfect.

4. Proofread—Make sure your manuscript is your best work. Have it proofed.

5. Dialogue—Don’t use heavy tags (ex: “Don’t go into the woods,” she whispered breathlessly.) Avoid dialogue tags when you can. Give each character their own voice, so they could be recognized without the dialog tag.

6. Be fresh—Give us a twist on the setting, plot, etc.

7. Characters—Avoid polar characters who are all good or all bad. Give them unique voices. Give them unique names; don’t have them all start with the same letter.

8. Conflict—You need meaningful conflict that moves you toward your end goal.

9. Writing Style—Watch for your pet words and phrases. (Ex: actually, suddenly, however.) Use sensory experiences. Show, don’t tell. Be consistent in your narrative style.

10. Climax—Your entire story should aim toward the climax and move you that direction in some way.

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

4 thoughts on “Storymakers: Kirk Shaw, Covenant Editor”

  1. Thank you, Karlene, for taking notes and thank you, LDSP, for posting this. I missed the workshop so I’m glad to have these notes.

  2. No using WordPerfect??? Argh! Just for the record, I hate MSWord with a purple passion. I am forced to use it at work, but gladly revert to WP at home.

  3. Remember the phrase, “Move over bacon, here comes Sizziline.”???
    Well MSWord has a similar line for WordPerfect called, “Move over everyone else, Bill Gates rules the world.”
    I used to be a WP gal, but I got with the times long ago. 🙂
    This workshop was really great by the way and I love what you’re doing, LDSP, by posting stuff, I don’t have to guilt myself into typing my hand-written notes. 🙂

  4. WordPerfect shouldn’t be an issue as long as you can save your file in RTF format. Any page layout program (and MS Word, too) can read an RTF file with no problems and keep your formatting intact. Just don’t try to send your editor a WP file since most of them can’t open it.

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