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October 2011

Reporter: Lisa Jordan

Lisa JordanLisa Jordan has been writing for a decade, taking a hiatus to earn her degree in early childhood education. When she isn’t writing, she is busy running an in-home early learning center, raising a husband and two young adult men, and directing her church’s children’s ministry program. She is the editor of Voices, the My Book Therapy ezine and a bi-monthly contributor to PG Magazine. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, published by Love Inspired will release in November 2011. Visit her here.

Editor: Vicki Talley McCollum

Vicki Talley McCollumVicki Talley McCollum, freelance editor and writer, is the book review editor for ACFW’s Afictionado ezine, an associate copyeditor for MBT Voices, and a fiction columnist for FCW Ready Writer ezine. She is a member of ACFW, MBT, FCW, and the Christian Editor’s Network. Visit her website and her blog.

Workshop 27: All Glammed Up!

Susan May WarrenAward-winning, multi-published author Susan May Warren (right) presented the All Glammed Up workshop, which focused on helping writers put the final touches on their manuscripts before submission.

Plotting and characterization

Warren presented a checklist of plotting and characterization elements, overall story-crafting suggestions, such as purposeful scenes, motivating action, likeable characters, and unexpected surprises, and the art of craft mechanics. She also discussed the scenes essential for a strong, completed novel.

Essential scenes

  • Meet the hero or heroine—the storyworld (who, what, when, where)
  • The hero’s and heroine’s identity, goals, greatest dream, and competence
  • What stands in the way of their goals
  • What holds them back from giving their hearts
  • The beginning of change
  • Foreshadowing of the black moment
  • The sacrificial act
  • The black-moment event


Warren compared wordsmithing to a “wrapping the reader in a blanket” experience. She suggested writers remember the following:

  • Include five senses in each scene.
  • Replace unnecessary adverbs ending in -ly with strong verbs.
  • Replace adjectives with defined nouns.
  • Revise passive sentences.
  • Cut repeating sentences.
  • Search for overused words.
  • Replace dialogue tags with action beats.

She explained the difference between strengthening a scene and rearranging words. Strengthening the scene enables the reader to have an emotional response with the story. Warren suggested using setting, dialogue, body language, and words to cut to the heart of the character.

Query letter

Include a first paragraph hook with the premise and then summarize the book in two or three sentences. If writers can’t figure out their story in one or two sentences, then they aren’t ready to submit. Dramatic irony helps writers find those story keys that contradict to create an engaging story tagline.

After the summary paragraph, explain where your manuscript fits in the publishing world, who you are, and why you are the right person to write the book.

Using Warren’s guidelines, writers will get their manuscripts all glammed up for submission.

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