Is Your Manuscript is Ready to Submit? The Agony of Deciding

Submission: How do you know if you story is ready go submit. Short answer: you don't. But here are things to consider. |

A fellow writer recently posed this question to me: Is my mss ready to submit? THE AGONY OF DECIDING The short answer is, you don’t know. You can only send it out and see what response you get. That’s agony. You want to be accepted and published, but no one can guarantee that. The simple […]

4 Revision Goals: Conflict, Emotion, Surprise, Enrich

4 Revision Goals: from Darcy Pattison's Fiction Notes blog at

For the next month, my writing goals for my work-in-progress novel trilogy are clear: conflict, emotion, surprise, enrich. The trilogy is tentatively called, The Blue Planets, and is an early-teen or YA science fiction. Book 1, The Blue Marble, has a complete draft; for Books 2 and 3, I have complete outlines. I’m happy with […]

Beta Readers: Facts, Grammar, Plot, Character and More


Thanks to the computer industry, we no longer have first readers, we have beta readers. Early versions of software that engineers expect to be riddled with problems were called beta versions. Beta is the second letter in the Greek alphabet, so presumably, the alpha versions were kept all in-house. Betas were the first public versions […]

Continuity Goofs: Avengers, Hunger Games and Your Novel


When my picturebook, The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman was first published, I lied to my mother-in-law. When she saw this image of Tameka writing a letter to her Uncle Ray, my MIL noticed that Tameka was left-handed. I told her that I asked the illustrator, Joe Cepeda especially to make her left handed like […]

A Big Storytelling DON’T: Messing with Timelines

A Big Storytelling DON'T: Mess with Timelines and You Risk Confusing Your Reader | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison

Writers should respect timelines. Ten years ago, I taught writing at a university and the world-wide-web was just coming online and theories of hypertext fiction were bouncing around. One popular theme of these stories was that the timeline didn’t matter. Imagine a central event and going out from that, like spokes in a wheel were […]

5 Amazingly Simple Ways to Transform Quiet Scenes into Exciting Scenes


Today, I worked on a difficult scene. It wasn’t a big action-packed scene; those are easy. Instead, it was a transition scene that moved the story along a week and had the potential to lose the reader with it’s lack of tension. Donald Maass, in his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, repeats this signature mantra, […]

I Want a Dog by Darcy Pattison


Today launches two new books for me. How the Stories Started. For years, I’ve taught writing. I teach everything from kindergarteners to advanced novelist, gifted-and-talented kids to reluctant writers. I’ve developed techniques for helping people write stronger and they usually involve either revising or prewriting. In schools, it’s hard to get kids to revise; they […]

Is My Story Good or Bad? Wrong Question


Last year, I did a simple survey on the list and asked writers, “What is your biggest challenge for 2015?” The answer blew me away. You want to know, “Is my picture book/novel/short story/piece of writing any good?” This was expressed in many different ways, of course, but at the core, you want to know […]

Outrage: A Negative Emotion that Works In Your Novel


As 2014 events unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri and in New York City over race relations, I watched with a storyteller’s eye. That’s not to make light of the events–which have sparked massive debates and outrage. Rather, I put on my writer’s glasses and tried to evaluate the news reports AS A WRITER. Conflict on Every […]

Openings: 5 Ways They Go Wrong


Openings are incredibly important. This was brought back to me recently as I was judging a contest. Those manuscripts that kept my interest for three pages were rare. Usually, they lost me by the middle of page two! Am I harsh? I don’t think so. Grab the Reader with Your Opening Lines Noah Lukeman has […]