Monday, October 27, 2008

Call for submissions -- Drop The Needle: TENSION

Ready for another fun crit round?

This week, we're going to focus on tension. We all know that tension is what propels a story forward, makes us want to keep reading. It's like a sneeze that builds up and won't come out unless we stare at a light bulb. (No, seriously; it works. Have you tried it?) The sneeze feels so much better after all that build-up.

That was a weird analogy, but give me grace; it's Monday.

So I want you to submit a 250-word excerpt from anywhere in your novel. And I want to feel the TENSION building.

Note: Do not choose a scene that includes the resolution of the tension. Keep us dangling. I want some palpable tension that forces me to beg for more of the story!

Tension doesn't always equal fear, of course. It can be friction between two characters, a situation that's coming to a head, anxiety, a race against time, complications added to an already complicated development, and yes, sheer terror. So pick a scene where you really want your readers to feel the tension, and submit via the following guidelines:

Send a 250-word excerpt to facelesswords(at) in the following format:


One to two sentences to give us a lead-in to the scene.

The 250 words, minus weird fonts (italics are okay).

I will accept submissions until Wednesday, October 29, at 9:00 am EDT. I will post them all later that day so we can jump right in with the crits.

Please post your questions here!


  1. Yay! I'm excited!

    *runs off to manuscript to search for great TENSION scene*

  2. Tension??? *goes and looks*

    It doesn't need to be finished or ready to query, right?

  3. That's right -- when we have our in-house crits, the manuscripts do not have to be finished. :)

  4. :) Yay! I have a scene from a new book that's sopposed to be tense but I'm not sure is doing the job :o) I think that will be my victim this round.

  5. OMG! I so stare at light bulbs, the sun....whatever is bright if I need to sneeze!

    :) Terri

  6. Well, if you've read Donald Maas' book, "Writing the Breakthrough Novel," you'd understand that tension is supposed to be "on every page."

    But this should be fun!

  7. Terri -- I was waiting for SOMEONE to say it! :)

    Anon -- Yep, I've read it. I've deemed it one of the "less helpful" books for writers out there; it's pretty esoteric if you're looking for nuts and bolts. But if what he said about tension is true, then it should be fairly easy for everyone to pick a page to submit. :D

  8. Can we enter more than one tense scene from the same manuscript?

  9. Check back with me tomorrow around the same time. If submissions aren't overly heavy, I'll open it to a second submission from anyone who has one.

  10. Cool! *debates* I'll ruffle through what I have and see what I can find. ;)


  11. Woo! Tension! This should be good. *is off to see what she can rustle up*

  12. Um, what time does it end London time? :D

  13. Yuna! You've been around this long and you STILL don't have that figured out? ;D

  14. Hi! I'm new to your (excellent) blog and while I hate to be the annoying newbie asking the annoying questions . . .

    My scene is 272 words. Would you prefer I cut out twenty-two words or should I just submit as is? Thanks!

  15. Hi Kris!

    People who ask questions are not annoying. People who do stupid things because they DIDN'T ask questions are annoying! :D

    I don't mind when subs go a little over in the interest of keeping the final sentence intact (say, 254 words or so). But 272 is kinda pushing it. See if you can cut a sentence off the top or bottom to get closer to the 250 limit.

  16. Sounds good - thanks. :)

  17. This is so much fun. Thank you, Authoress