Let's roll up our sleeves and try something unique: A "How Poignant Is This Secondary Character" Drop The Needle critique round, inspired by Karen Duvall in the comments box. (See? I really do listen to what you all have to say!)
Secondary characters can make or break our stories. They are either strong, memorable, believable; or they are cardboard, weak, two-dimensional. Or worse -- clichéd. These characters aren't heavy on the action or the dialogue in the grand scheme of things, but we desperately need them to work for us. And sometimes we might be tempted to cut corners and not develop them as fully as we've developed our main characters.
So. Submit a 250-word chunk of your manuscript that showcases a secondary character. The scene can be dialogue-rich or action-rich; you decide. The main thrust of this exercise is, does my secondary character work? Is he developed? Intriguing? Hateful? Lovable? Unforgettable? You-wish-he-would-die-able?
Don't give us any lead-in or backstory. Just "drop the needle" and let us wade through. Strong characters will jump off a page even if we don't know the whole story.
Send your submission to facelesswords(at)gmail.com. Include the TITLE and GENRE at the top.
As for formatting? I had the most trouble with submissions that had double-spaced formatting and text that was centered (as in a title). Also odd fonts tripped me up from time to time. So let's do an experiment here. Please stick with Times New Roman or something similar. No uni-space fonts (like Courier; believe it or not, it caused problems when I cut-and-pasted). Not because I'm anal retentive or anything, but because I'd like to see if I can cut down on formatting glitches prior to our next big Secret Agent contest.
Submit any time between now and Wednesday, July 30 at 9:00 am EDT (that's 2:00 pm in London). Entries will go up shortly thereafter and you can begin your critiques.
Please leave your questions in the comment box here.