Monday, December 14, 2009

Drop the Needle: Submissions Open!

Well, it's been quite a while, so here's a refresher:

  • This is an in-house critique session. If you would like to submit your work, please understand that you need to participate by critting a minimum of 5 other entries.
  • Unlike the Secret Agent contests, this critique sessions DOES NOT require that you submit an excerpt from a completed novel. Bear in mind, however, that the better polished/edited your excerpt, the more useful the critique will be.
  • Your excerpt should be 250 words long (give or take a word or two for the sake of ending at a period).
  • "Drop the Needle" is an old term from the days of phonographs (the days of what?). When a music professor "drops the needle" in the middle of a piece of music, the student should be able to identify the composer and title of the work. (Only the cruelest of professors do this sort of thing.) Hence, the scene that you submit can be from anywhere in your novel. It does NOT have to be the first page.
  • Submissions are now open, and will remain open through the end of tomorrow, Tuesday, December 15. I will only close them if the number becomes unmanageable (50 is usually the doable limit).


Submit 250 words from your WIP or completed novel that portray a sense of danger or a developing dangerous scene. This scene should be MOSTLY NARRATIVE. (Some dialogue is always fine, but choose something that is not primarily dialogue.) Focus of critiques will be on PACING and TENSION. Do we feel the danger? Do we care what happens next?

Please submit your excerpt in the following format:


*A sentence or two (not an entire essay, please) giving us a lead-in to your scene

*The 250 words

And, as always, email your submission to me at facelesswords(at)

Questions? Post them below!


  1. Possibly this is a silly question but as I've never participated before, how do we critique other submissions? Will they be posted here?

  2. No question is silly!

    They will be posted here on Wednesday. Critiques will be left in the comment boxes.

  3. How do I submit? to whre or on what link?

  4. Great opportunity! Looking forward to Wednesday. Will our screen names be posted with each entry, or will they be anonymous?

  5. Hey BronNZ! Instructions on the post say to email her at the address provided. If you do that, I bet it'll go through without a problem.

  6. sounds fantastic! How will we know if we're a successful entrant?

    Peter T

  7. i don't have anything ready to submit just yet but i wanted to say i think it's great you've got a contest for WIPs. Maybe I'll be ready by the next one!

  8. Peter, if memory serves (as experienced with other 'do's on Authoress;s site) A. will email you to give you a 'post number'.


  9. Am I correct that the words may come from anywhere in the manuscript? With such a stress on openings, is it better to send that for feedback, even if it's only foreshadowing the tension to come?

  10. For all who have just now discovered this post: Submissions are now closed.

    Theresa, for future reference: "Drop the Needle" is specifically NOT for first pages. It's an opportunity to get some critique on a small section of your work that fits whatever theme I come up with (this week's theme is danger).

    So "foreshadowing", in this instance, wouldn't work. =)

  11. Wow! That did go quick - but it was still helpful even though I didn't make it in time. In looking for my "danger" passage I realized how hard it was to find one without a ton of dialog. Perhaps this is because I have too much dialog. ;)