MisCon 25 Writer's Workshop
Join us at this year's MisCon Writer's Workshop! Send us a piece of your writing, following our guidelines, and we will forward it to a group of professional fantasy and science fiction writers. Then come to MisCon 25 and have your stuff critiqued. It's an excellent opportunity to have your work read and analyzed by pros who know how the business works (as well as how to put words together).
Your manuscript can be a short story, the beginning of a novel, or an unfinished story fragment, as long as it fits the 4,000 word limit. If you follow our Submission Guidelines, this means 16 pages or less. Please follow our Guidelines closely, as this is great practice for submitting to agents and editors.
Note: participation may be limited this year due to high demand, so the MisCon 25 workshop will likely be a first-come-first-served sort of event.
Manuscript submissions must be received on or before April 16th, 2011.
What to do:
- Prepare a manuscript of no more than 4,000 words according to our Guidelines (see below).
- Send us a quick email at email@example.com stating that you have submitted to the workshop. Make sure to include your contact information as well as a digital copy of your submission in .rtf format. We want a digital copy of your manuscript only to make it easier to print the anthology. We will either return the digital copy to you or destroy it after the anthology is printed (whatever you wish). You can also send us a digital copy on disc with your submission packet if you like. If you don't want to send such a thing in any form, let us know and we will exclude your submission from the anthology (you will still participate in the workshop, of course).
- Assemble a submission packet including $15 to cover our postage and 3 copies of your manuscript, each with a cover letter addressed to 'Critiquing Author.' Also include a hard disk copy of your manuscript if you chose not to email it. If your submission is a novel excerpt, you may include a brief synopsis of the story as well (see below).
- Mail your submission packet to MisCon, PO Box 7721, Missoula, MT 59807. (It is also a good idea to complete a registration form and pre-register at this time).
- Attend MisCon and participate in the Writer's Workshop on Saturday May 28th, 2011 from 11:00am to 2:00pm.
From 5:00pm to 6:00pm on Friday May 27th, the first day of MisCon, we will have an Orientation/Writer's Workshop Meet and Greet. This optional event is open to anyone interested in writing or the workshop, and will outline how the process works, as well as introduce MisCon's aspiring writers to each other and the critiquing authors.
On Sunday May 29th, the day after the Workshop, we will have a 1-hour wrap-up panel without the critiquing authors. During this time, participating writers can critique each others' work and discuss the comments made by the professionals.
I also recommend pre-registering for both MisCon and (the workshop) some time before the convention--that way, you'll avoid the long registration line, and you'll know you're signed up for the workshop.
Feel free to email us at ops (at) miscon.org at any time to learn more or just to chat.
- We follow "standard" manuscript format as seen in Vonda Mcintyre’s article at www.sfwa.org. Read her article and format your manuscript exactly like hers. There are many small differences in manuscript formats, but this one is a nice general format you can use with any publisher. The only difference is that here, you should omit her type of cover page (since we have you doing one our way).
- At RadCon 5a, Tor editor Beth Meacham said this is the definitive manuscript format she likes to see in submissions. Since Tor is the giant in publishing science fiction and fantasy, her opinion is good enough for us.
- A few tips about formatting:
- Begin page numbering and your header on page 2, not page 1.
- Use a monospaced font like Courier to make sure your word count is accurate. Professionals can tell immediately if you use a font you like better (like Times New Roman) and may discard your submission. Make sure you use a font size of 12, and never mess around with margins or spacing. Double space only.
- First, ignore your word processor's "word count" feature. This counts words, not how much space a manuscript takes up in a publication. The amount of space a manuscript takes up is what matters to publishers, not how many specific words you used. If you format your manuscript according to our Guidelines, it will have about 250 words per page. Since a publisher needs to know how much space a story will take up, you need to include all blank space on a page as well as your writing. So. Once your manuscript is properly formatted, take your page count and multiply it by 250. This is your total word count.
- For the MisCon Writer's Workshop, you may not exceed the 4,000 word limit. This means 16 pages or less. Please adhere to this, especially since this year we will delete anything beyond the 16 page limit. In the case of our workshop, it doesn't matter if your story is complete, only that the critiquing authors have a chance to examine a substantial amount of your writing so they can help you improve it. The synopsis and cover letter do NOT count toward this word count.
- Also remember that if you submit something to a professional literary agency or publishing house and exceed word limits, your writing will not be considered at all. Instead it will probably hit the trash without being read . . .
- In our case, we will just chop it down a bit so it fits our limits. As a side note, we only limit things to 4,000 words because we don't want to ask too much of our critiquing authors. Believe it or not, these kind people have lives outside MisCon and only so much to devote to helping us out.
- Similar to a query letter a writer sends to an editor or agent, the cover letter should include a short paragraph about you and a paragraph about your project. Don't go overboard with this, just introduce who you are and what you are submitting. Let your writing speak for itself.
- While the cover letter isn’t necessary, it helps give the critiquing author an idea of who you are and what your stuff is all about, as well as some experience in writing professional cover letters. It can be as small as a few sentences, if you like (don't stress out about it), or as large as a few paragraphs.
- The MisCon Writer's Workshop Anthology is a yearly compilation of all the writing submitted to us. We sell it at the Con so our attendees can have a chance to read your stuff. That said, we do NOT retain any rights in any form to your writing. YOU retain all rights to your work. Note that all workshop participants receive a free hardcopy of the anthology, so please avoid paying for one on the registration form unless you want an extra copy.
- If you submit a novel excerpt, you may choose to include a brief synopsis of the story. The point of the synopsis is to give a critiquing author, literary agent, or editor an idea of where the story is going beyond your submission. This is also a great exercise for any aspiring writer, since you will have to write one as soon as you are ready to submit to an agent or editor.
- This does not count toward the total word count of your manuscript. It will not be included in the Anthology either, but will be given to the Critiquing Authors. Take a look at John E. Stith's example on the SFWA website. Just skip down to the green "Synopsis" heading to see how he does it. There are many options out there, so look around to find something which works for you. We tend to follow SFWA's lead, which is safe if you want to publish fantasy or science fiction.
Free Line Edit "Prize"
- Editor Andrea Howe, of Blue Falcon Editing, has offered to professionally line edit one manuscript of her choosing. Last year she selected a novel excerpt by Kendra Lisum.
- While the MisCon Writer's Workshop is not a contest in any way, Andrea can't possibly offer this special service to every participant. So, one lucky participant will get their manuscript line edited as a special treat this year. Feel free to email me for more information as to how Andrea will choose the manuscript she wants to edit.
- We recommend that you read through a great online interview with her here (she talks about editing and the publishing business in general).
- We cannot guarantee which critiquing authors will critique which manuscripts. This is usually something we determine once we have received all manuscripts just before MisCon. Our goal is to have each manuscript critiqued by at least 3 authors, although when we receive a huge amount of submissions, we are forced to break up the participants into smaller groups, and spread the authors around. Be aware that you may have your manuscript critiqued by as few as 2 attending professionals, and as many as 4. For the MisCon 24 Writer's Workshop, we had 11 writers critiquing 24 manuscripts. We broke the submissions up into 4 critique groups.
- Critiquing Authors (and Editor) for MisCon 25 include: Andrea Howe, Carol Berg, Patricia Briggs, Maggie Bonham, C. J. Cherryh, Jane Fancher, Jim Glass, M. J. Engh, Vickie Mitchel, Kevin Noel Olson, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, and others. More may be included as MisCon approaches, so please either keep checking back, or email me.
- Duotrope, a great resource for writing markets--check it out to find markets who may buy your writing.
- OWW, the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. This site has the best resources page online!
- SFWA The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's official web site. The writing resources section here is a great source of information on all writing topics.
- Strunk and White The Elements of Style
- Manuscript Preparation by Vonda N. McIntyre
- Jim Butcher's Blog. The author of the amazing Dresden Files, Jim talks about the craft of writing.
- The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. A great book on, well, the art of fiction!
- Writer John Dalmas talking about writing. John knows what he is talking about, so read this.
- Orson Scott Card has an excellent book on writing science fiction and fantasy.
- Writer Jay Lake's blog post about story length. Also check out some of his short stories if you want to see how it's done by a master.
- The Critters Workshop, an online workshop dedicated to critiquing manuscripts.
Again, if you have any questions or just want to talk about writing, feel free to email Justin at ops (at) miscon.org. You can also post threads on our online Forum.