MisCon 31 Writers' Workshop

MisCon's Writers' Workshop is lucky to receive submissions from all levels of writers, from beginners to intermediate and advanced. Our workshop has evolved to better support this diversity. The workshop will include two sessions: a general workshop and an advanced workshop.

We're asking for your best work. We'll accept both short stories and the beginnings of novels. Submissions may be up to 7,500 words, but please note: we will place a line of demarcation at 2,500 words for the Advanced Workshop, and 750 words for the Regular Workshop. The pros who critique your work will read up to that line. If they choose to read more, they may, but you will only receive criticism on the first 2,500 or 750 words, respectively. (For more, see A Note About Word Count below).

We'll accept submissions until April 9, 2017.

We will read your submission and determine, based on mechanics, story-telling, and flow (among other things), which workshop would be of the most benefit to you. If you're placed in the General Writers' Workshop, your submission will be marked at 750 words (approximately 3 pages) and given to one or more of our attending professionals for critique. On the day of the workshop, participants will attend a workshop designed to address consistent problems seen throughout all of the manuscripts. This may focus on mechanics, the bare bones of story, plot, theme, etc, although you will still receive a personal critique on your 750-word submission. At the end, you'll also receive a list of resources to better enable you to qualify for the Advanced session next year.

If you're placed in the Advanced Writers' Workshop, your submission will be marked at 2,500 words (approximately 10 pages) and passed along to one or more attending professionals for critique. On the day of the workshop, you will meet with the pros to receive critique tailored to your piece. This workshop will focus on higher-level criticism, including what makes a story work, as well as what will make your piece more marketable.

This is an excellent opportunity to have your work read and analyzed by pros who not only know how to put words together but also the business side of things as well.

Note: participation may be limited this year due to high demand, so the workshop will be a first-come-first-served event. Manuscript submissions must be received on or before April 9, 2017.

What to Do

  1. Prepare a manuscript of no more than 7,500 words according to our guidelines below.
    • Short Stories: Please do not rewrite your story to fit the guidelines, send what you have, not exceeding 7,500 words
    • Novel Excerpts: the beginning of your novel, not exceeding 7,500 words
  2. Include your cover letter and synopsis in the same file as your manuscript. (Do not count them as part of your word count, however).
  3. Save it as a .doc or. docx file and email it to writers@miscon.org no later than April 9, 2017. Make sure to include your contact information (If you cannot save as a Microsoft Word file, a .txt file will be accepted.)
  4. If you do not wish to have your piece included in the private (for participants only) PDF file of all the manuscripts, please say so in your email.
    • The PDF will be seen by participants only. By reading your story ahead of time, the others in your group will benefit from the critique you receive by having context for the prosí suggestions.
  5. It's also a good idea to pre-register for MisCon at this time to make sure you can attend (in case we reach maximum attendance and close registration).
  6. Attend MisCon and participate in the Advanced Writers' Workshop or the Writers' Workshop on the pre-assigned day.

Submission Guidelines

General guidelines include:

  • 1-inch margins
  • Double-spaced
  • Font no smaller than 12-point size (Courier, Courier New, or Times New Roman are acceptable)
  • Use underlining instead of italics
  • Do not use boldface

The first page should include:

  • Author's name and address in upper left hand corner
  • Approximate word count in upper right corner
  • Story title and byline (start halfway down page)
  • Story starts double-spaced under byline

Each page after the first must include:

  • Story title (abbreviated if necessary)
  • Author's last name
  • Page number

A note about Word Count:

  • The amount of space a manuscript takes up is what matters to publishers, not the specific number of words used. If you format your manuscript according to our guidelines, it will have about 250 words per page. A publisher needs to know how much space a story will take up, which means that once your manuscript is properly formatted, you should take your page count and multiply it by 250. This is your total word count.
  • Reminder: Only 2,500 words will be critiqued if you're in the Advanced Workshop, and 750 words if you're in the Writers' Workshop (a line of demarcation will be added to your manuscript).

How to Write A Novel Synopsis

For MisCon's Writers' Workshop, we ask that you include a synopsis of your novel or short story with your submission. While this does not count toward your word count, you should still try to keep it to three to five pages. Here are some things to keep in mind when writing a synopsis:

First what a synopsis is not:

  • A pitch
  • Back cover copy
  • A sales letter
  • A chapter-by-chapter outline

Now what a synopsis is:

  • Itís what comes next
  • It's a simple telling of the basic story in simple narrative form.

Literary agent Carly Watters posted a helpful blog on the subject a few years ago. You can find it here. She recommends you write a one-page (about 250-word) and a three-page (up to about 1000-word) synopsis. Her advice is paraphrased below:

  1. A synopsis is a play-by-play account of the main plot of your novel, from beginning to end. Tell the story as simply and directly as possible. This is one of the instances where you should tell, donít show.
  2. Use the opening paragraph to set up the setting, premise, and other world building ideas.
  3. Focus on conflict: What are the road blocks? What hurdles does the main character have to overcome? How high are the stakes?
  4. Show the main charactersí "character arcs": how the main characters react in certain situations. Bring them to life on the pages of the synopsis even though youíre not writing creatively.
  5. Keep focused on the plot: include what the main scenes will entail. Itís hard to know how many details to include, but look at which chapters are the most important to understanding the story.

And remember, MisCon's Writers' Workshop is a great place to practice all aspects of the writing business, from receiving critique to interacting with professionals to writing synopses, so if you fall short on any one of these, don't take it too hard -- when we stumble, we learn!

If you have any questions .