Missoula's Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention

MisCon 33: Level Up!, May 24 - 27, 2019 Missoula, Montana

MisCon 33 Writers' Workshop

MisCon's Writers' Workshop is back again! Have your writing critiqued by professional authors, editors, and agents!

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. 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 words. (For more, see A Note About Word Count below).

We'll accept submissions until April 8, 2018.

This is an excellent opportunity to have your work read and analyzed by pros who not only know how to put words together but 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 8, 2018.

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 (the first 2500 will be critiqued).
    • Novel Excerpts: the beginning of your novel, not exceeding 2,500 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). Your synopsis (if a novel submission) should come after your manuscript. Cover letter, manuscript and synopsis in that order.
  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 pros' 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 (we usually have 2-3 sessions on Saturday and 2-3 on Sunday).

Submission Guidelines

  • We will accept manuscripts in .doc or .docx format (If unavailable, you may use .txt). Please, no PDFs.
  • Name your file with your last name and the title of your work as follows:
    • LastName_TITLE
  • All submissions must be in standard manuscript format. Here are two examples:
  • If you have additional questions about manuscript formatting, please .

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, if you are submitting part of a novel, you include a synopsis with your submission. While this does not count toward your total 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:

  • It's 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. 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, don't 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 characters' "character arcs:" how the main characters react in certain situations. Bring them to life on the pages of the synopsis even though you're not writing creatively.
  5. Keep focused on the plot: include what the main scenes will entail. It's 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 .