Posted By John Poindexter

Another Guest written entry. Please enjoy their article on Creating A Strong Excerpt

 

By Writers Relief Staff on March 5, 2012


We’ve already discussed how publishing an excerpt from your book in a literary magazine can be a powerful marketing tool. It’s a great strategy to generate enthusiasm about your book among literary agents, editors, and prospective readers.

But where to start? How long should an excerpt be? Should authors pick a random chapter—or should they specially create a story or essay based on the novel? Before you panic, check out these tips to create a strong, buzz-worthy excerpt:

1. The first chapter of a somewhat literary or fully literary novel often works well as an excerpt for literary magazines. For other types of novels, the first chapter might make a great stand-alone piece if it’s a place of tension. But if your first chapter is fully devoted to setting the scene or introducing a character’s backstory, choose something else. (And consider revising your first chapter!)

2. There’s no rule that says you have to use the first chapter. An excerpt can be pulled from any portion of your book or memoir. Look for scenes that offer strong conflict, spirited action, or climactic tension. Slice-of-life moments or character sketches can also be great places to start. Keep it simple and compelling, and make sure you aren’t devoting precious space to long explanations of plot or backstory.

3. The excerpt doesn’t have to be cut word-for-word from your book. You can change it any way you want to fit the parameters for a short story. NOTE: Keep in mind that the short story/short prose market has its own rules. By keeping your excerpt under 3,500 words, you’ll open up the greatest number of markets available to publish the work.

4. You can also write a piece that’s not in your book but one that is based on it. You may draw from material that didn’t make it to the final cut or start from scratch and create a brand-new story—perhaps even a spin-off featuring a secondary character. Whatever the source, this piece should maintain the integrity of the characters and stay true to the overall theme of your novel (or memoir). The goal is to generate interest in the work that inspired it!


a stand alone

A Stand Alone (get it?)

5. Choose the right ending. Compelling doesn’t necessarily mean neat and tidy. As long as your excerpt finds some resolution, or a stopping point that hints at resolution, you’re fine.

 

Submission strategist Kriste says: “Many editors of literary journals do not like to consider book excerpts because excerpts that are not meant to stand alone can feel awkward and incomplete. However, if your excerpt can stand alone and feels more like a short story or character sketch or slice-of-life piece, then more markets will likely be open to publishing it as a short story.”

 

Writer’s Relief (est. 1994) is a highly recommended author submission service. Check out their free publishing leads, calls for submissions, and tips! This article was originally published at the following http://www.writersrelief.com/blog/2008/01/seduction-of-fake-poetry-contests/

 

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Hope your writing is coming along well. Summer will be here before long and I will be writing more on the novels, especially since I have given up the radio job.  I will have more free time now to write and maybe on more than just novels.

  

Leave a comment and let us know how you are doing. Don't be afraid to comment and tell us what you are up to these days, too.

 

Until next month,

John

 


 
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