Quarterly Critique Chat Guidelines

Prismatic 3D Question MarkIf you are interested in an on the fly critique from the entire Writers Chat Room this is your Quarterly Opportunity.

Follow the guidelines exactly. Submissions that do not follow the guidelines will be rejected.


Email sally@writerschatroom.com 150 – 300 words from your work. Paste your submission into the email, do not send an attachment. Do not hit reply!

Use the subject line “Submission: Critique Chat February 2018”.

Copy this list and put it at the beginning of the email, with your answers:

Format: (short story, novel, cover blurb, query, proposal… ):
Section: (beginning, middle or end of piece or the entire thing)
Name you intend to publish under:
Name you use in the chatroom:

You can add one or two sentences to set the scene, if needed. But no more than two sentences.

Submissions must be received by 3 pm ET on Sunday, February 25th, 2018 to be eligible for chat.

Submissions following the guidelines will be used in the order they are received. This means you must be on time and the whole room needs to be focused.

Unless you are really stumped, submit your best work. Most of us are aiming for publication. To get there, we have to be able to handle honest critiques. We will not allow personal attacks, but problems in the writing will be openly discussed.

If you are not in attendance, your submission will be skipped. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to critique something if the author isn’t there to hear it.

Fiction, nonfiction, essay, query letter…it doesn’t matter. Try to get an entire scene into 300 words. Full scenes tend get better critiques.

Why only 300 words? More than that will scroll off the screen too quickly. People need to be able to read it, to give a good crit. 300 words is the maximum but if a blurb, bio, query, hook only needs 150 or fewer words to do the trick then don’t feel any pressure to pad your word count.

Please be on time for this chat. Crosstalk, including greetings, will be kept to a bare minimum. Make sure you have floated and enlarged your screen in chat, so you can keep up. Here we go…let’s see how many of you have learned to write well and follow submission guidelines.

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Formatting a Manuscript and Creating a Marketing Plan

Planning ball

This Topic appeared in Wednesday’s Newsletter

If you use Word and need to know how to correctly format your Manuscript, this is a great place to visit.

How to Format a Manuscript Using Microsoft Word

Knowing how to format your manuscript is an important issue. Your editor needs to be able to get in there and poke around. The person who is going to format your novel or book does not want to have any extra work as she does the final formatting to change your work into various e-files and print on demand.

Many of you will get instructions on formatting at least as soon as the ink dries on your contract.

Formatting a Manuscript and Creating a Marketing Plan

For Sunday’s Topic Chat I am using multiple websites for information. This is one of four links I’ll be using. To discover all of the links on the Topic, consider signing up for our Newsletter. The form appears at the end of this post.

How To Write A Book Marketing Plan In 13 Easy Steps

Almost all publishers will ask about your marketing plan, even the big publishing houses expect an author to engage in marketing.  Articles and short stories are exceptions because the newspaper and magazines come with subscribers baked in.

Promoting your book takes careful planning so you get the most out of your time and effort. And that’s why having a book marketing plan is an essential part of the process.


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Categories and Genres – A Sunday Topic Chat

Image of a bookstore with a red roofThe example below may seem a little harsh. Join us in the chat room Sunday 28 January and we’ll explore the topic.




If you sign up for our Newsletter you will begin receiving an email with bonus content you won’t find here on the site.  

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What’s the Difference Between Genre and Category?

Some people have genre identity crises that create confusion, just like in the real world. A writer might call their book a “fictionalized memoir,” for instance, because they’re riding between memoir and fiction. Another writer may have written women’s fiction, but the book is also a thriller and has hints of romance. These writers, and I’ve met them, are tempted to explain the ways their books defy or cross genres, but they shouldn’t. Publishing, after all, is not particularly progressive when it comes to futzing with their classification systems, and you’re not a rebel because you’re trying to be clever, or straddle three genres; you’re just an amateur.

Huffington Post


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Submitting Your Novel to Agents – A Topic Chat

When submitting to an agent or a publisher, there are several important items you must keep in mind—follow the agent’s submission guidelines, spell his or her name correctly, etc. But there are six basic elements you really need to focus on when crafting and submitting your query letter. Thankfully, we’ve gathered them here in one helpful checklist. Bookmark this list and reference it each and every time before you send out your queries to agents that represents fiction.

check list boxes with a red pencil

—Mollie Glick

Checklist: The 6 Essentials for Submitting Your Novel to Agents

Bonus Information about How to Find a Literary Agent for Your Book is contained in the Newsletter. If you have not subscribed to the newsletter, use the form below to find out what you’ve been missing.

The Newsletter generally posts to your email on Wednesdays and Saturdays

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What Is Literary Fiction (and What Sets It Apart)?

Join us on January 3rd for a Mini Topic

What Is Literary Fiction (and What Sets It Apart)?

literary fiction quote

We have talked about Short Story Writing and Creative Non-Fiction and now, to start off the New Year let’s talk about Literary Fiction. 

I have pulled some things out of a rather long article and hope to touch on all five areas regarding the things which set Literary Fiction apart from Genre Fiction. Some of the five points are obvious, others are a little hard to sum up and I am counting on you to help us through the topic.

What sets literary fiction apart from genre fiction?

  1. Literary Fiction Looks Different
  • The Covers are Different
  • Genre and Literary Novels Might Be Sold in Different Formats
  • The Titles are Different
  • You’ll Find Them in Different Sections of the Bookstore


  1. In Literary Fiction, Character Comes Before Plot
  • If writing a gripping plot is important in genre fiction, in literary fiction the plot can be less momentous, more subtle, less frenetically-paced, more beneath the surface. But it still needs to be there, as the literary agent Nathan Bransford points out…


  1. Literary Novels Are More “Meaningful”
  • As readers of fiction, we like to be entertained by the surface plot. But we also like a deeper experience, one in which the novel’s events “say” something about what it means to be a human and what it takes to get by in this world.


  1. In Literary Fiction, “Fine Writing” Is Essential
  • Both fans and publishers of literary fiction expect the writing itself to be excellent…
  • Not poetic, exactly (though it can be).
  • Not lush and sensual and vivid with imagery (though it can be).
  • Not “difficult” (though some literary novels don’t exactly make for great beach reading).
  • Instead, literary writers need a masterful way with words. Their voice can be simple or ornate, but the prose must always be rich and finely-crafted and a pleasure to read.


  1. In Literary Fiction, Anything Goes
  • You’re free to tackle any subject matter and any theme you choose, and to structure the story however you wish.

Join us on January 3rd for a mini-topic chat.

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What is in a Plotline?

Little decorative thanksgiving themed corn and squashesThis is a Generated Plotline

It contains a Main Character, 2nd Character, Setting, Situation, Theme and Character Action.

MC = A woman in her early thirties, who is very foolish.
2nd C = A woman in her sixties, who can be quite manipulative.
Setting = The story begins in a restaurant.
Situation = Someone is accused of theft.
Theme = It’s a story about pride.
Character Action = Your character sets out to change everyone’s opinion.

This particular plot line will be on our blog at wrtierschatroom.com/wp and at our Forum.

Click on this Plot Generator Page and Generate your own plot line. Or use the idea above and share it here. Scroll down till you see the reply/comment box.

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5 Tips for #NaNoWriMo I’ve Learned from My 464-Day Writing Streak – Sunday’s Topic Chat

5 Tips for #NaNoWriMo I’ve Learned from My 464-Day Writing Streak

Men Streaking National Novel Writing Month is like a marathon for writers. It’s designed to be hard, and designed to push you to write every day. That isn’t an easy thing. Like anyone training for a marathon, it helps to know how fast you can run a mile, and how long you can sustain that pace. The same is true for writing in NaNoWriMo.

My favorite tip –

3 Do not rewrite, do not delete

Trying to do so would be like trying to run a marathon in a tuxedo without breaking a sweat. There’s no point.

Join us on Sunday for a Topic Chat

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Prompts & Word Sprints

word sprintsIt is that NaNoWriMo time of year and I hope everyone will enjoy a ‘prompt’ chat.

You do not need to be a November Novel Writing Month Participant to join us.

We will do timed writings using a random prompt generator.

Guests may type their responses directly into the chatroom or use your favorite word processing program.  There won’t be time to edit or dilly-dally over grammar, content or spelling. Sharing is optional but I think it is much more fun for everyone to share.

These word sprints will awaken your muse. In NaNo, a word sprint gets a writer un-stuck. They often come in useful to motivate a participant just enough to reach his or her daily word count.

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Let’s Talk Horror

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Sunday’s Guest spot is on hold.

Instead we will present a Topic Chat on How to write a horror story: 6 terrific tips.

empty rocking chair in a dark roomIs Terror the same as Horror?

Mmm, well, not so much.

 ‘Terror’ describes a state of feeling. Oxford Dictionaries simply define it as ‘extreme fear’. To ‘terrorize’, means to use extreme fear to intimidate others. Horror, however, also suggests elements of disgust and surprise or shock. Thus the word ‘horror’ describes not only extreme fear but also revulsion and a sense of surprise and the unexpected.

The best horror stories share at least five elements in common:

  1. They explore ‘malevolent’ or ‘wicked’ characters, deeds or phenomena.
  2. They arouse feelings of fear, shock or disgust as well as the sense of the uncanny-
  3. Horror books convey intense emotion, mood, tone and environments.
  4. In horror the ghosts and werewolves are very, very real.
  5. Horror tends to deal with morbid situations, from repetitive cycles of violence to death-related uncanny scenarios.

How do you write a horror story or novel like Stephen King, Clive Barker or (looking further back in the genre’s history) Edgar Allan Poe? 

Come to Sunday’s Topic Chat and help us discuss the various aspects Horror and Terror and how to write them.


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Horror Month at The Writer’s Chatroom

tell tale heart

Welcome to Horror Month at The Writer’s Chatroom

Sunday’s Topic chat will let us view Horror and Horror Writing from the safety of The Writer’s Chatroom.

“It’s the dark basement where the only thing you can hear is the beating of your own heart.”

tell tale heart

The history of horror is long, dating back to the era of the Inquisitions.  Before delving into the History of Horror we need to define it. Trap it in some way, long enough to have a look at its scary parts. This is no easy task. Horror comes from within and without. Tangible and elusive. We all have fears, the things that keep us awake at night or the things in our dreams that awaken us at night. Some fears are rational others, such as the fear of things to the left of your body are not so rational.

In horror writing it is the writer’s job to frighten the reader. To bring out fears the reader may not even be aware exist.

“For the Horror Writer, the more real, the better. And the scarier. It’s the dark basement where the only thing you can hear is the beating of your own heart. That’s real horror. The kind of stuff that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, as if someone was standing inches behind you.

inquisitionBut writing horror isn’t so easy. With any type of fiction, it’s difficult to think of something that hasn’t already been done. With horror fiction, it’s especially true. Creepy basements, loud noises from the attic, hidden rooms, Indian burial grounds, old hotels, multiple personality disorder, etc.—it’s all been done before, and it’s all out there. These clichés shouldn’t restrain you, however. They’ve simply defined the space you’re working in. You know what’s there, now create your own story.”

Join us Sunday as we prepare for the arrival of our October Celebrity Guests, Loren Rhoads, Mary SanGiovanni, John Everson and our Quarterly Celebrity Guest Barb Drozdowich.

candy cornResources for Sunday’s chat include The Writers Digest, CM Humphries, 6 Things American Horror Story Can Teach Us About Writing, 5 Elements of a Good Horror Story, a list of phobias and other websites I found while following a trail of candy corn.


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