2022 Scintillating Starts Opportunity
Openings matter. They determine whether a potential agent will represent your book or move on.
Writer Advice’s Scintillating Starts Opportunity is your chance to show how effectively you can grab and hold your readers and get feedback on what is and is not working in your opening. Fiction, memoir, and creative nonfiction are all eligible. You do not have to have completed your book to enter.
Why not get an objective opinion?
Send us up to 1250 words of your first chapter by 12/02/22. We are known for our feedback, as you can see in the comments at the bottom of the Manuscript Consultation Page or below and would love to tell you what’s working and what an agent might say.
How This Works:
Fee: $16.50 for manuscript opening/query of 1250 words or less. The money helps defray the costs of awarding the top entries some money. A cash award of $300 will be split among those whose work is shared on our website–usually 2 or 3 writers.
If your work is shared on Writer Advice, you’ll be able to tell prospective agents, publishers, and book buyers that you were one of the winners of Writer Advice’s Scintillating Starts Contest. We may also list the titles and authors of Honorable Mentions, who can also list this as an honor when they send their queries.
The whole purpose of Scintillating Starts is to get feedback before you send your work to an agent. We are not a literary agency but know what agents are looking for. Why not get some suggestions before you send to agents?
This contest is open to anyone who has not signed a contract for the book submitted. That means your book does not have to be completed, though it should be before you submit it elsewhere.
The SUBMITTABLE LINK is at the bottom of the page.
Tips for Success:
1. Start your novel or memoir in a place where high stakes exist. If your first 1250 words are all about the setting, this may not be the right opportunity for you. Please send the start!
2. Let readers care.
3. Give us a flawed hero we’ll empathize with.
4. Give us a reason to keep reading.
5. Leave out details that don’t help you tell this story.
6. Know why your story is unique. (If you don’t know, ask your characters.)
7. We had an excellent piece in the last contest that did not win an award because it was too long. The length matters! Following directions matters.
8. We prefer double-spaced manuscripts with standard, one-inch margins.
9. We prefer an easy-to-read font.
10. Please use the Submittable box below. Manuscripts sent in other ways will not be read.
Questions? Please write back using the contact form on Writer Advice.
COMMENTS FROM PREVIOUS CONTESTANTS:
“Thank you for your great advice. I appreciate it and will use it to improve my writing.” –Shelley Malicote
“Your suggestions for improvement rock.” –Shelley Stutchman
“WriterAdvice.com is one of my all-time most reliable and accessible sites for writers. I use it—and recommend it to my clients.” ~Carolyn Howard-Johnson, multi award-winning author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers (http://howtodoitfrugally.com), poetry and fiction
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told about the great feedback you give to folks no matter how many entries you get.” –Bill Buschel
“It’s such a refreshing experience to have some exchange — as most submissions disappear into the either like rogue satellites.” –Charles Watts
“Your insights are excellent” –Dan Dubelman
“You are the first professional to offer feedback and your encouraging words have given me additional motivation! It is reassuring to know that I was on the right track; you have a remarkable ability to give constructive feedback in a positive way (and you are absolutely correct). I look forward to submitting more stories and continuing to improve.” –Jamie Fouty
“I learned about this contest from the Submittable page. I then checked out your website and felt comfortable submitting my story as you seem like someone who genuinely wants to help and advise others.” –Roger Yetzer
“I’m always striving to improve my writing, and feedback from editors like you make it much easier to do so.” –Margarite R. Stever
“Many thanks for your response, from it, I can tell you’re very good at what you do.” –Kisa, Visually Versed
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to read and analyze my work . . . It’s not every day a contest gives you comprehensive feedback instead of a simple yes/no!” –Lena Crown
“Thanks for the wonderful feedback, never, never, got that before in thirty years.” –Jenny Hickinbotham