Before You Submit: Scene Opening and Closing

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. The series contains hints and tips I’ve learned from professionals in the publishing industry that I’d like to share.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

This week I’ll write about how to start and end scenes throughout a novel without being monotonous.

Sometimes it’s easy to get into a habit and open or close scenes in the same manner.

A dramatic line of dialogue is a great way to hook the reader and keep them reading. But what if you do this every scene? The dramatic tension will decrease. The same goes for other ways to start a scene.

Here are your options for opening and closing a scene.

  1. Dialogue
  2. Narrative
  3. Action
  4. Thought

When you are reviewing your manuscript prior to submitting, make a list of how you enter and exit scenes. I do this in excel so I can graph how many scenes start or finish in each way. The result gives me an idea of whether I’ve used one technique to often or not.

Entering and exiting scenes in a balanced and thought out approach will make your writing more interesting and keep the dramatic tension flowing.

If you have any tips on entering and exiting scenes, please share.

Thanks for reading . . .

Leaving a job? How To Get a Dream Reference Letter

When leaving a job on good terms, you’ll want a reference letter in hand. Ask your employer for a letter. If they agree, offer to write a draft for them.

While working as the Director of Human Resources for five and half years, I was asked regularly for a reference letter.  From an employer’s point of view, I found it easiest when the employee prepared a draft letter for me.

In a busy job, with my own deadlines, I found it difficult to make time to write a reference letter from scratch. That meant I had to look up employment dates and main job responsibilities, and I had to think of the person’s best characteristics. All easy to do,but time consuming.

Employees were sometimes shy about writing the letter, maybe thinking it was presumptuous, but what it really is, is helpful.

But what do you put in your letter?

  • Job title
  • Start and end dates
  • Main job responsibilities
  • Qualifications required and held for position
  • What you were good at. This is important. Don’t be shy about saying what you did well.

End the letter with some form of the following sentence: Given the opportunity, I would happily rehire – insert your name here.

The last sentence means the company was pleased with your work and is code within the HR circles that the reference is good.

Next, print two copies with room for a signature. Put one copy on a storage device. Present both to your employer. Thank them for giving you a reference, and state that you have prepared a draft for them as a starting point.

In many cases, I signed the letters as they were presented to me. In some cases, I felt the person under sold themselves and added a few things, and only rarely did I think the person went overboard and I took a few things out.

I hope this helps you get the reference letter you need.

Thanks for reading . . .