Deborah Anderson

Deborah Anderson has written for Focus on the Family, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and numerous other publications. She is a member of SCBWI, TWV, ACFW, CWG, and FCW. Married 30 years, Deborah and her husband enjoy country living in the Midwest. She also spends her time rescuing cats, reading novels, and taking nature walks. Deborah recently completed a supernatural suspense novel. You can contact Deborah at: Visit her at

Diary of A Crazy Writer

Master the Craft

Have you ever wondered why editors, agents, and publishers say no to your manuscript?

Well, if you’ve never judged a writing contest before, I suggest you do so. This will give you vast insight as to how they arrive at their decisions.

Over the past eight years, I’ve heard other writers voice their opinions as to how some of the novels these days shouldn’t be published. Since I’d read some of the same books they were referring to, I sort of agreed, until I judged a few contests.

In the beginning, I eagerly pored over each submission. As I read on, though, my eagerness advanced to frustration. Oh no, not another one.

Don’t get me wrong. The authors’ manuscripts weren’t poorly written, but after seeing the same storyline over and over and over again, I became bored.

In fact, the way I just wrote “over and over and over again” is enough to bore anyone, isn’t it?


Then I came across a different batch of submissions. Some of them looked like they’d been through a hedge trimmer. The periods, commas, and quotation marks had been whacked plumb off the sentences. The words sat huddled together, with no paragraph breaks, looking as though they’d tried to escape the attack.

I arrived at the point where I just wanted a good story, something well written with a unique slant and a fresh voice.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

If it does, don’t feel alone. Many writers have done this. I know I certainly have.

Because I have no shame, I’m going to show you a small portion of my first fiction submission. Although I’d written nonfiction articles before, even published a few, I’d never penned a novel, let alone a synopsis.

Here’s the first line of the prologue (which I later discovered wasn’t a prologue at all). I altered the characters’ names, but everything else is in its original format.

A young woman from a Christian family fights to keep her faith and virginity.

Uh, reads like a wannabe one-sentence summary to me.

Moving on:

Lulu Lowenbrau is a teenager who has been dating Joey Javanese for over nine months. Every time they kiss their sexual desires peak.

Wow, I think this is perfect for the CBA, don’t you? Not only that, how often have you seen teenagers kiss their sexual desires peak? Does such a thing even exist?

I don’t think so.


Now for the conflict, (drumroll, please).

Tensions mount. They tease Lulu ruthlessly at their weekly card games.

Wow, I’m on the edge of my seat. Does it make you want to read more?


The next two:

Lulu’s friends are three young women who do not profess themselves to be Christians and are sexually active. They believe in God, but find religion too difficult to walk in.

I can’t even comment on this one. Seriously.

Last, and because I can’t take much more, here is the final line:

Lulu’s choices bring her before crossroads of ridicule, heartache, and frustration.

Why do I suddenly feel naked?

At least you probably feel better now, don’t you?

We all have to study to master this craft, to show ourselves approved. If we do, and apply the proper techniques, an editor, agent, or publisher might take notice.


Chicken Soup For The Soul: The gift of Christmas