Persist and Publish

Breaking into the Publishing World letter by letter.

Persist and Publish

This group is for writers who are working on novels, have an understanding of the basic concepts of fiction writing and who want to give and receive honest and detailed feedback. If you are a member of WVU and interested in joining the group, please contact Enza at:

If you are an agent and have changes to the agent listing, or have a general question about the website, please email Kathy at:

Who we are

Welcome to the Persist and Publish (P&P) study group at Writer's Village University (WVU). This group is for novel writers. To join, you must have already started writing a novel. Short stories may be posted here since many novelists also write short stories and since many of the skills required to write a short story also go into the writing of novels. Our members have been published in:  The Mississippi Review, Rosebud, Apollo's Lyre, Flashshot as well as won many prizes.  We assume that you are a serious writer aiming for commercial publication. If you are interested in joining our group, please email Kathy at Thank you for your interest! The P&P Study Group

P&P Recommended by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb!

Your First Novel: A Published Author And a Top Agent Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream

In the book Your First Novel by agent Ann Rittenberg and writer Laura Whitcomb, P&P's website is recommended as a great resource for novelists. 

"Persist and Publish ( A self-described 'study groupof novelists who are committed to getting published,' this site offers a wealth of helpful information, such as articles on 'Etiquette in Contacting Agents' and 'The Steps in Finding an Agent,' as well as links to articles on writing cover letters and synopses. An excellent and frequently updated resource."

Purchase it at:

Group Guidelines

To keep our group vibrant, the facilitators adopted the following rules:

1. CARDINAL RULE 1: You should be working on a novel. Short stories may be posted on our board since many novelists also write short stories, since many of the skills required to write a short story also go into the writing of novels, and since publication of short stories can help with credits when you are seeking representation/publication of your novel. We assume that you are a serious writer aiming for commercial publication, and expect to see postings relative to novel work periodically.

NUMBER OF WEEKLY POSTS: Posts of writing are limited to one per week. It doesn't matter if it is a scene, a rewrite of something already written, a short story or an exercise. A post is a post. Exception to this is on the week we have prompts. We will be scheduling monthly prompt (one week in four). All members are encouraged to participate in organizing the prompts. Maximum length for prompts is 500. Feedback on these is voluntary and limited to general comment. These are not expected to be polished because of the one-day turn around.

DEADLINES: The week's post must be done between Monday and Thursday or you lose the right to post for the week. This provides one day for feedback catch up (Friday) and the weekend between the weekly post. Exception will be made for special circumstances.

4. WORD COUNT: During exercise weeks, you may do the exercises or post something of equal length to the maximum word count allowed by the exercise. . In non-exercise weeks, maximum word count is 2000. (It will be 1,500 during the week of Christmas and New Years.)

5. FEEDBACK: Everyone will give three feedbacks per week (except for weeks a member chooses to take a week off .) The member may not post a scene, etc. in any week without doing feedback. In order to ensure that everyone receives three feedbacks, pick a different person to give it to if you see someone already has five responses. Otherwise, the late posters end up with nothing.  We may call on you from time to time to do more when the early posters get all the feedback and everyone has completed their requirements before the last poster weighs in.  You certainly can do more than three, but it is not expected.  Writing time is precious.  Protect it.

6. NO THANK YOUS. There will be no individual thank you messages, but you may exchange opinions or ask questions of each other. We want to protect your time for writing.

7. DISCUSSION: There are no limits on discussion of craft or related writing issues.


In the future, leaves will be granted for six weeks only with the possibility of one extension. After six weeks, people on leave need to check in. If we don't hear from them, then we assume that they're no longer in the group, although they can reapply.

If you are not on approved leave, be advised that these are the minimum participation requirements to keep your spot. These are:

1) Unless you are out of town or have an emergency, you must check in with the board, either by giving one feedback, participating in a discussion, doing a prompt or a weekly progress report. Failure to do this could result in your being dropped from membership.

2) You must post from your WIP at least once a month even if you don‘t want feedback, and you must give feedback as required by the rules that week.

9. EXERCISE AND PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: Anyone may develop exercises and propose special projects. Consult the facilitators if there is something you feel would benefit the group.

10. CARDINAL RULE 2 RESPECT: Everyone will treat everyone else with respect. Differences will be settled by following the agreed upon procedure.

The WVU policy for study groups will be followed. It is:
The WVU freedom of speech policy for study group members:

freedom to grow as writers
freedom from personal attacks
freedom to have a good time.

This is the procedure to be followed by any member who has a problem with a post by another member. We post this with the caveat that no one should object to the content of another person's post. Disagreeing with the religious slant taken in a novel or with eroticism in an article or with any belief expressed in a novel is not a legitimate source for complaint. Simply stop reading if you object to content or if it makes you uncomfortable and don't comment on the writing since you will not have read it. If however, you feel you are belittled or you have any problems with the way you are treated by another person, these are the steps we recommend you follow to maintain the health of the group.

1. Contact the person privately by e-mail. If that doesn't work,

2. Contact the group leaders. If that doesn't resolve the problem,

3. Contact the study group coordinator

4. If the problem continues, by all means feel free to raise the issue politely without name calling on the board.

11. GROUP OWNERSHIP: Although we have facilitators, this room belongs to all of us. Everyone has an equal right to input into how the group operates.

This study group belongs to all of its members. The operating rules and guidelines are established by mutual consent to make the room work smoothly. We are setting this up in such a way that all members assume ownership of the group for as long as they are members. Everyone is expected to participate in coming up with ideas for readings and exercises. We can establish some parameters for exercises as we go along and as they are needed.

The emphasis of this group will be on craft and on helping each other problem solve when we are stuck or unsure about something. Therefore, we propose that there be regular exercises aimed at furthering our novels and making them the best that they can be. But we also would like people to be free to post scenes periodically.

Because writing time is so precious, we propose that people not write thank you messages to every feedback.

Exercises can usually be done in 500 to 1000 words. Scenes from novels may require more. We are proposing a 2,000 word limit as a starting point. If we get too many members we may have to lower it. We do not believe, however, that the success of a study group is the same as size of a study group. We will not be beating the drums for members initially. We would rather concentrate on quality. Please let us know if you have different thoughts on a 2000 word post limit or guideline.

The deadline for posting is
Thursday. That means the week's post must be done between Monday and Thursday or you lose the right to post for the week. We are doing this in order to make it easier for everyone to get their feedback in before we move on to the next week. This will allow one day for feedback catch up. Exception will be made for special circumstances. This is a proposed plan of operation. If you have problems with it or different ideas, please post your questions or comments to the board, preferably under this thread so all thoughts are together.


Below are some suggestions for information to provide when posting and a checklist to keep in mind when reading the scenes or part of the scenes posted by others even though you will not be able to comment on everything:


Main characters in the scene:
Where the scene falls in the novel:
Purpose of the scene:



Does the first line command attention and make it clear that we’re in the middle of a story?

Does it set the tone for the novel?

Does each scene end with a hook or something that makes the reader want to turn the page.


Does every scene contain an element of conflict? In every scene, do we have a POV character who wants something, and someone who, for positive or negative reasons, opposes that desire?

Is there enough conflict?

Is it expressed through action, dialogue, attitudes, or values?

Are the characters problems too abstract, remote, trivial, ordinary, easily overcome and/or happening to someone for whom we feel little?

Is the conflict complex?

Are the problems too easy to solve?

Were you able to identify the conflict?

Has something changed as a result of the conflict?


Is there a clear protagonist with internal as well as external conflict?

Is the protagonist both sympathetic and proactive?

Are other characters not all good or all bad?

Were the characters sufficiently contrasted?

Did you get the chance to interpret what the characters were feeling or did the author just tell you directly?

Did the words from the mouths of the people in the story seem consistent with their personalities?

Did the people seem real or were the main characters stereotypes or one-dimensional cardboard characters?

Were you able to sense the conflict, attitudes, motivations and intentions of each character?

Were the relationship between characters clear?

Did the writer use emotional filtering to show the emotions of the characters?

What picture do you have of the character?

Are the characters likable, sympathetic, unlikable, ho hum?

Do the character names work?


Is it specific to each character?

Balanced with narrative?

Does the author avoid excessive dialogue tags, adverbs and repetitions of character names?

Was there too much or not enough dialogue, in your opinion?
Did the dialogue seem real?

Does the dialogue seem too much like normal speech, with too many incomplete sentences, pauses, restarts, profanity, cliches, etc. that it was distracting?

Did the author use dialect that was too heavy, making it difficult to read?

Does each character have their own speech rhythm, accent (if necessary), vocabulary, and even length of sentences?

In an exchange of conversation, can you easily tell who is speaking if you didn't have their names or gender attached to their sentences?

Does the dialogue convey the feelings of the characters?

Were you aware of where the characters were and what they were doing as they spoke?

Were you confused about what was speech and what was the character’s thoughts?

Do the character engage in dialogue or does one character give long speeches?

Is the dialogue misused to drop in backstory?


Did each section stay in one character's point of view or did it jump around, causing confusion?

Does the author give each POV character a distinctive voice, so that the POV characters don’t all sound the same?

If singular POV, does author make it clear we’re in the character’s head, not dealing with author intrusion?


Does the writing style of this book make it clear that only the author could have written it?

Is there a clear, unique narrator’s voice?

Did the writer show instead of tell?

Did the writing appeal to the senses?

Was the writing clear?

Is there too much or too little narrative or is it just right?

Was the vocabulary suitable to the time, setting and characters?

Are passive verbs avoided where possible?

Does the tone fit the story?


Were you aware of the place and time in which the scene takes place?

Was description natural; was it in the right place or did it disrupt the story?

Was there too much description or too little?

Are the descriptions woven into the action and dialogue, so that they don’t stop the story? Do they provide a sense of place without detracting from the protagonist and the story question?

Are there large blocks of description?


Does the scene advance the plot?

Is there too much back story?

Is any back story used essential for the reader to know at this point in the story?

What is the pace of the scene?

Are the scenes clean, without paraphrasing?

Are the sequels short and in strong POV?

Do the characters drive the plot and not the other way around?

Is there action in every scene?

Does the action in one scene suggest the action in the next?


Is the scene really a scene, i.e. does it have all the ingredients required for a scene--change, one setting, conflict, moves the story forward, advances the reader’s understanding of characters?

Does each scene further the action, not just provide insight into the characters’ motives, personality or relationships with others?

Is the scene necessary to the story?


Is the pace of the scene appropriate for the event of the scene?

Does each scene start close to the action of the scene or does the writer wriote her way into the scene?

Are the sentence and paragraph lengths appropriate to the pace on the action?

Who is Alabama Worley?


Alabama Worley (Patricia Arquette) was the wife of Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) in the movie True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott.  This movie is a romance, an action movie, a gangster movie and a comedy all rolled up into one!  Alabama is my favorite character of any movie, and thus why I named our group website “Alabamaworley”.  I didn’t realize that our web site might attract the attention of other writers, no less Ann Rittenberg, the highly regarded agent who added us as a resource to her book, “Writing Your First Novel”.


Freewebs doesn’t allow users to change the name once it’s picked, and now we have our web site out there, so Alabamaworley it remains!


"...and I feel really goofy saying this after only knowing you one night, and me being a call girl and all, but I think I love you."


 -- Alabama Worley