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Newbie Question about Contest Word Limits

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I am about to submit to a contest that has a “first 4000 words” limit. 4000 words takes me to the middle of a chapter and there is no easy way to find a natural cutoff point within the chapter (it’s all one scene).  Is it better to still submit somewhere close to the 4000 word limit, even if it leaves the story/chapter hanging, or is it better to end at the previous chapter, which ends at around 3200 words?  Thanks for any and all advice and thoughts!
#1 - May 29, 2019, 08:02 AM

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Is the wording the "first 400 words" or "up to 4000 words"? If the former, and the chapter is exciting near the mid-point, I might add the half chapter.

For my submissions (mostly only up to 1500 words), I've done both. The decision was based solely on where the story was pulling the reader forward best. And that's not always at a chapter's end.
#2 - May 29, 2019, 08:39 AM

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Alison, I would stop at a point that's either a cliff-hanger or a natural stopping point. For ex. If the end of Chap 1 is a great ending, I'd stop there.
Good luck! V.
#3 - May 29, 2019, 08:54 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

David, the rules are to enter “not more than the first 4000 words.” I’m thinking Vijaya’s advice to find the most natural stopping point short of 4000 words is the way to go.

#4 - May 29, 2019, 09:16 AM

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The key is to leave off where the reader will have a question in mind that they must get an answer to. That means they'll want to read more. But don't go over that word limit and never leave off in the middle of a sentence. (Not that you were thinking of doing so, just that others might read this too.)
#5 - May 29, 2019, 06:43 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

In the middle of a sentence?!! Debbie, do you think people could do that? :(
Then again, I did sub once a  picture book that had two fonts.... So I guess, anything is possible when you're highly stressed.

Good luck with your sub. And like the others have said, stop where it feels right, but don't go to much lower than the required words, ie don't stop at 2000.
#6 - May 29, 2019, 11:45 PM
MA in creative writing. Author of upper middle-grade novel and chocoholic and SCBWI member

Thanks to all for the comments, I took all the advice and decided to cut off at a chapter end, which took me  to about 3400 words. 
#7 - May 30, 2019, 07:26 AM

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In the middle of a sentence?!! Debbie, do you think people could do that? :(

I once heard an editor or agent mention it. My guess is some folks take the rule very literally. You require 1000 words, you get 1000 words. You never know.
#8 - May 30, 2019, 07:47 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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