Golden Heart – Last Min Prep

November 28, 2007 at 9:40 am | Posted in Bria, contests, writing | 6 Comments
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UPDATED for 2010/11 HERE – things have changed, please check out the updated site! Thanks 🙂






This is my first year entering the Golden Heart and I had  A LOT of questions around the rules and guidelines for packaging my YA Fantasy.  I thought I’d share them and the answers I got from RomanceDivas, Wet Noodle Posse, and my RWA chapter.


1. Line count? Word on the street is your entry doesn’t have to be exactly 25 lines. Is this true?

Ok, I would love to add an extra line to every page and squeeze in to that last good hook before my page deadline, but the suggestion was to ignore this impulse. While the rules don’t state each page MUST follow the 25 lines guidelines, judges can often be, I believe the term was “Old School” about it. Avoid doing anything outside the standard formatting we’ve all come to know and love. If you need to brush up on formatting a page, check out our post: Gift Wrapping Your Baby

2. Do you need to include a query letter?

I’m not going to point fingers, but someone “reminded” me not to forget my query letter when sending in my entry. Talk about misinformation creating PANIC – no query letter is needed.

3. How long can/should my synopsis be?

Lots of differing opinions on this. Your synopsis can be UP TO 15 pages – but for every page you give to your synopsis, you take one from the 55 pages you have eligible to send in. I’d rather send more of my story.

The general consensus I received was to keep my synopsis between 3 and 5 pages.

Need help on your synopsis? Check out:

4.  Numbering your pages. This excerpt is from the RWA Golden Heart FAQ:

Golden Heart contest rules state, “The partial manuscript shall consist of consecutive pages beginning with page one, typed, and with at least the general body of the manuscript and synopsis double-spaced. The synopsis shall not be more than 15 pages. The total partial and synopsis shall not exceed 55 pages combined.”  Please number your synopsis 1 – (end of synopsis), and begin your numbering over with the partial. For example, your synopsis can be numbered pages 1 – 5, and then your partial would be 1 – 50.”

5. Does the cover page count as a page?

NO. No cover page is needed.

6. Do I have to use my real name?

Yes. In the first round, all contestants must use his/her real name. If you final, you may continue in the contest using your pen name.

7. Do I have to / Should I put my name on the entry?

I didn’t think to ask this question, but I’m glad someone else did!  I’ll admit to being surprised to the answer. The overwhelming answer was “no” – but someone gave a reason and that’s where my surprise came in. Rumor (more writing rumors) has it that occasionally judges perceive entries with names on them as having something to prove. Go figure.

8. What should I put in my header.

The title of your manuscript should be lined up on the left hand side and the page number should be lined up on the right hand side. The font and font size should be the same as the body of your work.

GOOD LUCK – and congratulations on seeing this through – that in itself is a huge accomplishment! -bria



Here is the checklist RWA has on its website.  Check it out before you mail it in:


  • Double space:
    Partial Manuscript
    Full Manuscript
  • Manuscript title in header on:
    Partial Manuscript
    Full Manuscript
  • Page numbers in header on:
    Partial Manuscript
    Full Manuscript
  • Six copies of : 
    Partial Manuscript 
  • One copy of: 
    Full Manuscript on either floppy disk or CD (preferable) 
    or printed out
  • Each synopsis is placed in front of a partial manuscript and bound together by binder clip (preferable) or rubber bands
  • No personal information in header other than name (name is optional) on any materials.
  • Materials must be received in the RWA office by 5 p.m. Central Time on December 3, 2007.




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  1. Need synopsis help? Kathy Carmichael has some great, straightforward tips on her web site. Good luck, everyone!

  2. I second the suggestion of Kathy Carmichael for synopsis help! Back at the Denver National Conference, I assisted at her Synopsis Session (as a runner, not a speaker) and learned a tremendous amount. Synopses no longer scare me…in fact, I’m weird enough to think they’re kind of fun.

    By the way, hello to everyone! I’m new here, having been told of this fun and informative blog by Bria…

  3. Welcome, Tina! We’re so happy to have you stop by. I’m used to seeing you on the Buzz Blog and am excited that you’ve joined us. We look forward to seeing more of you!
    PS – I was glad that Karla won the book giveaway over at YA Fresh. She was most deserving!

  4. Thanks Ladies! Glad to see you both here – I’m going to have to struggle through my synopsis almost solo this time since all my “experts” are potential judges too!

    Off to ‘synopsize’ now 🙂

  5. Thanks, Jessica…I thought Karla was the clear choice, too, and I appreciate you visiting both of those blogs!

    And Bria, good luck with the synopsis!

  6. Thank you for posting this advice. I plan to enter the GH this year, and this is helpful.

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