Friday, 20 January 2017

RNA New Writers' Scheme Year 2
A year ago I was lucky enough to gain a place on the unique NWS after having heard so many positive things about it. The RNA only accepts 250 writers into the scheme and the hotly contested places are allocated on a first come, first served basis each year. Applications for 2017 scheme are now closed. For more information, please click HERE.
When I joined in January 2016, I'd finished my novel and was in the process of editing it to the best standard I could ready to submit it for my first ever full length critique. I'd been told to try to avoid the rush closer to the deadline of August 31st. Everything went according to plan and I submitted in May and received my reader's report back before the conference.

In that first year, I gained so much from my decision to join the scheme. A detailed and positive critique - thank you, dear Reader, whoever you are! - gave me the confidence and motivation to edit my novel still further. I am now in the process of trying to find an agent/publisher for that novel. I attended my first conference where I attended one-to-one sessions with editors and agents, one of whom was very generous with her time. I got to meet many other writers I only knew beforehand on social media.

And on to year two. Things are very different this year so I'm looking for advice. I've planned my new novel and written about 9000 words. My question is do I try to finish the complete manuscript by August 31st or do I do what I can by a certain date? If the latter, I would then concentrate on editing what I've written thoroughly and accompany it with a very detailed synopsis. Is an unfinished but polished submission better than a complete but unedited novel? 

I've searched back through some RNA archives and it would appear that there are advantages and disadvantages with either approach:
  • As long as the partial manuscript is accompanied by a really detailed synopsis, then the Reader should be able to see where the novel is going and what the story line is. Thorough editing should show what the quality of the writing will be like after redrafting and revising the finished novel. 
  • The completed novel, on the other hand, would show the reader the story in its entirety and show the novel's structure, pace and how effective the ending is. However, the critique may contain several points you know you'll pick up on when you start to revise and edit the first draft.
  • The shorter the partial, the harder it is for the Reader to give the help and advice they'd like. Here, the importance of the synopsis is greater.
I shall knuckle down and get as much of the novel written as I can and see how far I get. Making the decision is months away yet but I'd love to hear about your experiences. 
What do you think?
Have you submitted an incomplete novel for a critique? 
Did you find it helped you finish the first draft more easily?
Did you submit the same novel the following year?

Thank you for reading the blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

10 comments:

  1. Interesting question, Jan. I have submitted to the RNA and each time submitted a full MS. My advice would be to work on the basis that you want to submit a whole book and get stuck into the writing accordingly. Nearer the time, if it is clear you aren't going to finish before the deadline, that's the time to start on the synopsis of the unwritten part of the book. And if you have to choose between polishing the partial and working on the synopsis, I would put as much plot detail and character development into the synopsis as possible. That way, you'll give the fullest ending that you can in the circumstances and the reader will have the best possible reading experience. I hope this helps. It will be interesting to see what others think. But of course, it's all academic, isn't it, because naturally you are going to fly through your novel, aren't you?! Wishing you all the best xx

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    1. Thanks for your confidence and advice, Sue. I intend to do what you say and have plenty of time yet. I'm enjoying throwing myself back into the story and getting to know my characters again after a break.:-)

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  2. Excellent advice from Sue, but I would also add that perhaps it depends on what you need from the report. Although the last book I submitted to the NWS was complete, I hadn't polished it as much as the year before, because I was concerned about whether the plot and the character arcs worked. I didn't want to waste weeks editing it, if the basic structure of the book needed revision. So it's worth considering whether the reader needs to see a complete novel - or as much as you can manage - to advise on the aspects that would be most useful to you. Good luck with the writing! x

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    1. Thanks, Kate. More good advice. Your point about structure is particularly relevant for me. For my sins, this novel is another dual narrative. How to structure the two stories while still allowing each one to flow will be very important. Thank you for popping by to leave a comment. :-)

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  3. Hi, Jan. You will do what's right for you in the end. For me, I came on the shortlist of the New Writing Talent competition with the RNA in 2012 and 2014 with Hats off to Love. I made sure my first 3 chapters were the best they could be, because if the reader couldn't get past those, there wouldn't be much hope for the whole book. Also, if the RNA readers thought the first part was good enough to be on a shortlist, it gave me the confidence to finish the story and get it published. Keep writing and editing, and you'll have the whole thing done and edited before you know it.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. You've made some more good points here. I remember you getting shortlisted so that was a wonderful achievement - twice! Thanks for the encouragement and taking the time to leave comments.

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  4. Can't offer any advice I'm afraid but I enjoyed reading your experience of joining the RNA...it's such a wonderful organisation.
    I've been along to several Chapter meetings in Leicester, headed up by Lizzie Lamb and I'm always warmly accepted.
    Sounds like you have been given some very good advice here.

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    1. Thanks for popping by, Maria. I agree with you about the RNA and the warm welcomes we receive.

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  5. I can't advise on what to do for the RNA, but in general terms I think getting the draft done before starting on the editing is the best plan - changes of the ending might mean you've wasted time polishing an opening which needs to be rewritten.

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    1. Thanks, Patsy. I'm back writing novel two in earnest now and hope to get as much written as I can. I'll also try to get it into the best shape possible as a first draft. I've started by trying to write something every day even though it may be only a few hundred words. They're all mounting up!

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