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.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Reflecting Back, Looking Forward
The house is quiet and the family's gone home. Every chocolate and every morsel of Christmas cake has been eaten and it's back to it! The blog is now three years old and, as is tradition, each January I've reflected back on the previous year and set out what I'd like to achieve in the one to come. 

The last twelve months turned out to be a very lean year on the short story front. It was what I expected as I concentrated on finishing and polishing my novel. I submitted short stories and flash fiction pieces to a small number of competitions and was pleased to be long listed and short listed on a few occasions. Rising From The Ashes was inspired by a true event where a school was burned to the ground in the early hours of New Year's Day 2016 and told how the local community came together to deal with the tragedy. It was shortlisted in the Nottingham Short Story Competition where the theme was Fire. Another story that was shortlisted, this time in the Erewash Open Short Story Competition, was The Bag Lady. This dealt with the theme of dementia and how a beautiful handbag and its contents unlocked an old lady's memories of her life as a young woman. As you will have read on the blog, I had stories published on Cafe Lit and Alfie Dog Fiction and two of my flash fictions appeared in the annual Worcestershire Lit Fest Anthology of Flash Fiction, entitled A Cache of Flashes. 

The blog has continued to attract more readers and I'm grateful to those of you who visit the blog regularly and leave comments. The year started with a series of guest posts about editing. It was interesting to see how different writers approached writing subsequent drafts of their novels. Some were working alone on a debut novel; others were working with editors. A big thank you to Sandra Mackness (Jill Barry), Sue McDonagh, Susanna Bavin, Sam Carrington and Judith Barrow.  

As well as tracing my own writing journey, I was delighted to be able to share the success of some writers' new publications. I interviewed Carol Lovekin, Thorne Moore and Sam Carrington about their wonderful books. 

The highlight of 2016 for me was becoming a member of the RNA's New Writers' Scheme. I worked hard on getting my manuscript to the best standard I could and submitted my novel for a critique in May. I couldn't believe how nervous I felt as I pressed 'send' that day! The detailed reader's report was both very positive and encouraging and yet constructive in suggesting ways in which I could improve it further. I can't thank my reader enough for looking at my 'baby' in that objective way. My first RNA Conference in July motivated me still further and as well as attending excellent workshops, it was so good to meet on-line 'friends' in person. 

I've travelled further along my journey as a writer in 2016. I am very fortunate to be a member of a very supportive critique group where we meet up every few weeks. We are all at different stages with our novels. So, what does this coming year hold for me?
In the coming year, I would like to:
  • find a home for novel number one by approaching agents and publishers 
  • having rejoined RNA NWS, finish writing my second novel in time for a critique by the end of August
  • write new short stories and flash fiction and submit them to a few competitions, in between novel drafts
  • attend the RNA Conference in July
  • support other authors by inviting them onto my blog 
  • continue to enjoy my writing and learn more about the craft.
Thank you for reading. What are your intentions this year? I'd love it if you left a comment. :-) Good luck in achieving your goals in 2017. If you have a new book coming out or would like to share some writing news, please message me. 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.