Thank you so much to each and every one of you who applied for WriteNow. We loved reading your stories, and learning more about you and why you write.
We had over 2,000 applications to three events, with 50 places on offer in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Editors across our business had the difficult task of assessing all your applications. They have given us some feedback to help clarify what it was that made the applications we’re taking through really stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few things we liked most about the submissions we read:
Less is more
Some of the best writers kept it simple. They weren’t overly descriptive with language and didn’t use too many adjectives or adverbs. This made the story feel more natural.
Stand out from the crowd
The best writing had something fresh and new about it – maybe an unusual setting, or a different way of telling a familiar story. The best stories didn’t overdo this, and weren’t too complex. Often the simplest stories with fundamentally human themes are the most engaging.
Work on the pitch
We know that writing a short description or pitch of your book can be really tricky, and this is usually something that literary agents will help you with. The best responses to the question ‘what is your book about?’ were:
- Concise, clear and to the point.
- Included the main plot, a summary of themes, a hint of an ending – and no more. Try looking at the back of a few published books in your genre to get a sense of how to structure a synopsis well. It should be a little longer than what you would normally read on the back of a book, but we don’t need to know everything
- Included a snappy positioning line - for example ‘think GRAVITY meets ONE DAY’.
- Were confident, but not over-confident (don’t tell us the book is going to be good, just show us).
- For non-fiction submissions, they included an overview of the key target audience for their particular subject.
Be careful with dialogue
Dialogue can be particularly tricky to write in a way which sounds natural, and can be hard to follow if you’re reading a short extract. To develop your dialogue, try listening to how people talk in real life - notice the rhythm and how people ask questions.
Show, don’t tell
Aim to create an immersive reading experience, which feels natural and draws the reader in – and leaves them wanting more. Try not to think too much about how you convey the plot or story line in your sample of writing. The best submissions focused first and foremost on creating atmosphere and characters.
Less of the backstory
The best plots don’t need to be over-explained but can be referred to more subtly, which creates more pace and intrigue for the reader. It can be easy to try and pack too much information into a short extract.
Choose the right extract
We particularly liked extracts which were carefully chosen and were representative of the book as a whole. Finding an extract which clearly links to the description of the book worked well.
We hope this post has been helpful, and that it will guide and inform your writing in the future. If you’d like to, you can follow the #WriteNowLive journey on Twitter and keep an eye on this blog for new posts, including videos and content from our WriteNow events.
Wishing you the best of luck for the future.