RNA New Writers’ Scheme

I’ve just come back from a meeting of the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. We get together every three months at the Edwardian Tea Rooms in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for lunch and a chat about writing in general and romance writing in particular.

I joined the RNA at the beginning of 2010 through its New Writers Scheme, which provides unpublished authors with a comprehensive report on a full-length romance novel. The report covers characters, plot and the suitability of the novel for its intended audience. This scheme has a limit of 250 places and opens for applications at the beginning of January each year (but you do have until the end of August to submit your manuscript). The scheme is usually full within a month – so you have to be quick off the mark!

My novel came out of this very badly but nevertheless it was money well spent. The following points came out of the detailed critque:

  • Aim at a readership that you can identify with – it’s hard to write to chick-lit for 20-somethings when you’re old enough to be their mother!
  • Get to know your characters before  you start writing – my heroine had many inconsistencies in the way she acted, leaving it difficult for the reader to care about her at all
  • Work out the plot in detail, again before you start writing, mine had as many holes as a seive 
  • Only include scenes that move the story on otherwise the book becomes dull

Don’t submit to the New Writers’ Scheme if you’re afraid of criticism – parts of my report were quite brutal. Recognise the report you receive for what it is – an attempt to help you become a better writer and that can’t be done without honestly telling you if your novel is bad.

Of course not everyone’s work is as bad as mine! Anne, who I met at lunchtime, was given some useful advice about giving her 1950s heroine more oomph and she is now working to improve her book. About 5% of manuscripts submitted to the scheme are judged worthy of a second reading and may then get sent on to an agent. 

If you decide to submit – Good Luck! and remember, contrary to popular belief romance writing is not easy.

Today’s writing prompt: Easter Egg (not very seasonable now but remember if you’re writing for publication, magazines work several months in advance).

Easter Egg

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  1. #1 by Jane Holland on November 13, 2010 - 6:19 pm

    Great photo! And wasn’t it a good meeting? Well, I certainly had fun at my end of the table!!

    Thanks for posting this. Sorry to hear about the brutality of your NWS report though. I’m sure brutality isn’t a requirement for improving someone’s work.

    Best, Jane

  2. #2 by Marilyn Rodwell on November 13, 2010 - 8:59 pm

    I’m impressed. You were quick off the ball! Well done. Now I don’t feel I have to do mine!! Not to worry about the feelings that negative critiques bring, do something about it and show them. Remember,no piece of writing is really wasted.

    Keep writing, Marilyn x

  3. #3 by blogaboutwriting on November 14, 2010 - 8:50 pm

    Sally
    I know that you had some ‘tough love’ at the hands of the RNA’s report because you showed it to me! But well done for taking it on the chin and not giving up! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and all that. I know that I’ve learned more over the years from ‘honest’ criticism than I have from the ‘that was lovely’ brigade, so onwards and upwards! (and nice to see that Jane Holland was at the meeting! Hello, Jane!) Sounds like you had a fun day! Helen

  4. #4 by Sally Jenkins on November 15, 2010 - 9:00 pm

    Many thanks to you all for your encouraging words!

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