Event report

Conference 2011 - The New Writers’ Scheme

Report published 22 September 2011

Melanie Hilton : The RNA New Writer’s Scheme

Melanie (NWS Scheme organiser) shared with us 10 tips to deal with common mistakes that may hold our stories back.

1. Dress for success - Presentation. Send what is asked for, no more, no less - and definitely no gimmicks.

2. Grab ‘em by the Throat - Get stuck into a critical moment for a major protagonist on page 1.

3. Get the Point Right - Punctuation is the respiration of the book, clarity and pace depend on it. Perfectly proofed typescripts are our professional calling cards.

4. Show Don’t Tell. Choose point of view carefully and avoid the God’s Eye View. As an exercise, change from 3rd to lst person to help see problems.

5. Not Another Cup of Tea - Every exchange of dialogue and scene must move the story forward or reveal something about the characters, or both. Fling in a problem to lift a saggy middle.

6. Dear Old Ladies of 45 - Listen to chat in cafes, bars, on the bus and in the gym and write realistic, but not true-to-life dialogue. Think about their age and beware of cliches.

7. The Eternal Student - or the Research Trap - Targeted research or a wonderful displacement activity? See through the eyes of your character(s) and don’t info dump.

8. But My Best Friend Loves It! - will be biased unless your best friend is an editor, agent, or many-times published author. Choose critics carefully.

9. “My Novel has been Trashed!” - “If she’d read to Chapter 6 she’d have found the answer to the question.” - “But I didn’t mean it.” Remember - the message received is the message sent. Go back and look at it to see why.

10. Constructive Criticism is the key - it hurts, but learn to manage and channel the pain by listening and analysing.

NWS members who are not currently on ROMNA, the cyber chapter of the RNA, are asked to join as it is a great way for Melanie to keep in touch. She took the opportunity to send out a plea. If your tss isn’t complete, send in a partial and a brief idea on what is missing and where it’s going. Remember, it must be received by Melanie by 31 August.

Make the most of the NWS. It is there to help. 68 tss have, so far, been received, and four have gone to a second read. With around 180 scripts expected during August, think about the readers who may be inundated. Most of all, remember her poor partner who has to collect the post in a wheelbarrow!

Written by by Lynn Johnson

It's a fact

In 1991, founding RNA member Barbara Cartland was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.