Illustration of a hand writing in a book with a pen

WriteNow 2023 feedback

We received over 1,300 applications to WriteNow this year, with only 50 places on offer on our shortlist. While we can’t give individual feedback to everybody, our assessors have shared the below advice:

Get us hooked

We read a lot of submissions, so it really helps to make your hook clear, concise, and immediately gripping. Then, make sure to follow through on the promise of that premise in your synopsis and writing sample.

We were incredibly impressed with the quality and standard of all the submissions this year, but the ones that stood out were those that showed a distinctive idea – something original, or a fresh take on a common trope - that made us excited to read on.

Spend time on your synopsis

Applications were judged on their hook and synopsis, as well as quality of the writing sample, so the submissions that stood out the most combined great writing with a strong pitch.

We can only get a glimpse of your story in a 1,000 word writing sample, so in your synopsis we were looking for a clear and concise explanation of your entire book which makes us want to read more.

The feedback from our assessors was that a lot of submissions went into detail about why they used certain plot devices or why they wanted to get into writing, without really telling us what the book was about. Remember, your synopsis should outline the entire story, including the main plot points and characters. Don’t be afraid to use some spoilers in this, the editor needs to know why your story is different!

Read the application guide

The application guide has been created with you in mind, so remember to use it! For example, we know that writing a synopsis can be hard, so had outlined what we’re looking for and given some guidance in advance.

Whenever you are ever applying for writing competitions, funding, or bursaries, an application guide is your best friend. Each organisation or funder may be looking for something slightly different, so it’s worth taking the time to check you are doing everything they are looking for.

We'd recommend reading all the guidelines through a few times to ensure you've taken it all in, and remember you can always reach out to the company directly over email if you need any clarification on anything at all.

Choose the right extract

Always give careful thought to how you will structure the sample and, if possible, take the time to introduce us to the main characters and hint at the upcoming story, so we are left wanting to read on.

An extract taken from the middle of the book can work, but it can also leave us confused as to who your characters are and what they want, so be mindful of this.

Remember too that your extract and your synopsis are linked, so make sure the extract you choose fits clearly with the themes and plot mentioned in your synopsis.

It can be hard to be objective with your own writing, so consider running a few options past someone who hasn't read your book in full and ask them which extract makes them want to read more.

Edit, edit again, then edit some more

Keep refining – it's almost impossible to write something perfect on the first go, so don't despair. Look back over your work, read it aloud to yourself and don't be afraid to make changes.

It's always useful to have fresh eyes on your work so share with friends or family for feedback, or join a writing group that can provide more objective comments.

Keep going

We received a huge number of submissions and had to make some really hard decisions when shortlisting. There were many strong and interesting applications that didn't quite make it, but that is not a reason to give up. Keep writing, keep honing your story and keep pitching.

To help you on your writing journey we've put together a handy guide to navigating the publishing process. Or get more information straight to your inbox by signing up to our Getting Published newsletter here.

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