For non-fiction writers
Be clear about how your proposal offers something new to the discussion. This can be political, emotional or philosophical, but have an answer to why you have chosen to write this book and why you are best placed to write it.
Make sure to demonstrate why you think there is an audience for your story. Non-fiction responds to the trends and status quo in a way that fiction doesn’t have to. For example, a proposal exploring BAME identity in the face of structural racism might point to the rise of activist currents that shed light on the same subject, such as Why Is My Curriculum White / Rhodes Must Fall / Black Lives Matter. Equally, an autobiographical proposal about the transgender experience might point to popular interest in hugely successful TV shows such as Orange Is the New Black.
Finally, the originality of the idea and the profile of the writer can be just as important as the quality of writing itself. We would encourage writers to get their work out there in whichever way possible: in magazines, online blogs, newspapers, etc. and to tell us as part of your application if you have an existing platform.
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.
Be careful not to overuse dialogue. Overly long passages of conversation can be difficult to follow, particularly for young readers, and don’t always further the plot or show character development.
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. Focus 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.