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A Writer On Writing: Romantic Novelists' Association - New Writer's Scheme

New columnist Sally Jenkins tells of a scheme which provides unpublished authors with a comprehensive report on a full-length romance novel.

I attended 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

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Scheme, which provides unpublished authors with a comprehensive report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

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).


Do visits Sally's Web site http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com


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