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Writers' & Artists' Blog

From NaNoWriMo to Self-Publishing

Christopher Law

Last year I was invited to contribute to the series of blogs by participants in Nanowrimo 2013, which made me feel a little like a proper writer and was also quite useful in keeping me focused. 

Nano is a lot of fun but I know from previous experience that keeping the motivation can be incredibly hard, particularly if you're behind on the word count towards the end. I completed the challenge last year, with twenty minutes to spare, but my bragging rights are beside the point.

As a thank you for taking part I was able to submit my novel for the first stage of Writers and Artists' analysis service and receive some feedback on the synopsis and the opening chapter. I'm not an obsessive perfectionist but I do try to take a little pride in the work I show to other people so before I sent anything in I tidied everything up and got it as close to professional as I could manage. At this point I need to acknowledge my Dad, who manages to be an enthusiastic but impartial beta-reader and also …

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Post-Submission Decisions

Writing advice

Each step along the path to publication throws up fresh dilemmas. I had assumed, once I’d sent off my opening chapters to agents, that I’d have no more decisions to make in the submissions process. But this was not the case. Almost immediately, I began asking myself questions like, how long I should allow for a response and what action should I take when I receive one.

 The advice I gave myself to the first question was to be patient. Agents are busy people, as we all know. They will always prioritise their existing authors over any potential newcomers. But, they will get around to reading my work eventually, because they have to find new authors too. It just takes time. Most agents post guidelines on their websites as to how long you should allow before chasing a submission. I would be inclined to allow longer. I know, in my own life, that targets are often missed and it can be annoying to have this pointed out.

 Next question: how do I respond to the responses? When I do …

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The Importance of Perseverance

Gilly McAllister

I had no idea on that sunny July morning that my life was about to change. It wasn't a very typical morning, actually. I was on a course all week, not at my desk, and was enjoying the short hours and the socialising. I'd found a nearby independent cafe that sold delicious vanilla lattes and was consuming two a day. At 1pm, idly checking my email on my lunch hour, I saw it. And that's when my life changed. 

But there's a bit of backstory, first. I had written a novel, sporadically, over the preceding few years, and finally queried agents the previous summer. After a few full manuscript requests and quite a lot of angst, it was roundly rejected. I researched the querying process, then, though, and I realised that my rejections weren't absolutely typical. Only a few were form rejections, and most of the others said things like, "send me your next novel, if you write one," and "you write really well, but I'm not sure this has a big enough concept for a debut into publishing." I …

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Literary Festivals Are The New Rock & Roll

Kilburn Literary Festival

Literary festivals are the new rock and roll.

Ok - maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but they are definitely branching out in their appeal. No longer the preserve of genteel market towns, literary festivals have gone urban. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in London. Putting aside the giant London Literary Festival, it seems that every nook, cranny and postcode is holding a Literary Festival - from central London’s Soho Literary Festival (with it’s 36 events at The Soho Theatre), to the leafy suburbs of The Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival, where over 90 authors appear over 3 days. 

Now back to my popular music analogy...

While the slightly edgier Stoke Newington Literary Festival - which celebrates the area’s radical and literary history - brings a bit more rock and roll to the London literary calendar, The Kilburn Literary Festival is the newcomer going all out to claim the title of funkiest festival of the …

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To Plan or Not To Plan

Helen Jones

‘I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.’ Douglas Adams


There are as many ways to write a story as there are writers, each of us taking our own journey to the end of the tale, discovering which methods work best for us as we commit words to paper. As I continue to learn more about the process, I’ve discovered that most of those methods tend to fall into one of two groups; planners and pantsers – I’m assured these are the technical terms and they can be defined as follows:


Planner: Writes a detailed plan of their novel, chapter by chapter, making sure loose ends are tied up, that the story progresses at an acceptable pace and the desired conclusion is met. Often this is in a chart format. Then they start to write.

Pantser: Starts to make a plan, has a few ideas, or one idea, or maybe a couple of characters. Starts to write and realises they had no idea what the story was actually …

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