This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
This time last year I’d had a busy week. My husband had gone to work in Switzerland, I had worked my last day at my job and I’d had limited sleep whilst I got my submission ready for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. I didn’t know it then, but that submission would change my life.
For those that don’t know the Romantic Novelists’ Association have a New Writers’ Scheme, which they accept 250 aspiring authors into each year. As part of the scheme you get the benefits of being a member (going to events at reduced rates) and a critique of one of your novels. Those novels have to be submitted by the end of August, hence creating a mad panic.
For those of you that have been working on your submission right up to this years’ deadline, I feel your pain. This time last year I was at the supermarket at 6am one morning buying a new ream of paper and sticky address labels, so that I could reprint and post it on my way to work.
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The novel I’d sent away had been a quirky one, one that I’d written the first draft in ten days (remember that long-term column readers?). I have to admit I’d had little time to polish it before I sent it away, so I knew that it was rough around the edges. Let’s just say when I got the critique back the reader hadn’t enjoyed the novel. I’d emasculated the hero, created a heroine that the reader hated and created an evil ex-boyfriend who wasn’t actually evil. All the makings of a great book, huh?
I happened to get that critique back on a day that I’d had a bad review for my debut novel on Amazon. I was very angry and took out my frustration on a new novel by starting to write ‘Don’t Tell the Groom’. After writing in a strop I soon realised it was the best writing I’d ever done. Then from there, with my newly found full-time writer status, husband in another country, and limited internet access, I wrote all the hours where I wasn’t getting pawed by my dog to take him for a walk. Two and a half weeks after that critique I’d finished the first draft.
And now, one year later, Don’t Tell the Groom has been released in ebook form by Quercus and will be published in print in December. A book that wouldn’t have been born (or at least not for a while) if I hadn’t received that harsh critique.
With regards to the critiqued novel, I haven’t done anything with it. I’ve filed it away and not looked at it. Would I ever work on it again? I’m not sure. But I do know that the critique did make me think about how my characters came across on paper, and how their dialogue and actions can cause monumental feelings of like or dislike in a reader. In essence it might have been hard to read, but it ultimately improved my writing.
Now, with my publishing deal, I’m leaving the NWS and becoming a fully fledged RNA member. I’d definitely recommend the scheme to aspiring authors if you write books with romantic leanings. As you can see the critique I had changed my life!
Have any other authors/aspiring authors had a knock back or rejection that ultimately sent them down the path to success?