Friday at the Festival of Writing: inspiration and motivation

Our Festival of Writing 2017 live blogs gave authors insight into what to expect of a Festival experience. In the first of this series of ‘live’ blog posts from the Festival of Writing 2017.

Sarah Ann Juckes gives a daily round-up of the Festival, including top tips from Friday mini-courses and an exclusive on Friday Night Live.

This weekend in York, lives will be changed.

Nope – no exaggeration. Tor Udall’s life was changed in 2013, when she chatted to two agents at the Festival of Writing who both ended up bidding to represent her. And for Deborah Install, when she landed a six figure book deal on the back of Friday Night Live.

These round-ups will only scratch the surface of the Festival of Writing 2017, but I’ll bring you all the top tips, exclusives and buzz I can – right as it happens. If you’re fortunate enough to be here with me – tweet your experiences at #FoW17 and I’ll include as many as I can in these posts. If you read these and wish you were here, then ensure you sign up to our newsletter and watch our social media to be the first to know about tickets for next year.

Fasten those seatbelts. We’re kicking things off in style.

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The best writing mini-courses you’ll take?

Debi Alper’s ‘Self Editing Your Novel’ was just one of six mini-courses on offer to start the weekend.

Debi did an astonishing job of condensing her wildly-popular online course into three hours. Top tips on offer included:

  • If you’re struggling to find your voice in third person, try writing your scene in first and then swapping the pronouns.
  • Subplots have to be equally compelling to the main action to deserve being dragged away. One way to avoid jarring the reader is to make subplots mirror the main narrative.
  • The deeper you get into a character’s emotional landscape, the more their voice should colour the prose.

Andrew Wille’s ‘Plotting Masterclass’ also got rave reviews:

And I was sorry to miss Julie Cohen’s ‘Women’s Fiction Masterclass’ after seeing this tweet:

Top tips from literary agents: Industry Q&A

What do you get when you put a whole load of agents and editors in a room together? Insightful comments about the industry, of course.

  • “Be Bold. Be Brave. Just write the best book you can and don’t worry about the rest.” – Eleanor Dryden
  • There is no upper age limit on selling a book to a publisher.
  • The reason agents don’t always give detailed rejections: they get a lot of submissions – over 150 per week – and they don’t get paid until a book is sold. Agents need to invest their time into the books they do take on, in order to make a sustainable living. Now you know!

Friday Night Live: a night of exceptional writing

Seven hand-picked writers read from their work in front of an audience packed with agents, publishers and press – with much more than a bottle of bubbly at stake. Each one made the very best of the spotlight they were given, and listened as a panel of professional judges gave them live feedback (gulp).

The readers were (in order of appearance):

  • Loretta Milan – ‘Open the Doors’
  • Abigail Johnson – ‘September Song’
  • Frances McGovern – ‘The Redemption of Nathan Mortimer’
  • Sophie Snell – ‘The Pear Drum’
  • Abigail Johnson – ‘September Song’
  • Paul Sharp – ‘The Sage of Highgate’
  • Joy Watkins – ‘Neat and Tidy Vera’
  • Kate Horstead – ‘In Our Bones’

So, we are very pleased to exclusively reveal that the winner was – drumroll – Sophie Snell! She brought the room to absolute silence during her reading of ‘The Pear Drum’ and received glowing feedback from the judges. Congratulations, Sophie.

As Friday draws to a close, everyone is charging laptops and sharpening pencils ready for tomorrow. If it’s anything like today, we’re in for a corker.

Then there’s what happened on Saturday.

Free plotting worksheets

Make the hardest part of writing easier