This blog post is written by crime novelist, guest blogger and one of our incredible Jericho editors Eve Seymour. The countdown for The Festival of Writing is well and truly underway and we are thrilled to be welcoming Eve back to host a number of information packed workshops and talks at The Festival of Writing 2018.
In this post, Eve will give you an idea of what to expect over the weekend in York and just a glimpse in to the fantastic opportunities that await writers in September.
Writing, as we all know, is a pretty solitary exercise. It’s just you, your imagination and a notebook or computer in a room, alone. Once inside your quiet space, all manner of creepy crawly things can set out to hijack you; from kindly souls who don’t ‘get’ that you’re actually working and don’t wish to be disturbed, to the mother of all monsters: self-doubt. And yes, professional authors are not immune from either.
While you may well experience the deep thrill of writing a story that is flying towards the finish line, sometimes you may find yourself staring blindly at a blank page or screen, unable to function. It can be destabilising and dispiriting.
So where better to congregate with like-minded souls than at the Festival of Writing?
Mini-courses are pitched at all levels of ability so no need to be shy. Frankly, this year, I’d find it hard to choose with so much on offer. Self-Editing, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Writing Character and ‘How to Write a Novel in Three Hours’ – tempted to attend this one myself – are all available on the first day of the festival.
Workshops span two days and cover all genres. Basically, there is something for everyone. Topics range from writing fantasy for young people, women’s, historical, children’s fiction and, my personal interest, crime fiction. Harry will be talking about the thorny subject of ‘Gratuitous Sex and Violence’ – not for nothing do we have the Bad Sex awards in Literature. I’ll be talking about ‘Do’s and Don’ts For Pace and Tension.’ Sounds a little stern and prescriptive but there’s plenty of humour to drive points home. ‘What Crime Writing Can Teach About How to Hook The Reader’ is also suitable for writers whose interest is not of a criminal persuasion. And there’s a workshop on how to hook an agent and another giving the lowdown on the agent author relationship. If you aspire to be an ‘indie’ author, Harry is the ‘go to’ man with his workshop on self-publishing. Whatever stage you’re at, you’ll discover tips on every technical aspect of novel writing from pitch to publication, including how to write that pesky synopsis and query letter.
For a more personalised experience, one-to-one’s provide a brilliant opportunity to showcase extracts of your work to agents, book doctors, editors and publishers. There is nothing like sitting across a table and discussing your story face-to-face with your chosen expert. This is when you can get down to the real nitty-gritty of what’s working (and what isn’t). Not only does it provide sound grounding for what it feels like to work with a professional and receive constructive criticism, it also creates that unique chance to walk away with an offer of representation or, better still, a publishing deal. Yes, these things happen.
For specific questions on any subject, try the genre discussions involving panels of experts in Literary, Children and YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Crime Thrillers. Vigorous debate will, no doubt, ensue in the Futurecast panel on Sunday, in which our experts will gaze into a crystal ball and predict trends and new opportunities for writers.
But where would we be without Friday Night Live in which authors are invited to submit 500 words, the best extracts read live to an audience? Those lucky enough to be selected receive expert and positive feedback. In an atmosphere of fun and goodwill, the audience choose the winner.
Doesn’t matter if you’re flying solo, The Gala Dinner on Saturday is guaranteed to help you make new friends, often from other countries. Last time I attended, I sat next to an agent from Israel and a writer from South Africa. Dress down or dress up, it’s less about food (as good as it is) and more about – you guessed it – books and celebration. At the end of the evening, winners of the ‘Best Opening Chapter’ and ‘Pitch Perfect’ Competition are announced. (Pitch Perfect does not requires singing, just a brilliant 150 word précis of what makes your novel stand out from the crowd).
And if this all sounds too giddy, it’s perfectly acceptable to go and find yourself a quiet spot in which you can settle down with a cup of coffee and chat to whoever happens to be around at the time. I did exactly this on one occasion and found myself in an interesting conversation with another book doctor and a couple of writers. It doesn’t all have to be frenetic, as exhilarating as this may be.
So what do you take away from the festival? For sure, friends, contacts and detailed and expert knowledge that is likely to transform your whole approach to writing. While you may or may not take away a publishing or film deal, or an offer of agent representation, you will definitely go away feeling empowered. Where else would you rather be on the second weekend in September?
E.V. Seymour is the author of ten novels and has had a number of short stories broadcast on BBC Radio Devon. Find out more about Eve’s writing and what she is up to on her personal website.
Don’t miss Eve’s fantastic workshops at The Festival of Writing in Session 1 on Saturday 8th and Session 4 on Sunday 9th September. She’ll be discussing the importance of pace and tension and well as important lessons we can learn from crime writing. Find out more about the other events we have in the programme and how you can grab your tickets here.
Eve is also one of our incredible industry professionals available to review your manuscript. Get detailed feedback on what the problems are and how to address them in order to produce a final perfect draft. Find out how you can take your writing to the next level here.