Competition dilemma

By chance on Saturday morning, I noticed a post that Lisa Jewell had shared on Facebook- she was advertising a competition she had given some advice for run by the Daily Mail, literary agent Luigi Bonomi and publisher Penguin Random House. They are looking for a previously unpublished, unrepresented writer and story. If the author wins they can negotiate their deal and potentially receive a £20,000 advance.

I have seen other projects like this before and have been really sceptical. However having read the terms and conditions carefully, I’ve decided to go for it.

Why? I simply have nothing to lose. At this point I need to shake things up, try and explore new avenues. Lisa Jewell and other authors provided some advice for those considering entering and some of it I found really interesting. In particular, Luigi’s advice rang very loudly in my ears. He encourages writers to start with a sentence that pulls the reader in and start in a great scene. This got me thinking. Perhaps I have been receiving so many rejections because my opening is poor.

This is not my only dilemma. This agency has already turned me down once last year. But my thinking is, if I re-work the opening, show them I am willing to be critical about my work and not just give up, maybe they will give me another chance. Though to be honest, this might be big headed thinking, they may not even recognise my name or my story as they get thousands of submissions.

I sat down with Latest Mistake on Saturday night and started reading and making some notes. They are looking for 5,000 words only, which is about two chapters. I have no issue in confessing how daunted I am in re-writing the opening. I’m terrified about losing key details or jeopardising how I identify with the story. One part of me is loathed to change it so late in the game, but another part of me is pushing me to try. I am being rejected from agents for a reason and maybe I need to loosen my grip on the story and try to do what I can to improve it.

The deadline is 16th April so I still have plenty of time to make amendments and having read over the first two chapters, I think I have my work cut out for me. Possibly I may turn to some books I really like the opening of and go from there, they may provide some much needed inspiration and confidence…needless to say I’m nervous.


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