The Bath Novel judges have started releasing ‘teasers’ for their short list – and many, like myself, will doubtless be desperately persuading ourselves that our plots somehow resemble those described below. Try as I might, however, it can’t be done. Another competition entry bites the dust…

There is, however, much to be learned. My book isn’t actually bad (it’s been long listed in one competition and came third in another), but clearly it isn’t good enough. My opening page in particular lacks the impact to stand out against competition like this: 

  • ‘Stranded time-traveller misfit goes on the run.’
  • ‘Two families bound together in the aftermath of tragedy.’
  • ‘Young care leavers are re-homed in a remote Cornish resort.’
  • ‘Spare and tenderly written story of siblings reunited in rural Ireland.’
  • ‘Tightly written tale of a divided community. Interesting, vivid characters with exceptional sense of place.’
  • ‘A summer fling, an affair and an unexplained death during a family holiday.’

There is a pattern here: strong and well-written characters combined with drama and a vivid sense of place. Something that reaches out from the page and grabs the reader.

I wish the writers of the above books every success and am enjoying a frisson of vicarious pleasure at imaging how they must feel at the moment. Well done to every one of them.

A member of ninevoices recently drew our attention to an excellent post by Fiona Mitchell on what can be learned from rejection. She wrote amusingly of her ‘Folder of Doom‘, containing a sheaf of rejections, but listed five positive things that she’d learned from them. Well worth studying. So I’m not about to make a drama out of not getting on this short list. Nobody died. Nobody took out a big pointy sword and threatened me with it. I simply need to give my opening a bit (maybe even a lot) more welly and keep my sense of humour handy. And there are plenty of other competitions out there.


Check out Fiona Mitchell’s encouraging piece here: https://fionamitchell.org/2018/05/09/5-types-of-rejection-letters-and-what-you-can-learn-from-them/