Writing competition – unpublished novel contest

Agents are overwhelmed, the traditional book industry looks like Mount Doom and everyone with a book in them has already had theirs surgically removed.  You write yours, all full of youthful energy and enthusiasm. Well, at the start you are. By the end you are eighty nine years old. You send it to an agent. Look at me, you say, I wrote a book!

Well bully for you, they say. You and every other wanker who’s ever learned to type.

This can be a tad discouraging, after wasting a year or two of your life on your beloved masterpiece. I mean, you typed all those words. You spell-checked. It might even be not entirely bad. Why won’t they reeeead it?

It’s because you don’t have friends in right places, you think bitterly. It’s because you didn’t go to the right university. It’s because your parents never had the right connections. It’s because you have to work for a living.

It’s because you have nothing to show for your writing other than the ninety-odd thousand words you have so invitingly threatened to make them read. And because of Clause 74 of Sod’s Law, which says that you must already have published before you can get an agent.

My excuses days are over. This year I am taking positive, proactive, productive steps to advance what I would like to be a writing career. Or, or put it another way, found useful ways to procrastinate.

Three terrifying things have I found, and these are they:

The Lightship First Chapter competition appears to be an annual competition for the best first chapter. The contest is based entirely on that chapter, and the winner receives a year’s mentoring from a top writer, agent and publisher, who will consider publication if the fully grown beast is of sufficient quality at the end of that year. The closing date is June 30th 2012.

The Yeovil Literary Prize are running a Best Novel contest, judged by Sophie Hannah. They are looking for the first 15k words of your novel and the closing date is May 31st 2012.

Finally, there is the Paris Literary Prize, which is looking for the best novella between 17-35k words. The winner and two runners up will get a trip to Paris to pick up their prizes and who could ever say no to that?

These each require elevator pitches and summaries of varying lengths, and to that end I am going to work away on those nasty mean biting things, because frankly, without an indisputable deadline I will never write an elevator pitch or a summary of any length whatever. I am also going to spend some time looking at the appropriate lengths of sections and seeing what I can polish, or stick together with glue and sticky tape. Forced editing is good for the soul.

The novella one is intriguing, for a start because I am not writing a novella. However I do have a book within a book. And the interior book really ought to function as a novella, which makes this a good opportunity to sit down with it properly and kick it into shape.