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How to make your Movella a Winner

Take a look at these top tips to turn your Movella into a prize winning entry. Tips by Young Adult Fiction writer Beverley Ward
by

Reading Activists

on 19 February 2013

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Transcript of How to make your Movella a Winner

You don’t need a gunshot, but a winning novel will grab the reader from the beginning.

In modern fiction a good opening will usually do one or all of the following:
Throw you straight into the middle of the action
Show you something about the main character/s
Have a sense of the time and place in which the book is set
Hint at some questions or ‘hooks’ which make the reader want to keep reading
Set the tone of voice for the rest of the novel READY? How to make your
Movella a WINNER SONY Young Movellist
of the Year
tips and ideas
brought to you by... Get more tips on writing a winning entry here:
http://readingagency.org.uk/young-people/003-skills/ (Keep Clickin') Tip 1: Start with a bang Tip 2: Show don’t tell You may have heard it before but it’s a great piece of advice for an aspiring writer. As readers we want to feel that we’re part of the action, being swept along by the narrative so that we don’t notice the author.

For example, if someone is angry, we want to see them being angry: “Joe slammed his foot into the door,” as opposed to, “Joe was really cross.”

We want to see characters living and come to know them through what they do, what they say and how they interact with others. Create convincing characters and then let them live on the page. Trust that your reader can see what’s happening without you spelling it out to them. You might feel silly sitting in your room reciting your novel to the wall but it’s one of the best ways to hear what works and what doesn’t work.

When you’re reading out loud, look out for words that you stumble over and sentences that are so long that you can’t find time to breathe, like this one!

When you read your dialogue, does it sound like someone is really speaking? It needs to be real enough to be convincing but not so real that it includes every ‘um’ and ‘er’. Tip 3: Read your book out loud to yourself Tip 4: Read your book out loud to an audience This might be even more nerve-wracking, but reading aloud to an audience can give you a real sense of whether your work is communicating with the reader in the way that you want it to.

If your audience is yawning and getting restless, you might need to speed up the pace at that point, including more showing and less telling, more action and less description.

If you find yourself willing people to hang on because there’s a good bit coming up, maybe you need to skip to the good bit now and cut out the brilliant description of the sunset.
. It’s another cliché but sometimes clichés have their place.

“Your darlings” are those beautifully crafted phrases or sentences that make you feel like the greatest writer that ever lived. When you read them your heart swells with pride. Maybe your GCSE examiner might give you a few extra marks for them but, unfortunately, they often worm themselves into the wrong novel.

You need to see the bigger picture. Your reader is in this novel for the long haul and your wonderful sentence might well be getting in the way of her finding out what happens next. Or maybe it just has a different tone or voice to the rest of the piece.

If it’s too painful to press ‘delete’, then ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ instead and store up that lovely phrase for your next masterpiece. Tip 5: Kill your darlings Again, it’s a painful lesson to learn but often, with fiction, less is more.

If the beginning of your novel doesn’t seem quite exciting enough, is it the right beginning? Chop off the first paragraph, the first page or the first chapter and see if it works better. Often we write ourselves into the novel and the first few pages or chapters are us warming up. The reader doesn’t need to see you stretching your muscles. They want to see you run.

Likewise with the ending. Would it better without that last line or chapter where you neaten everything up? Are you trying to ‘tell’ us too much again? Be brutal and question the validity of every word. Is it needed? If not, cut it. Tip 6: Cut, cut and cut some more Tip 7: Get the voice right This is a tricky one and sometimes you don’t know you’ve got the voice right until all of sudden something clicks and the novel starts to flow.

The key is to think about who is telling the story and stay with that voice throughout. This doesn’t mean that you can’t write from the perspective of more than one character but the voice of each character needs to be consistent.

For every line you’ve written, ask yourself the question, “says who?” and this will help to make sure the voice is true.

It’s ‘show not tell’ again. We don’t want to hear your voice; we want to hear the voice of the characters or the narrator. Closely allied to the question of ‘voice’, narrative point of view can be a common stumbling block for the young writer.

Unless you’re Virginia Woolf, flitting between the heads of different characters is rarely successful. Stay in the head of one character for a prolonged period of time (usually at least a chapter, if not the whole novel).

If you change viewpoint it needs to be absolutely clear whose eyes the reader is looking through otherwise they will lose trust in your writing.

“The room was messy.” Says who? One person’s messy is another person’s charming disarray. Tip 8: Don’t switch point of view Verbs and adverbs are simple things to look over when you’re editing.Are you using the best possible verbs? Did Jennifer ‘shut’ the door or did she ‘slam’ it? Or did she ‘ease’ it closed?

In dialogue, you don’t need to think of new ways to say “said”. Unless absolutely necessary, no-one wants to read about characters who “expostulated”, “questioned”, “queried”, “interrogated”, “acknowledged”, “bantered” etc Nothing wrong with someone “shouting” every now and then but most of the time a simple “said” is less intrusive.

Think about your adverbs too. Did Jennifer “shut the door forcefully”? Or did she “slam” it? Tip 9: Look at your verbs and adverbs Before you send it in, check the following:
Does your manuscript look professional?
Have you checked the formatting? Indented your dialogue correctly? Spaced your paragraphs well? (If you’re not sure, have a look at some published books for ideas).
Have you numbered your pages?
Have you checked for spelling mistakes by hand, with a spell-checker and asked a friend to check as well?
Is your punctuation and grammar accurate?

Finally, is this novel the best you can do with the skills you’ve got at this stage in your life? If not, is there anything you can do to make it better?
Good luck! Tip 10: Spend a lot of time editing To write is human, to edit is divine.” Steven King, On Writing.

Most writers don’t publish their first novel and even fewer publish their first draft. To stand a chance of winning, your novel should have been drafted, redrafted, edited and proofread before you send it in.
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