I have been absent for a little while from the blog because I was desperately trying to finish my novel manuscript (second draft) to send to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (phew, that’s a mouthful! Hope I got my apostrophes right!).
The deadline was midnight on Friday 31st August and, typical me, I was still beavering away until the last minute (I spent 9.5 hours ‘at it’ on Friday! Eek.I was boss-eyed!). I do not, by the way, recommend this as a way to write but it seems to be the only way that I can do it!
If you’re the sort of (sensible) person who completes tasks a few days ahead, my ‘method’ probably sounds like a nightmare but apparently, ‘some people thrive on the pressure and stress of a looming deadline’. And unfortunately, I’m one of them!
So, anyway, I zapped it off just in time. And breathe…
The RNA offers a limited number of ‘New Writer’ memberships each year. In 2018 it was 300. To qualify as a ‘new writer’ you must not have had a full-length novel (or long serial) published and to become a member of the NWS, you have to nab one of the limited places (and pay for it, of course!) by pressing ‘send’ on your email as soon as possible on the 1st or 2nd January (or whenever they announce that the NWS will be accepting applications for that year). As part of your membership fee, you can submit a full-length novel manuscript for a critique, as long as you send it by 31st August.
It’s too late to apply for this year, obviously, but if you’re interested in applying next year (and do bear in mind you can only submit a romance novel for critique!), then keep an eye on the RNA website for more details over the next few months.
Before I pressed ‘send’ I did a quick search on the document for some of my favourite, much-used words. I am a devil for using ‘just’. (A lot!) I reckon I’d used it on every page.
Here is one (particularly bad) example:
“But we’ve just had a sale, got rid of a lot of stock and there just wasn’t anything quite right.”
I use qualifiers like ‘quite’, ‘really’, ‘very’ and ‘suddenly’ a fair bit too BUT nowhere near as often as I use ‘just’, so I went through some of the document, changing some justs to ‘only’ or ‘merely’ or ‘exactly’ or ‘recently’ or ‘simply’ – or taking them out altogether.
But there are still a lot lurking in the manuscript, which I’ll have to weed out in the next draft.
By coincidence, I read a tweet recently in which women were urged to stop using the word ‘just’, particularly in the workplace. Why? Because it sounds like an apology.
“Can I just borrow you for a second?”
“I was just wondering if you’d had chance to read that report yet?”
“I just wanted to know if you …”
This is not a new idea. There were articles about how women use ‘just’ in the workplace much more than men, back in 2015 but I must admit, they passed me by.
As Ellen Lease, a former Google employee says, in an article referenced here, it’s a ‘permission’ word, ‘a warm-up to a request, an apology for interrupting, a shy knock on a door before asking “Can I get something I need from you?”
Ooh yes, she’s right! I think I’ve been guilty of using this four letter word! (and not only in the novel). I will try to stop.
Did anyone else love ‘Just Good Friends’?! Ah, Vince and Penny. That was one of my favourite TV programmes! (and it was a romance, of course!)