Just in Time!

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!)

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15 Responses to Just in Time!

  1. Nine-plus hours? You’re amazing! But it sounds worth it if you’re gonna get a critique. That’s darn cool. Congrats on getting your MS in on time!

  2. juliathorley says:

    I often work up to a deadline, but you’ve got this down to a fine art. I just (!) hope it’s worth it.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      You see, it’s quite tricky not to use the ‘j’ word, isn’t it?! (by the way, Julia, I saw your post about the H.E Bates competition – I also got an email about it the other day – and IF I am organised enough, I am hoping to enter that. I know it’s all done anonymously, so I hope I’m allowed to say that!)

  3. Maria says:

    I’ve ‘just’ got two competition pieces in by the deadline. I’ve had weeks to sort them out but haven’t, so I’ve been hunched over my laptop for the last five hours! That’s quite enough. Goodnight.
    P.S. Well done on hitting your deadline.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      Thanks Maria and good luck to you with your comp entries. Glad it’s not just me that has a mad burst of activity as the deadline looms! Night night!

  4. Wendy Clarke says:

    I’ve just got my line edits back. I’m on holiday so am deliberately not looking at them but I can guarantee that ‘just’ could very well be one if the highlighted words!

  5. Keith Havers says:

    My friend Justin won’t be very happy.

  6. bookvirgin says:

    Wow thats some going on the writing front. Good luck. I also use the same words a lot! Trying to make sure i weed these out during editing but its tough lol.

  7. Rosemary Reader and Writer says:

    I use ‘just’ a lot too, also ‘still’. Someone commenting on my work also pulled me up for using ‘it’ too much.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      ‘It’! Actually, someone told me I’d used ‘she/he’ too much in a piece of writing once and when I looked at it, I could see ways of deleting some of them without it sounding odd. I think some people just ‘see’ words that other people wouldn’t even notice. Can’t please everyone, can we?!

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