Getting My NWS Report

NWS Report

Today I got an email to say my report was ready from the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme. (Has anyone else had theirs? How was it for you?)

Eek. My stomach gave a lurch.

It honestly felt like getting exam results (maybe not quite so critical – it’s only one person’s opinion, after all, as I kept telling myself) but I knew that whatever was in that report had the power to make me feel great, or to completely ruin my day/week AND I’m in the middle of working on the novel, so it was a difficult task, to actually take the plunge and read it.

Would it be too much of a distraction? Would it plant doubts in my mind about what I’d written or what I was still planning to write? I was in a quandary. So, before I read it, I made myself spend a bit of time on the novel and then I logged in to the RNA’s website and downloaded the report.

And it was fine! Panic over. All good and positive and encouraging. There were just a few comments about one of my heroes (oh yes, I have more than one), needing to be a bit ‘nicer’ (I agree) and things like: I use too many dashes (I know!) and I use them incorrectly.

There are different kinds of dashes, it turns out. To indicate that a speaking character has been interrupted, I should be using an em dash (a long one), like this: — (it’s just taken me ages to find out where that is on the keyboard! I had to press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+- It has to be the minus sign on the numeric keypad). Am I the only person not to know this?! How come it’s taken me all these years to know this?

Then there are en dashes (a bit shorter) and hyphens but let’s leave those for now and move onto something a bit more interesting!

By the way, you never know who’s carried out the critique when you get your report back from the NWS (it will be a published author but it’s done anonymously) but it’s possible to send a thank you (which I did), via the organiser.

Reading someone’s manuscript (even if, in my case, it was ‘only’ 52,000 words), is still a lot to wade through and writing such a detailed report is a lot of work, so he/she definitely deserved a thank you.

Between The Covers

Are you watching the new BBC 2 Book Club programme, which started last Friday ‘Between The Covers’? I thought it was good.

You can catch up with it here.

Talking of books, I had a Zoom meeting tonight for Book Club #1 and tomorrow afternoon I have a Zoom meeting for Book Club #2 (they don’t usually coincide like that) and I’m only half way through the book! Which is Rose Tremain’s ‘The Road Home’, in case you’re interested.

I’ve read it before but too long ago to remember all the details. I love it but right now I’m wishing it was about 100 pages shorter.

‘Love Reading Very Short Story Award’ c/d 31st October

The Love Reading website people are running a ‘very short story’ (600 – 1000 words) competition, which is open to everyone, regardless of where they live or whether they’re published or unpublished (but the story has to be unpublished). You can send a story of any genre.

As far as I can see, it’s free to enter and there are some tasty cash prizes (£200 and £300) for the winners.

All the details are here and if you decide to have a go, good luck!

My neighbour’s tree (view from over the new wall!) Pretty, isn’t it?

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11 Responses to Getting My NWS Report

  1. Karelann says:

    Thanks for sharing that you got your report and very well done on getting your MS in on time.
    That’s something I didn’t manage myself this year. it is good to hear that you found it positive and helpful too.
    I love your blog and find it inspiring and full of good tips and truths.
    Thank you

    • Thanks for your kind word, Karelann. Last year I didn’t get my manuscript in, so I understand that sometimes it’s not possible! There’s always next year and you can submit your manuscript from about Feb, if memory serves me right. You (obviously!) don’t have to wait until August, so, as long as you renew your NWS/RNA membership, you don’t have too long to wait – so, get writing!!

      • Karelann says:

        Thanks for encouragement. Full of intention and will definitely renew NWS/RNA membership. Just starting on the structural edit of first draft, probably the post it method is more intuitive for me.

  2. pennywrite says:

    Lovely report – how good to get a nice one!
    We have a ‘borrowed’ tree. Took me ages to find out it’s a Golden Elm, and very beautiful it is too.
    And I never knew that about dashes. Learn something new every day 🙂

  3. philippabowe says:

    Hi Helen, how exciting to get your report! And nerve-wracking too…but you came out with a positive result so that’s great. And so invaluable, that sort of deep-dive critique.
    Thanks for the Love Reading tip – not limited to UK residents, yay!

  4. juliathorley says:

    Dashes and rules of various lengths cause me a lot of grief in some of my editing work, especially when I’m faced with something from an American author (don’t ask). Well done on your report, and thanks for the heads up about the comp; you had me at ‘free to enter’.

  5. Sue Cook says:

    Pleased you had a good report, Helen. I had my report back about 6 weeks ago (my hero was too nice!). I agree the reader puts in so much work. I’m just pleased I don’t have to go through it all again. I’m not sure I could stand the stress of it another year!

    • I think (hope!?) it gets easier, the more you do it! I always remember the novelist Jo Thomas telling a group of us ‘wannabees’ a couple of years ago that she went through the NWS about 8 times – and was on the verge of giving up – before she finally got her publishing deal. And now she’s written loads of books! So, keep going! That’s what I intend to do.

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