It's part of being a writer, but not the nice part: your heart is stapled to your pages, and someone who might have said that they love it and want to publish it, has just said, "Sorry, I'll pass". And sometimes only other writers know what you're on about. How can you be happy about a rejection? Well, you can if it's the first time an editor or agent has said, "Sorry, I'll pass on this one but you do X and Y and Z very well; I'd be happy to see whatever you write next."
So WriteWords can help, advise, support you at every stage. The Directory is a great place to research places to send your work. It can't help you get it published or produced, but it can minimise the chance of you wasting time and money sending it somewhere totally unsuitable.
There's years of advice and discussion in the Getting Published Forum from experienced writers: get stuck in, join in the conversation, or start a new thread to ask or give advice. Current topics include which networking sites are likely to be the most useful to launch a novel, one agent's initiative in publishing his authors out-of-print backlists, and experience of Curtis Brown's new online submission system.
In the goldmine which is the archive of WriteWords Interviews, you'll find words of wisdom from professional playwrights and authors, directors, agents, editors, poets, script consultants, the BBC Writers Room and hundreds more. There's even a collated list of the most common interview questions and answers, for example What are the typical/common mistakes that new writers make? and How did you get your first agent/commission? and dozens of others. And the group forums are, of course, the place to go for specific support and help in your form or genre.
And, finally, new full members are often baffled by talk of the WriteWords Boar, who fossicks in the sunlit shallows of the Private Members Forum. Who is this venerable, capricious creature? Well, it's a long story, but here goes.
Once upon a time, and many years ago, a WriteWorder suggested that there should be a group thread for everyone who has work out on submission, either directly or via an agent. These suffering souls find it very hard to concentrate on anything, so anxiously do they stare at the horizon, watching for a flare or signs of a rescue ship.
And so the Lifeboat Thread was born - "lifeboat thread" as in "life hanging by a thread". Cries of agony or boredom are all welcome; group support is constant; ship's biscuit and sun-cream are shared around. Those who aren't - at the moment - suffering sail up alongside constantly, and lob in fresh supplies of chocolate and sympathy.
Two or three such threads - and probably several hundred submissions - later, someone started a new thread, and a slip of a finger created the Lifeboar. The general consensus is that he looks a bit like Boris Johnson, and alternates between splashing around in the lagoon and galloping through the tropical forest with WriteWorders clingling desperately to his bristly back.
Some of the WriterWords short fictioneers are almost permanently on the Lifeboar. Some of the novelists only clamber on every few years. All find that it helps immensely to clamber on, find that there are friends there, and settle down for that unknown period which we all know as Waiting To Hear. Especially when someone passes you the bottle of virtual rum.
Even in these straitened times, there are opportunities everywhere for writers, and WriteWords can help you find them.
And it's not just about winning a prize or getting published or performed. For any writer, the challenge of a different form or audience can teach you things you'd never have learnt - or not learnt so well - while still ploughing your usual furrow. Even if you don't think of yourself as a playwright, trying to writing drama is brilliantly good for prose writers. It's not just good training for writing dialogue in fiction and creative non-fiction. It's also that it's very good for you to have to try to convey what characters are thinking purely by what they say, and their physical movement. Writing for teens is a terrific discipline which concentrates any writer's mind on making their story move forward for readers with few preconceptions and prejudices and every desire to explore the world around them - and beyond them.
For example, Bristol Old Vic have announed a new, annual open-window for new theatre scripts by writers based in South West England. Bristol Old Vic "are excited by plays that are distinct and theatrical, with live staging at their heart. They're attracted by stories that ask questions and tell us something about being alive today, plays that in some way have relevance to our own lives and consider their audience. The best way to get a sense of the plays that get them going is to read the plays they've previously produced in the past." The deadline is the 30th June, and there are more details here.
Bloomsbury Spark is "a one-of-a-kind, global, digital imprint from Bloomsbury Publishing dedicated to publishing a wide array of exciting fiction eBooks to teen, YA and new adult readers." They're looking for manuscripts between 25k and 60k which are right for this challenging, exciting audience, so see here for more details.
Salt Publishing are actively seeking full-length novels for adults. They have a particular interest at the moment in literary fiction, crime, fantasy and the delightfully named "Norfolk Gothic." Seen any vampires down at Cromer? More details here.
So why not give some of these a go, or some of the others? And keep an eye on the ever-updated "Deadline Approaching" panel on the main Jobs & Opps page. Who knows? You could just slip in under the wire.
And you've want to write something for one of these, or have something already which could be developed to suit, don't forget that the WriteWords groups are ideal for getting feedback, on either of these. Your own group is the ideal place to get feedback in a detailed, supportive atmosphere from writers who know your work; and the perfect people to help you summon up the courage to actually click Send.
The general forum is a great place to ask questions and get help with the whole business of entering competitions, applying for jobs and generally getting to grips with sending your work out into the big wide world in search of a home.
And if you're a full member, the Private Members and Lounge forums are the place to ask for advice privately from some of the most informed and experienced members around.
The hot topic in the Forum today is the discussion between Sarah Dunant and Fay Weldon, which was triggered by writer Claire Messaud's reaction to a comment by a reader who said she could never be friends with the heroine of Messaud's novel.
Why can heroes can be unlikeable, but heroines not?
"Women are just as responsible for making unlikeable heroines taboo as men are. In fact probably more so. If you aren't nice you don't get to play/network with the other little girls," says Jaytee Connor
"Nowadays people want feisty women but, yes, it does appear that readers often want to empathise with these women in a way they don't need to with men," says Sharley
"Anyone who thinks that heroines aren't allowed to be unlikeable should read some of Terry Pratchett's work. There are a number of female characters in his novels, many of whom count as the heroines of the stories they appear in, who, while being admirable in many ways, certainly don't come across as particularly likeable. I don't think I would find Granny Weatherwax particularly easy to befriend, for example," says AlexHazel, but adds, " Women's flaws are definitely constrained within much tighter parameters than men's."
What do you think? Click here to join in the conversation.
On WriteWords, much of the critiquing and discussion of writing goes on in the groups.
In your group you can get feedback on your work from writers you've got to know and trust. You can learn to read any work, including your own, like a writer. You can swap tips for submitting work and doing research, share information about publishers and agents, and get help with a recalcitrant sentence or a fantastic but daunting idea for a story.
And your group is there when you want support from writing friends for those low moments, and people to join in your Yay! for the good times. Or you can just kick back and shoot the breeze with people who love talking about books and writing, and know just what you mean by "backstory", "omniscient narrator", "encouraging rejection" and "two-book deal".
Whether you're trying to Write for Children, or playing with Flash Poetry, whether you're seeking a manuscript swap in Whole MS Read-Swapping or thinking about self-publishing, there's a group for you.
And if you think there's a group which would be just what you want or need, but it isn't on WriteWords yet, all you have to do is go to the WriteWords Groups page, and propose it . When four people like the idea, the group goes live. The current proposals are these:
Sitcom - Scripts, Ideas, Submissions Will do just what it says on the tin, and only needs one more member to go live.
Not Quite Purple - is all about getting out the microscope and polishing your prose.
Eros and Cupid - is all about working with writing about love and sex
Sports Journalism - is another one which wil do just what it says on the tin
So if any of those sound right for you, click here to jump in!
The WriteWords site has so many different parts: which can help you with your writing today?
In Jobs & Opps the Shade of Loud Short Story Competition is offering a prize of £250 for a story on the theme "Far from the Madding Crowd"; the deadline's 1st of September, so if you start now you'll have plenty of time to get feedback from a WriteWords group.
In the Childrens' Writers Group LorraineC is discussing an editor's report on her novel with the rest of the group. Most of them have read it, some of them haven't, all of them write for children, so there are all sorts of perspectives available to help Lorraine decide what to do next.
In the Main Forum WWer Freebird is wondering whether she should post a review of a debut novel online, when a lot of what she would have to say is negative. Do we owe more of a duty to readers - to warn them off - or fellow writers who deserve support even when (perhaps particularly when) they're not doing so well just at the moment?
Since writers care more than most that their writing should say exactly what they're trying to say, the WriteWords gnomes are hammering away in the bowels of the site to bring an edit facility to posts: just the job for fixing those typos that slip through your fingers and onto the screen when the conversation is galloping ahead.
Don't forget you've only got ten days to enter WriteWords Site Expert EmmaD's competition to win a year's free full membership of WriteWords itself, as well as a writer's retreat (complete with wifi so you can stay in touch if you want to!) and other prizes.
The forums are busy as ever this week:
In the Technique forum WriteWorder debac is asking about changing characters' names in later drafts. Should you? What problems might it cause? Are you right to think it needs doing? There's a link, too, to a discussion in the Private Members forum, which is for Full Members only, about whether you should worry if two characters' names are rather similar.
In the Entertainment forum, one of WriteWords' best-known and loved film reviewers, Zettel, has had his say on Star Trek Into Darkness, which, as ever, has sparked a lively discussion. How do you keep a long-running franchise fresh, and draw in new audiences, while continuing to please those who fell in love with it on black-and-white TV, and half-wish it would stay that way?
Submissions to publishers and agents are a perennial source of discussion - and not a little angst. The balance is slowly tipping towards electronic submission, and one of the major agencies, Curtis Brown, has a new, online system. Have you used it? Do you have any feedback? All experiences welcome in the discussion here in the Getting Published forum.
PS Don't forget you can have more than one chance of winning a year's full membership of WriteWords, and other prizes, by entering WW Site Expert Emma Darwin's blog competition here, because multiple submissions are allowed!
WriteWords Site Expert Emma Darwin is running a competition on her blog, This Itch of Writing, to celebrate the 500th post.
Emma has been a member of WriteWords since before her first novel, The Mathematics of Love, was published, and may of her posts started from topics that cropped up on the WriteWords forums. This Itch of Writing's resident agony aunt, Jerusha Cowless, often answers cries for help that had their origins here too, and the blog has become a much-valued source of support, encouragment and help with the craft of writing.
By entering the compeition you could win a year's free full membership of WriteWords, a writer's retreat, and other prizes, and have your post published on the blog.
More details here.
Closing date Friday May 31st.
Now we're getting towards May, all sorts of buds and blossoms are sprouting in the writing world for writers to gather:
Fancy spending a month, all expenses paid, in the Ettrick Valley, in memory of the Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner? The Ettrick and Yarrow Development Project have secured funding for a James Hogg Creative residency to be based in the upper Ettrick Valley, near Selkirk, between July and September this year.
The 2013 Nick Darke Award, made in memory of the playwright, is open, offering a prize of £6000 to a the writer of a script for radio, TV or film on an environmental theme - the theme being widely interpreted.
The Winchester Writers' Conference 2013 runs from Friday 21st June to Tuesday 25th June, and bookings are open. Join editors, agents, authors and your fellow writers to make the most of workshops, courses, one to ones, and all the networking that happens over drinks, food, or just sitting in the sun.
And finally, quickly, the Jobs & Opps page always lists the deadlines that are fast approaching: today, you've got one more day to get your short story into the Momaya Short Story Competition 2013. Go on, have a dig through your drawer: you've got a few hours to polish it...
"Technique" is such a dry-sounding word for a vital part of writing, but it can be baffling, as you try to cope with all the rules of writing which proliferate on the net. Fortunately, there's a lot of knowledge, experience, and good old commonse to be found in the WriteWords Forums:
So can it really be true that you shouldn't use semi-colons in fiction? WriteWords debates this particular "rule" in the Technique Forum.
When should you "lie" in historical fiction, or any fiction which is rooted in facts but also springing out of them and away? And what's going on when you make those decisions? This thread in the Ethical Issues Forum has a link to a recent panel discussion at the Historical Novel Society Conference 2012.
How do you deal with "tonight" in a past tense narrative?
How do you write out dates on a poster?
And if you've ever been annoyed by a book snob - or felt pleased or embarrassed to realise you are one - then Matt Haig's repentance will resonate.
It's all changing so fast and, as ever, the WriteWords forums are buzzing with it.
Would you accept a Royalties-only Contract?
What's going on with refunds for e-books, if you don't like what you've read... What does this mean for writers?
Should/could/would an agent take on clients in order to help them self-publish?
Are most of the ways people tell you to should promote yourself as an author completely pointless?
In Private Members, which is the Members Only forum for talk about writing and the writing world,
they're discussing Pinterest as both a promotional tool, and a way to develop new work
and WWer Katarina, who specialises in short fiction for the women's magazine market, is celebrating the launch of her blog and linking to an interview she gave on someone else's blog
while in The Lounge, which is the Members Only forum for talk about absolutely everything except writing (although of course most WWers are writers to the core, and find it hard not to let it creep in)
WWer Catkin has been gliding
and a thread about the glorious disasters of layout that magazines and newspapers have made over the years - which is guaranteed to make you feel better about the typo you spotted just after you emailed your manuscript to that oh-so-interested agent.
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