The following tips were generated by reviewing previous submissions to Undiscovered Voices. Overall, the judges are looking for an original story with a fresh voice.
- Submit work from a novel that is completed. Authors in the recent anthology were approached by interested agents and editors immediately after the anthology was launched. You should be prepared to send out the completed novel to editors and/or agents who request it.
Submit work from a novel that is completed.
- Submit the first chapters (and prologue if applicable) of your completed novel. Chapters other than from the beginning ask the judges to fill in too many questions. If the first chapters aren’t the most compelling, you may want to consider revising the start to your novel.
- Read your opening lines. Do they immediately grab the reader’s attention with a strong voice, intriguing mystery and/or a hint of the journey to come? Judges will read hundreds of pages, if you can hook them from the opening lines, you have a better chance of holding their attention and making your work memorable.
- The anthology endeavours to showcase a variety of genres for a range of ages. We receive few extracts from novels for young readers. We would like to highlight more original fiction for ages five to nine.
Make a young person the focal point of your story.
- Don’t preach. It’s fine to have a theme or message but it should be subtly embedded in your story. Your story should be entertaining first and foremost.
- Make a young person the focal point of your story. They should be active, make choices that affect the story and solve the problem.
- Make the topic of your story appropriate for your target age range.
- Your synopsis should be short and provide a hook. Don’t state themes. For example: ‘the story will consider the effects of global warming and demonstrate what readers can do to help’. Or ‘the story looks at the serious issue of bullying’. Statements like these may make the reader think that the theme will be too heavily handled in your story.
- Think about your ‘one-liner’. If you can sum up your story in a line that is both succinct and interesting, this will help you market your story to editors, agents and ultimately readers. If you find it difficult to summarize your story, it may be a sign that the focus of your story is unclear.
- Don’t follow the current market. Don’t write the next Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games. Be original. What’s the next trend? Take risks.
Be original… Take risks.
- Do your research. Know what’s out there. We received some fantastic fiction for the previous anthologies that was not selected because there were already books or movies that were too similar.
- Don’t submit a novel that you’ve already submitted to the judges. Editors and agents remember submissions – even ones they reject.
- Spell check and proofread your work one last time before you send it in. Ask someone you trust to read it and check for errors and inconsistencies, as you will often be too close to the words to spot problems and typos.
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