In our first guest blog by past finalists, Sarah Merrett (UV2018), whose extract was called The Darlington Miracles, talks about how being short-listed opened doors for her and shares tips to get your extract in shape before you’re ready to submit.
Preparing your UV submission: things to ask yourself
So, you’re thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices 2020. Should you go for it? Most definitely. It was the best decision I ever made for my writing career. Becoming a winning finalist in 2018 was the stuff of dreams. It really opened doors for me. I had agents asking to see my book without even sending out a query. Lots of agents. I was lucky enough to be offered representation from my dream agency before the UV launch party had even started. I still pinch myself sometimes.
I hope that’s tempted you into giving this a go. After all, you have nothing to lose. So what now? How do you prepare your submission to make it the best it can possibly be? Here are a few questions you might like to ask yourself:
Your first line
- Is your first line attention grabbing enough? Does it entice your reader by posing a question such as why, what or how?
- Analyse the opening lines of some successful children’s books. Why are they strong? How do they lure you in?
Your opening scene
- Could your opening scene be improved by adding more drama, excitement or mystery?
- Have you shown the unique and interesting aspect of your main character?
- What’s at stake for the main character if they don’t achieve their goal?
- Have you portrayed strong emotions?
Your first chapter
- By the end of chapter one, what has happened to lure your reader into the next chapter?
- Have you ended with a strong enough hook or cliffhanger?
- Have enough story events happened in your extract?
- Are things moving along quickly enough?
- Where have you ended your extract? Is this stopping point the best place in order to leave your reader wanting more?
- What makes your story different to others in the same genre?
- You don’t need to summarise the entire plot of your book. Give a sense of the story and its genre, what’s special about it, and give an intriguing hook
- Edit, edit, and edit again
- Put your story away for as long as you can bear, then read it with fresh eyes. Weak areas should become much clearer after a break
- Proofread, and if possible, get someone else to proofread too
- Submit and give yourself a well-earned treat
- Try not to stew over the outcome. Why not start your next story? It’s a great way to set aside your emotions for your competition entry
Very best of luck!