Sunday, 17 January 2016

The RNA New Writers' Scheme - What Made Me Join?


Way back in June 2014, The lovely Karen Aldous asked whether she could guest on my blog to tell my readers a bit about her experience of being on the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) New Writers' Scheme (NWS). Her blog post was so interesting that I actually published it in two parts (which you can read here and here) and it quickly became one of my most popular guest posts.

So what is the RNA NWS? Well, in a nutshell, it's a scheme set up for unpublished writers of romantic fiction. It opens in January and accepts only 250 writers (unfortunately the scheme is now full for 2016). The organiser has a team of more than 60 readers who are authors with extensive publishing histories in various types of romantic novel. After joining, members of the NWS can send their script to be read by one of the readers for a critique (something that would normally be pretty expensive).

At the time of Karen's guest post, I was in the early stages of my own writing career. I had been writing fiction for magazines for about a year and the thought of writing a novel hadn't even crossed my mind - far from it. I was happy with what I was writing... Why would I want to be doing anything different?

Strangely though, over the year, things started to change. First, I noticed that my stories were beginning to get longer and more involved. This made me wonder whether I might be able to write a serial. The People's Friend certainly thought so (in fact my editor had mentioned it a while back) so I took the plunge and wrote a five-instalment serial called Charlotte's War for them. The following year, I wrote another, Life at Babcock Manor, and it made me think that maybe I could write something even longer. A novel perhaps? 

There was a short story I'd written for Woman's Weekly which had a theme I couldn't get out of my head. Might it work as something longer? There was only one way to find out. At the end of 2014, I made a start and it was about this time that a lovely writer, Deirdre Palmer (who has also written a guest post here) invited me to meet up with some other writing friends for coffee. They were all members of the RNA and were very welcoming. Deirdre had been through the scheme and had recently got her first publishing deal, why didn't I consider joining the scheme in 2015? 

I'd made a start on my novel but it wasn't progressing very well. What I needed was something to give me that push to really get stuck into it. Could the NWS be that thing?

That October, I went with Deirdre, as a guest, to the RNA Christmas party (you can read about it here) and talked to people who had been on the scheme. Should I join? The overwhelming opinion was, Yes! It was also at that party that I met my blog guest Karen Aldous in real life! It was from her that I had first heard of the New Writers' Scheme. It seemed an omen. I should go for it.

So having already written my application email, at two minutes past midnight on the second of January 2015, I hit the send button. The following day, I was thrilled to hear that I had been accepted. You can read my super-excited post about it here).

Next week, I will tell you about my first year of being an RNA NWS member and how it has helped me with my writing career... don't miss it!

43 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy,

    I joined because - in my dealings with the RNA and the members I have got to know - I have always found the RNA so unbelievably supportive and helpful.

    Do remember, I'm very much a "stranger in a strange land" as a male would-be writer in the RNA - there ARE others, of course - the excellent Roger Sanderson and Bill Spence immediatly come to mind, but I have personally found a great deal of support and encouragement for my efforts.

    The MS Assessment scheme is SO helpful too. I can't thank my reader, whoever she is, enough. A very detailed and helpful crit.

    So I would say to ANYONE of any sex, gender or species - if you can, join the NWS if you can.

    Now its back to the editing,

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, John. To anyone reading this who hasn't already - join!

      Delete
  2. Wendy, I'm flattered you were inspired by those posts. The RNA is simply amazing for romance writers serious about getting their work published and I believe with all the hard work you have put in (magazine stories and novel) since, its not going to be too long before we see your debut novel out on the shelves. Good luck lovely xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Karen. I am so glad that you started the ball rolling as it were.

      Delete
  3. Wendy, I'm flattered you were inspired by those posts. The RNA is simply amazing for romance writers serious about getting their work published and I believe with all the hard work you have put in (magazine stories and novel) since, its not going to be too long before we see your debut novel out on the shelves. Good luck lovely xxx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post! I'd intended applying for the NWS scheme in 2014 but failed to stay away long enough on 1st January. Luckily I got a publishing deal that year anyway. The RNA is a brilliant organisation and I love being a part of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing to start off as a full member, Kath. I remember you telling me about falling asleep and missing the deadline for the NWS - good job you didn't need it in the end :)

      Delete
  5. Wendy, it is the most amazing and generous scheme. I was in for 5 years and sold the book I wrote in year 4. Having kept all the MSS it is easy to re-read and see the progress wrought by 'listening to advice'. Anne Stenhouse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many people have gone on to being published like you, Anne, Hope I'll join the list one day.

      Delete
  6. A great post, Wendy. I followed your progress on the blog and, finding out how you got on joining the scheme last year, I was spurred on to apply this year. I'm pleased to say I got my place and I'm busy trying to get my 'ms' ready to submit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliant.. I was your Karen! I'm sure you'll get a lot out of the scheme (don't miss my post next week about my first year).

      Delete
    2. No, I won't. I'm looking forward to reading it.

      Delete
  7. I too pressed the send button at two minutes past midnight on 1st January 2015. I'd stumbled across the scheme on the internet and thought it would be really helpful to have someone who knew what they were doing cast an eye over my MS. I wasn't wrong.

    I've always written novels and the novel I wrote for the scheme was the longest first draft I've ever written; I think I put everything into it. My reader's comments were very gentle and extremely helpful, as well as encouraging. I'm still working through them, as I want the MS to be really good when it goes back this year. My writing mantra now is 'pacing'.
    April Munday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its always a difficult decision whether to resubmit the original novel in year two or get on with the next.

      Delete
  8. Well done for getting onto the scheme, Wendy. I look forward to hearing how you get on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Got on, Patsy! I've been in the scheme for a year now :)

      Delete
  9. Good luck Wendy, I'm sure you'll do them proud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope so, Lindsay. I feel like the first year on the NWS has been an apprenticeship.

      Delete
  10. What an interesting journey. I love how you've let your career simply unfold naturally and taken chances when they've presented themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the best way to do it I think, Julia.

      Delete
  11. When I first joined the RNA you only had three years on the NWS before you had to leave. Luckily it was changed as it took me eleven years to get there. I am an example of 'never give up '

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha - yes you are! And we're really glad too :)

      Delete
  12. Fascinating journey, Wendy. My journey started the other way round - with my novel. And I found when doing a short story course, my tutor told me on a couple of occasions that I should put my short stories in a draw - they are novels not shorts. So I had to learn the art of capturing moments in time and not getting carried away with complicated plots. Now, I feel it is super cool to have the skills to do both short pieces and novel length stories and I enjoy writing both very much. Great post, Wendy. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It does seem to be an excellent scheme...for the support if nothing else. Shame we histfic writers have nothing similar!Good luck!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, yes. Maybe you should start something :)

      Delete
  14. Exciting. I've been accepted into this year's NWS and I can't wait to get going. Thanks for this very timely and interesting blog!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Having lived though the year with you I'm looking forward to the next instalment, Wendy. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you've celebrated the highs and suffered the lows with me, Tracy!

      Delete
  16. Thanks for this post. I've been accepted to the NWS this year and your blog was one of the ones I read when I was researching the benefits of the scheme! I'm really looking forward to reading your next post about your first year experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad the original post helped you make that very good decision, Tammy.

      Delete
  17. It's a terrific scheme, Wendy, which has provided support to so many writers. Who knows, one day when you are an established author, maybe you'll be one of the writers who generously give their time and expertise to help others along!

    ReplyDelete
  18. It's a brilliant scheme. I was shortlisted in my year and it helped me get an agent and a publisher. That early support from the RNA really helped me launch my career.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly there are no short listings now, Helen... ir second readings :(

      Delete
  19. I agree with everything that's been said, Wendy. It was also RNA friends who recommended I join the NWS and it's been the best piece of writing advice I've received. The camaraderie and joy shared in encouraging each other is wonderful. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's such a fantastic scheme, Wendy. I never looked back after joining and having the first book that received a critique eventually being published.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll keep my fingers crossed that happens to me too, Rosemary.

      Delete
  21. What a fabulous opportunity, and such a good idea. Shame other genres don't do something similar, or perhaps they do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure, Maria. Maybe someone can tell us of they do.

      Delete
  22. Great post as always. The RNA is truly a fantastic group, incredibly supportive and encouraging. Looking forward to reading the next installment...

    ReplyDelete