Wannabe a Writer?

The Wannabe a Writer? Novel-Writing Competition 2007

Wannabe a Writer?

Novel-Writing Competition

Sponsored by Writers' Holiday and the Teresa Chris Literary Agency Ltd.

Closing Date 31st December 2007

Judging Panel includes:

  • Jane Wenham-Jones
  • Literary agent Teresa Chris
  • Best-selling novelist Mil Millington

Write the opening pages of a novel and win a five day writing course at Writers' Holiday in Caerleon, Wales, worth over £380, including a one-to-one tutorial with Jane Wenham-Jones plus publication on the Wannabe a Writer? website and a chance to submit your full manuscript to a top literary agent.

We have a winner!
Penelope Jane Randall for The Music House

Penelope wins a writing course at Writers' Holiday including a tutorial with Jane Wenham-Jones and advice from Teresa Chris, literary agent.

What the judges said:

Jane Wenham-Jones – author of Wannabe a Writer?

It took a while to reach a decision as the entries varied hugely in subject and genre and all had different merits for me. But after reading and re-reading we all agreed on The Music House as a clear winner – it was beautifully written, had mystery and atmosphere and we all wanted to know what was going to happen next. In other words it ticked ALL the boxes. Well done Penelope Jane!

Mil Millington, novelist and journalist

"For me, it always comes down to the writing; and in The Music House it's intelligent, well-crafted and seductive. I could pick out specific aspects, but it's the overall effect that matters. The overall effect was that the writing didn't simply convey information effectively: it sang to me."

Mil's fourth novel, Instructions For Living Someone Else's Life (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) is published in July.

Teresa Chris, Literary Agent

An opening with a real hook, which is intriguing and demonstrates a fine quality of observation. The author of The Music House has set up the opening well, considering the five Ws – Who, what, where, why when – and doing so in her own original voice. The more I read this, the better it gets...

Teresa will be reading and advising on Penelope Jane's full manuscript. All the short-listed authors are also invited to submit their manuscripts to Teresa once they are completed.

The Wannabe a Writer? Novel Writing Competition announces —

Discussions continue among the judges but we've narrowed it down a little further. Here is the shorter-short list. Final winner to be posted here by 30th April! Still in the running are:

(there is no significance to the order)

Congratulations to all, commiserations to those who haven't made it this far. And as before, views and comments on the entries are welcomed on the message board in the Members Area!

The Short List

In no particular order... Please click on title to read the shortlisted entries...

Longlisted Entries

  • Bald Patches by Fran Hill
  • As Chance Would Have It by Sheila Bugler
  • Shades of Grey by Elizabeth Ingram
  • Comedy of Terriers by Julia Mutlow
  • My Little Brother, My Little Life by Dee Gordon
  • The Love Coach by Gill Chambers
  • The Corpse Cuckoo by David Ockenden
  • Skin Deep by Liz Smith
  • Us Against the Normals by Amy Bell
  • My Dad's a Drag by Linda Flynn
  • Dark Road by Chris Curran
  • Pear Shaped by Kirsty Greenwood
  • The BriXfactor by Julie Day
  • Charity Girl by Alison Burke
  • The Minister and the Spaniard's Wife by Robert Ronsson
  • The Music House by Penelope Jane Randall
  • Entry removed at author's request.
  • Tell it to the Stars by Joe Padfield
  • Green Glass Beads by Chris Tally Evans
  • Shanti Bloody Shanti by Aaron Smith
  • Time, Tide and Sadie Taylor by Kathryn Lester
  • Willing Slave by Wendy Hall
  • It's Not in the Script by Jan Maltby
  • Free Time by Sue Smith
  • Sweet Fellowship by Anne. L. Harvey

Judge's Report

After the Accent Press reading team had been through nearly 200 entries, judge Jane Wenham-Jones was given a long-list of 25 novel extracts from which to draw up a short-list. Here, she explains how she did it...

The twenty-five novel extracts on the long list were pretty diverse in terms of genre and subject matter (which was most welcome – I once judged a short-story competition in which almost every tale revolved around someone coming to a grisly end) and I enjoyed reading them very much. I was looking for an opening extract that would engage me from the start, good writing, believable characters, a sense of a story that was going somewhere.

What becomes difficult is to choose one of these aspects over another. For example, do I choose the tale with the great writing, even though it reads far more like a short story than a novel (a weakness of many of the entries) or go for the characters that have stayed in my mind the longest and moved me the most, even though the dialogue left an awful lot to be desired?

Since the judging of any competition is bound to be highly subjective, I enlisted the help of three other readers too – each a book-lover and published writer themselves – and without telling them any of my own thoughts, simply asked them to read all the long-listed entries and then give me the reference numbers of the ones that had appealed to them most.

Each one of these short-listed entries was selected by me and at least one other of the judging team. Some extracts got three votes while others got none at all. It was fascinating to see how opinions varied. There is one entry on the short-list that not one of my three colleagues fancied but I have included it because I feel so strongly about its merits. I tell you all this in the hope that it will be some comfort if you weren't picked for the long-list, or were, but have not made it to this final stage. It IS a subjective business after all, and just because your novel didn't catch our eye it doesn't mean it won't get published by someone else and hit the best-seller lists. Do send me a copy if that happens. And feel very free to write in it: "I told you so!"

Thanks so much to everyone for entering. Congratulations to the eight short-listed writers and commiserations to the other entrants. May I wish you all Happy Writing and better luck next time.


Message from Hazel Cushion, MD, Accent Press.

We were so delighted with the high standard of entries that the longlist reached 25. Many thanks to everyone who took part and may I offer my best wishes to all the long-listers. The shortlist was selected by Jane Wenham-Jones and a final winner, chosen by Jane, novelist Mil Millington and literary agent, Teresa Chris, will be announced by 30th April.

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