As we reach the end of the entry period, applications for Northern Writers’ Awards 2018 are coming in thick and fast. We asked Will Mackie, New Writing North’s Senior Programme Manager (Writing and Awards) for his advice for those who are still finessing their application.

Think about the award that works for you

We offer several awards strands to allow us to support as many writers as we can and we recognise that writers face challenges and barriers throughout their careers. You should read each category we offer and choose carefully, based on how you identify your own position as a writer and what you’d like to get out of the award should you win.

Read the Eligibility and Conditions of Entry

Apologies for being so fastidious but there are essential criteria for entering our awards that you need to familiarise yourselves with before you enter. These criteria vary so make sure to follow the correct link from the ‘Enter’ page for the strand you’re interested in. There’s also a useful FAQ page intended to provide answers for anything else you’re not certain of, but if you’re still in doubt you can always email us and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Don’t let the synopsis get you down

The synopsis is an important part of your application. It gives context to your extract and shows that you’ve identified the key elements of your story and know where it’s headed. If you’re worried about the synopsis then you’re not the only one. It’s incredibly common to labour over this agonising enterprise and no one enjoys it – squashing your expansive genre-hopping futurist masterpiece into a few hundred words isn’t easy. Remember that your synopsis is merely a functional thing, not a work of art. The key part of your application is your extract – we want to see how well you write and won’t be judging you on how well you write about what you write.

Tinker and then stop

Before you submit, it’s always a good idea to look at your submission one last time. A detached quick read can often identify things that you might have missed before: repetition of the same word in a single sentence, for example, which can antagonise your reader, or the overuse of a favoured phrase. Also, have another look at your character names. You might find that they’re not distinct enough from each other or that you’re suddenly aware that they don’t seem appropriate for the time and place you’re writing about. If your writing has excessive baggage then don’t hold back from cutting – if it’s drifting for you, it’s going to drift for your reader. But don’t tinker indefinitely or you’ll end up missing the deadline and remember: once it’s gone, that’s it. If you wake in the middle of the night remembering that comma you’d meant to take out is still hanging around then try not to worry about it (probably, no one will ever notice anyway).

The Northern Writers’ Awards close Thursday 1 February 2018.
You can find out more about the awards, the categories available and how to enter at northernwritersawards.com.