Alexandra Page was the #WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award winner for 2019.
We chatted to her after winning here.
Below, she gives her best advice to those hoping to enter this year and become the 2020 winner. Full details of the 2020 award here.
Things to do
Focus on formatting your story so it looks as professional as possible. Make that first glimpse of your manuscript shout ‘polished!’ instead of ‘just written’.
Things to avoid
It’s often said that you’re brave for entering a competition, but I think it can take guts to choose not to, until you’re ready. So don’t feel guilty or cowardly for holding back. If you wait and give your story the best chance possible by completing it and/or editing it until your nose bleeds, you’re almost certain to rise up the ranks of entries. Next year will roll around before you know it and there’s always another opportunity on the horizon. But if you do just want to test the waters with a shiny new idea, have an open mind and be prepared to receive constructive feedback – that’s partly what makes this competition so great!
For opening lines, the best advice I ever read was ‘…openers create curiosity by describing specific moments of change. But they also hint darkly at threatening change to come.’ (Will Storr, The Science of Storytelling).
Own experience of this and other awards
I have been extraordinarily lucky this year, which I’m sure will be a once in a lifetime thing! Writing to deadlines for the first time, trying to complete tortuous edits, having agent talks, has been really exciting as well as stressful. Winning and even being listed for WMCNA has been a life changer for me, and taught me huge amounts at the same time.
Any other good advice
Don’t lose hope. Believe in your stories, even if you don’t believe in yourself at times. Find a bunch of cheerleaders to egg you on – through WriteMentor, a critique group, social media, family and friends. And to whomever is reading this and planning on entering WMCNA 2020, I wish you all the luck in the world!
I was lucky to grow up between two worlds: with my dad in London, mostly tucked up with a book in the Barbican library; and with my mum and sister in Zimbabwe, running barefoot and developing a life-long terror of spiders. After studying English Literature at UCL I worked for several years at Penguin, Puffin and Walker Books in their production departments, before embarking upon a career in project management. A small plaque outside the famous Lloyd’s of London building: “Penny Post founded here” first gave me the idea for Wishyouwas. When I’m not squirrelled away writing, I love exploring far-flung places with my husband and daughter and spend much time in my adopted second home, Budapest.