Jane and I (Morgen Bailey) announced the critique competition earlier this week and we had a query from an applicant regarding the word count of the synopsis. I confirmed that the maximum word counts are fixed (listed below) so it’s fair on everyone. I’m the administrator of this competition and any submissions received over these word counts will be disqualified… and yes, I will be checking!
- Novel beginning extract: 1,000 words maximum;
- Synopsis (including the ending): 250 words maximum;
- Author biography (third-person viewpoint): 250 words maximum;
This is the advice I gave the applicant:
I usually recommend starting with a 50- or 100-word max synopsis and work outwards, e.g. ‘From waring families, Romeo & Juliet know they can’t be together but marry in secret. The feuding escalates and confusion arises, but Juliet is offered a drug to fake her own death, with a message being sent to Romeo of the plan. A servant tells him of her ‘death’ and Romeo kills himself so he can join her. She wakes and finds him so stabs herself. Their deaths bring the families together and peace is restored.’
From an elevator pitch (imagine you have the agent to yourself and can tell him / her about your novel but only during the time it takes an elevator / lift to travel three floors) – tell us the main characters’ names (four / five maximum) and build on a few words of the plot (including the ending) from there.
- write a tagline (10 words maximum) e.g. 31 men in 31 days – what could possibly go wrong?
- Now expand your tagline to the 50-100 word elevator pitch and you may find that’s enough. The 250 words, after all, is a maximum, not a target.
- Read your submission (the synopsis, biography and novel extract) out loud. Does it make sense? Are there any errors that you may not have spotted when reading it inside your head? Now is the time to amend them, not once you’ve hit the submit button.
I blogging about pitching to agents for the lit fest blog on 22nd January, which you can read here.
As per any other competition, we can’t get into discussions about your content, but equally we want the rules to be clear and achievable. Good luck!
The details of the competition itself are on https://wannabeawritertvshow.com/chipping-norton-literature-festival-competition.