Here’s where we’ll talk about novels and writing novels. We’ll also link to relevant articles and first novel competitions that could help motivate you to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) and get writing that masterpiece that is just waiting to emerge.
NewWriters.org.uk Articles About Novels and/or Novel Writing
How to Write a Novel – Okay, so you want to write a novel? Where do you start, how do you find the motivation, and how do you know if you have the talent and – importantly – willpower? Our article covers all this and more.
Best-Selling Novels Ever – Of course, everyone wants to write a best-seller. But which are the novels that have sold in their hundreds of millions? (Hint: they are not all about wizards.)
Best First Lines of Novels – You can’t write any book without a first line. And that first line has to be good. Very good. But which are the best first lines of novels ever written?
Best Writing Competitions for Novels
There are numerous writing competitions out there for budding novelists. We’re not talking about the Booker Prize or similarly prestigious awards aimed at published authors. Rather we’re looking at the novel contests aimed at aspiring authors or those who are yet to publish their books.
We keep a regularly updated list of novel competitions, but here we’ll list some of the (usually annual) novel competitions that are well worth entering. If you win one of these, or even make the shortlist, it can be a brilliant way to attract the attention of a potential agent or publisher.
- Bridport Prize – Officially known as The Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award, the Bridport Prize has a deadline of 31st May each year and has a very nice top prize of £1,500 (as of 2023). But more than the cash, winning the Bridport carries a level of prestige that is sure to impress any agent you intend to contact. The Bridport tends to have some big-name judges from the literary world,
- Bath Novel Award – Perhaps not considered quite as impressive as the Bridport, but still very highly regarded, the Bath Novel Award has an impressive top prize of £3,000. They also run a Children’s Novel Award.
- BPA First Novel Award – Run by the Blue Pencil Agency (a literary consultancy who offer various editorial services to authors), the BPA First Novel Award is another that is well worth winning – however, it doesn’t offer a big cash prize like those above. Instead, up to 10 winners get the chance to pitch their novel to a named literary agent (in 2023 it was Millie Hoskins from United Agents). If that goes well, you could save a lot of time and hassle as you bypass the slush piles. Of course, there’s no guarantee the agent in question will represent any of the winners, but it’s a decent opportunity all the same.
- The Caledonia Novel Award – The Edinburgh-based Caledonia Novel Award is another with a decent cash prize (£1,500) and another that tends to be judged by a well-regarded literary agent (and it’s always good to impress them if you are serious about publishing your book!).
- Grindstone Literary International Novel Prize – Another with a top prize of £1,500, but the Grindstone offers another – potentially game-changing – prize: all longlisted and winning pieces will be forwarded directly to their full list of 50+ affiliated agents. Again, there are no guarantees any of them will like any of the entries enough to start representing the author in question, but it certainly gives you a foot in the door.
Books to Help Aspiring Novelists
There are numerous books out that that can assist people who want to write fiction. Many of them are covered in our article, Best Books For New And Aspiring Writers, though we feel there are some that are particularly suited to those attempting to write (and edit) novels. Here are our favourites:
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – Now a classic when it comes to books about writing for writers, there’s no doubt Stephen King has the experience (and book sales!) to suggest he knows what he’s doing.
- How to Write Like Tolstoy: A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers by Richard Cohen – Delving deeply into how some of literature’s greats have crafted their stories, this is a brilliant book that could inspire you to write a truly great novel.
- The Science of Storytelling: Why Stories Make Us Human, and How to Tell Them Better by Will Storr – This is a book that will appeal to writers who want to understand why certain stories – or mechanisms within stories – appeal to so many people. Interesting, informative and inspiring, Storr’s book can open your eyes to the science of storytelling and help you apply it to your writing.
You can any of these books, plus many others we recommend, from Bookshop.org, which supports independent bookshops. Note that if you click through the link and purchased anything, Bookshop.org will give us a small payment, which we’ll put towards the running of our site and future writing competitions.