Who, what, why?
The Changing Face of Writer Development
Over the past twenty years, there has been a revolution in publishing. Writers come from a wider range of backgrounds, self-publishing has opened the field, more people are pursuing their dream. Yet despite all the changes, a few essential elements remain.
Writers don’t just arrive fully formed, they grow and develop, they seek input, gain experience, suck up every bit of advice they can get.
When I was starting out, I was lucky enough to be nurtured me through the process of writing my first novel. My agent had worked within the publishing industry for many years and her method was to read the manuscript at various stages and make comments, some contextual, some editorial. She also threw in a lot of questions.
Later, when I began working for a literary consultancy I adapted what I had learned to fit the appraisal format. When clients began to ask for a little more direct input, it made perfect sense. I set up Adventures in Fiction with one client who went on to become very successful. Soon I was taking on mentors who shared my ethos. We don’t keep aspiring writers at arm’s length, we are happy to talk openly.
In 2005, we launched Apprenticeships in Fiction with funding from Arts Council England. A major innovation, this was the first mentoring scheme in the UK. Soon other organizations were offering copy-cat programmes though the Apprenticeships remains the only one specifically designed around the requirements of the novel.
Since then the creative writing industry has exploded. Everyone wants to write, every city in the country has an MA. The range of courses, retreats, conferences and appraisal services is mind-boggling.
Why choose us?
We don’t make false promises—we offer a truthful assessment of your work from a writer in the same field. The most useful thing we can provide is a sense of context, to give you an indication of your current stage and what you need to be aiming for. Our clients cover a wide range, from those already published, to writers starting out, to writers who may have completed a Creative Writing MA yet never had a complete reading of their manuscript. (MA’s use the workshop model, focusing on short extracts only.)
After more than a decade with Adventures in Fiction, I know the industry from both sides. I have worked with agents as part of the scheme and in workshops: I know what they are looking for. I also know that writers often start off with a raw idea, a passion, with a subjective approach. We aim to marry the two, to offer a framework that will enable writers to move forwards.
These days, a successful outcome can mean a number of things—a mainstream commercial publisher, a small independent press, a self-published novel, a unique, one-off publication written by a father for his small son. So what, if any, is the uniting factor? A quest for excellence, a passion for literature—your desire to make your manuscript the best it can possibly be. Writing is tough, whether you are a first timer or embarking on your fourth or fifth or sixth novel.
We regularly work with industry professionals. Past participants in workshops or as part of the Apprenticeship scheme include: Laura Longrigg from MBA Literary Agency, Clare Conville from Conville Walsh, Rupert Heath Associates, Stephanie Glencross from Jane Gregory Associates and Hannah Westland, from Rogers, Coleridge, White, Anna Power and Ed Wilson from Johnson & Alcock and the Christine Green Agency.
We also have personal links with key agencies including A.M. Heath, the Caroline Sheldon Agency, Rogers Coleridge White and Andrew Nurnberg Associates.
Literary agents also regularly approach us.
“Most of all writing is about process.
No sooner do you reach the top of the mountain, than you glimpse yet another peak. It’s the most frustrating, and exhilarating pursuit there is.
Nothing can beat it, nobody can show you how, but like any journey, it’s a good idea to seek out someone who’s climbed that particular path before.
A good mentor or guide can point you in the right direction, help cut out some of the uncertainty and save you a lot of time.”