Becoming a writer - QuoScript

NaNoWriMo Challenge

National Novel Writing Month: the QuoScript Challenge

November is well-established as National Novel Writing Month (‘NaNoWriMo’).  It attracts much interest on social media, where you can also find many tips and tools to help you.  The idea is that you plan to complete a novel in a month, prepare your outline, divide the work required into thirty chunks, one for each day of the month, and – hey presto! – have your masterpiece ready to spring upon an unsuspecting but delighted world by the end of November.   November was originally chosen for NaNoWriMo because it is a drab month in which nothing much seems to happen – and at QuoScript we think that this year even more authors than usual will want to foster their inspiration in an often dispiriting world.  So we’re launching the QuoScript NaNoWriMo Challenge!

NaNoWriMo has two virtues that make it appeal to us: firstly, anything that can help authors to instil into themselves a daily writing discipline has to be good; secondly, some excellent novels, particularly first novels, have been triggered by NaNoWriMo competitions. And QuoScript is certainly looking for some high-quality Young Adult and Crime fiction to publish in 2021!

Although some authors have managed to complete a whole book within the month those authors are in the minority. Most authors struggle to find time to write regularly, particularly if you are also holding down a job; and quite frankly we don’t necessarily think you should try – we want you to aim for quality rather than quantity! Setting yourself a daily target is good discipline.  Realistically, you are also going to need to take some days off; so we suggest that you set yourself a weekly writing target of 5,000 words.

If you feel inspired and energised by this, we suggest you should start preparing the outline of your novel now and complete it before the end of October.  This will give you a bit of head start.

Below we describe the QuoScript NaNoWriMo challenge in detail.

The QuoScript NaNoWriMo Challenge

Provided the entries are of the required standard, two authors will receive a publication contract. Our aim is to publish at least one novel from the Young Adult category and one from the Crime fiction category.

Two runners-up in each category will be offered additional advice and support on how to making their writing more publishable.  This will take the form of a telephone “author surgery” call.

All registrants will receive a preliminary feedback on the 10,000 words submitted. This will consist of an e-mail containing some bullet points offering a short critique.

We hope that the QuoScript NaNoWriMo challenge inspires you to start writing.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Registration and Submission Fee

  • You will need to register for the competition, preferably on or before 29th November 2020.
  • You can do this by emailing us at books@quoscript.co.uk us to say you wish to enter for either the Crime or Young Adult category.
  • Please include your contact details and telephone number in your email.
  • We will then advise you on how to pay your submission fee of £30.  Please be aware that we have kept the submission fee as low as possible and the fee is to cover administration costs only. The admission fee is for entry into the challenge only and all registrants will receive preliminary feedback on their submission.  Registration and submission is not a guarantee of publication by QuoScript. Submission fees are non-refundable.
  • We will accept the first 30 registrations we receive from Young Adult authors and the first 30 registrations from Crime fiction authors. If we have not reached capacity by 16th November 2020, we will continue to accept registrations in November.
  • When we have reached submission capacity, we will post a notice on our website and social media platforms.

Getting Started

  • Each week in November, choose your five writing days. Plan to start writing on 2nd November.
  • Aim to write 1,000 words on each of these days, revising each day’s writing the following day before you start on your next 1,000 words, and so on, until by 28th November you have written 20,000 words. 
  • Keep 30th November free to revise all you have written again and prepare a synopsis of the whole novel (including the chapters you have yet to write).  If you’re a YA author, you should be planning a novel of around 50,000 words; if you’re a crime writer, a novel of 80,000 – 90,000 words (though we may also accept crime novellas).

How and what to submit to QuoScript

  • Send your submission to QuoScript at the beginning of December.  We must have received it by midnight on 14th December 2020 GMT time-zone.  We reserve the right to disqualify submissions received after that date.
  • Your submission should consist of what you consider to be the best 10,000 words of the 20,000 words you have written, plus the synopsis* and a short covering letter about yourself as a writer and why you want to be published by QuoScript. The 10,000 words need not consist of consecutive text / chapters. The aim of the competition is to demonstrate your skills as a writer.
  • If you send us more than 10,000 words, please note we shall read the first 10,000 words only.
  • We undertake to read all submissions and synopses and provide all entrants with some preliminary feedback.
  • If we like what you have written, we shall invite you to send us the entire 20,000 words. If your extended text also excites us, we shall invite you to complete the whole book and send it to us.  From this stage on we shall be happy to offer some extra editorial help if you would like it.  We shall ask you to send us the completed submission by a mutually agreed date.
  • If we like your final draft, QuoScript will take first refusal of publication. We will send you a contract that requires you to agree to this.

Terms and Conditions

  • Registrants must be based in the UK or the USA.
  • Registrations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.  We can only accept 30 in each category. If, unfortunately, you are not one of the first 30, you may still make a submission to QuoScript through the standard route.  We will also keep a competition waiting list in case some registrants pull out.
  • The entry fee is payable upon acceptance of your registration.  We will e-mail you with the details of how to pay and send at least one reminder. If we have not received payment within seven working days of accepting the registration, we will “unregister” your application and make the place available again.
  • If after paying the registration fee you subsequently decide not to send a submission, the registration fee is non-returnable.
  • Submissions must be received on or before midnight 14th December 2020 GMT time-zone.
  • Standard publishing rules apply: submissions must be wholly your own work, not contain obscene or libellous material, or derive from the work of other authors. Any submissions that contravene these rules will be automatically disqualified.
  • Quoscript will only accept registration via email and if registration is successful your submission must be made by email. Any registration or submission received by post will be disqualified.
  • Submissions will be assessed by the two Directors of QuoScript and an independent editor.  The assessment team’s decisions will be final.  We will not enter into correspondence about our choices.
  • We will respond to all entrants by Friday 15th January 2021.
  • If we invite you to send a draft of the whole book, we shall send you a contract stating that QuoScript has first refusal of publication.  You will be required to undertake not to send it to another publisher before giving QuoScript first right to publish.
  • Please note that an invitation to submit the final draft does not automatically guarantee that we will publish the book.  We shall of course “release” the text back to you if we decide not to publish.
  • Entrants retain the copyright of any works entered into the challenge.
  • By registering for this challenge the two winners and two runner-up authors in each category agree to participate in QuoScripts marketing of this challenge on our website and social media platforms. 
  • Winners and runners up will be announced after their whole manuscript has been submitted and we have accepted it for publication.
  • If the winners do not submit a full manuscript within the time-line agreed with the judges we reserve the right to offer it to another competition entrant or decline to re-offer to any entrants.
  • Quoscript is fully GDPR compliant. Please visit our privacy policy at www.quoscript.co.uk

How to write a synopsis for the challenge

*The synopsis: this may be based on your original outline, but your initial intentions will probably have changed considerably while you’ve been writing.  Importantly, a synopsis is different from an outline in that it gives the prospective publisher accurate information not only about the plot but also about the characters, how they develop, and what the book is about. Not just the action: we want you to describe the rationale and psychology that drives it forward.     

A synopsis most emphatically is not a chapter-by-chapter précis of the book.  For the QuoScript NaNoWriMo Challenge, it should not be more than 1500 words in total, and shorter than this if possible.  It should consist of a résumé of the plot and descriptions of the key characters and what makes them tick, and any other points to which you wish to draw attention that make your book special: your use of local history, for example, or perhaps brief details of something that triggered the book – an actual incident or crime, maybe.   

It should conclude with a series of bullet points that state clearly what type of reader the book aims to attract.