Novel Slam 2021 – Reflections from past participants!

The Novel Slam returns, live, on Monday 18th October at 7pm at the Creative Lounge, which is part of Sheffield Showroom Workstation in Sheffield City Centre.

Winning Novel Slam entrants from 2019 and 2020’s online edition share their experiences of the event. It can feel daunting, but it’s a chance for you to showcase your novel in a friendly, supportive setting. To enter the Novel Slam or to book an audience ticket, click here! There is also a pitching workshop on Monday 11th October, on Zoom from 6-8pm. For more details, please click here!

Joanna Hastings – 2020

I was in two minds whether to enter for the Novel Slam or not! My novel was in very early stages and I wasn’t at all sure that it – or I – was ready. Friends encouraged me and at the last minute I did. I knew my first chapter wasn’t working, so I swapped it for a later one that felt better. Still, it was an inadequate fix and I wasn’t in the right place in the novel-writing process to redraft it, so I chose a passage from later in the book to be my submission extract. I think some judges found this annoying, so I wouldn’t recommend it necessarily, but it represented the flavour of my work better. Friends gave me feedback on my pitch–I’m terrible at pitches. Aside from that, my preparation was mostly reading aloud to make sure my passage would fit within the time limit. Oh, and digging out an old lipstick and a clean shirt! (I’m naturally scruffy and lockdown didn’t help.)

I was pretty nervous at the event. Again, my work wasn’t ready to be in front of people. But it turned out to be lovely. Some friends showed up on Zoom, a couple of them also competitors, which felt comradely. I enjoyed listening to everyone else’s readings, and felt grateful to be in the company of so many interesting authors, as well as organisers and judges who were supportive, gracious, kind, and made the whole thing fun rather than scary. The feedback I received that night and the help Dan gave me later were both motivational, things I could look back on when I felt like a talentless fraud. They helped me keep going.

I’ve just finished the first draft of the same novel that I was working on then, so I’m between drafts, stepping back for now so I can approach the second attempt with more clarity. I keep having ideas about it, so I’m trying to just scribble a note and put it away again. Perhaps after a week or so I’ll succeed in forgetting about it altogether. I’m planning to take this opportunity to do some pre-work on a new novel set here in Sheffield, that draws on the history of the Rivelin valley and the folktale of Northern England. Maybe.

Joanna Hastings

Letty Butler – 2019

In terms of my experience of Novel Slam both as a participant and audience member, I’ve found it to be incredibly inclusive and supportive, inspiring and uplifting. I’m always delighted by the eclectic array of content delivered by an equally diverse range of writers. It makes me feel less alone – knowing I’m scribbling away in good company. 

Tips wise – I think the main thing is to practice reading your pitch and extract aloud before hitting the stage, and when you’re up there, go 25% slower than you think you should. It will feel odd, but nerves automatically make you read faster. Remember that it’s the first time the audience are hearing your words – even if it’s the 700th time you’ve read them. It doesn’t hurt to do a little vocal warm up before the event either – perhaps some tongue twisters, or a bit of yoga to get the breath support going – because if people can’t hear you clearly, they’re not going to vote for you. Be loud and proud of your work!

I guess it’s important to choose a bit that’s instantly accessible so the audience can get hooked into the narrative in a relatively short space of time – so something punchy & instantly intriguing or gratifying. Something that doesn’t require prior knowledge of the characters or situation in order to be impactful. 

I know this is going to sound like a bit of a cliche, but it’s probably helpful to view it more as a networking event rather than a competition. It’s not the winning that counts etc etc . Writing can be such an isolating existence, so to find other local writers and connect with them is integral to keep momentum & motivation up when it gets tough. Non writers can be very supportive of the writers’ life, but they don’t truly know how it feels. For me, meeting and connecting with others writers, and establishing a strong support system is one of the key elements of remaining sane – the novel slam is a brilliant opportunity to do these things. 

Most of all – just try and enjoy it. It’s a great night. You’ll meet some smashing people, hear some wonderful work and it will motivate you to crack on. If you don’t get placed this year, you’ve still been bloody brave by taking one more step towards getting your work out there into the world. 

Erm what else… oh yes – my writing. So, I won in 2019 which meant I got feedback from a literary agent on the first 3000 words. She went on to request the full manuscript – which was a huge compliment & confidence boost. She decided it wasn’t for her – rightly so – it wasn’t remotely ready! I’ve just got back from a writing retreat and am halfway through my 6th & (hopefully final!) draft of the same novel. I’m now adapting it into a screenplay through Sky Writes & New Writing North, having pitched the concept earlier this year. I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to pursue this unless I’d had the validation early on regarding the strength of the idea. I’ve also just finished a non fiction book which is in the process of being formatted & sent out to publishers. So all in all, not too shabby. 

And winning encouraged me to enter other competitions, so I have since been Highly Commeded by Silver Apples Magazine, Shortlisted twice for the International Reflex Flash Fiction Prize and I won the Cranked Anvil Short Story Comp in April…

Novel Slam 2021 – live on stage!!!

Novel Slam

Mon 18 Oct 7.30pm at the Creative Lounge, Sheffield Showroom Workstation

It’s big, it’s back and it’s live on stage. Novel Slam 2021 is here!

Bring a 1 minute pitch and a 3 minute extract from your work in progress and compete for the title of Novel Slam champion.  With friendly, insightful feedback from Sheffield novelists Bryony Doran, Daniel Blythe, Stacey Sampsom, Berlie Doherty and Gavin Extence, you could win free coaching, feedback and a read from agent Caroline Montgomery from Rupert Crew.

Tickets available from Beverley Ward here: https://www.beverleywrites.com/workshops-and-courses/novel-slam

Organised by Sheffield Novelists in association with Off the Shelf 

Follow the Sheffield Novelists blog to watch out for tips from past winners and competitors!

Enter the Novel Slam 2019!

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Off the Shelf and into KOMMUNE

The Novel Slam 2019 returns on Tuesday 22nd October 2019 at KOMMUNE. This year, the Novel Slam is an official part of the main Off the Shelf programme for the first time, so please come along and give us your support.

Pitching Workshop

To help you to polish your pitch for your novel, we have a free event as part of the Writers’ Hub launch from 2-4pm on Saturday 12th October 2019 at the Writers Hub at Kurious Arts, Castle House, Angel Street, S3 8LS. For more details, follow this link https://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/event/pitch-publish-party-2019/

Enter the Novel Slam 2019!

This year, the Novel Slam takes place at KOMMUNE, a new space for eating, drinking and cultural experiences in the former Co-Op department store in Castle House on Angel Street. The building is also the home of the new Writers Hub. https://kurious.art/writershub

The event is on Tuesday 22nd October and starts at 7.00pm. Get there early to make sure that you hear all the novelists – the audience gets to vote on their favourite pitch.

To enter the novel slam as a competitor, please follow the link on the Writers Hub website. Tickets for entrants cost £10. Novel Slam Competition Entrance Fee Tickets

To attend the event as an audience member, tickets are £5. You can book a ticket via the Off the Shelf website: Novel Slam at Off the Shelf or you can pay on the door. Audience members are very important as their votes influence who goes through to the next round.

Please come along and support this fantastic event! All aspiring novelists are invited to perform, and everyone is welcome at this event!

The Facebook Event for the 2019 Novel Slam is: https://www.facebook.com/events/718233671952958/  Please share and tell your friends about it!

Prepare for the Novel Slam

  • The aim of the Novel Slam is to provide a supportive forum where you can really sell your book in front of a live audience and professional writers.
  • We know how important it is for you to showcase your work. It’s also a great opportunity to get feedback from professional writers and meet other novelists.
  • The Novel Slam is also an entertaining evening and we want everyone to have fun.
  • You need to prepare a one minute pitch for your book.
  • Base your pitch on the most gripping blurb you’ve ever read on the back of a book – something that would make you pick it up and buy it. Time yourself. If you go over 60 seconds, a Klaxon will sound!
  • You will be asked to read the first line of your novel. Make sure it’s a good one!
  • In case you get through to the second round, please prepare a three minute extract from your novel to read. If you do get voted through to the second round, here are some extra tips:
  • To reel in your audience, it is probably advisable to read from your first chapter. However, feel free to read from any part of your novel, especially if it’s dramatic, action-packed or funny. Avoid spoilers and scenes with lots of characters that won’t mean anything to an audience hearing an extract from your novel for the first time.
  • This could be your chance to ensure that the opening of your novel is exciting and engaging. Agents, publishers and most importantly, readers, want a fantastic read from the very start.
  • Practise – and time your pitch and your reading – and rehearse it in front of friends and family – or even in front of the mirror.
  • You will be using a microphone on the night so, if possible, practise using one!

At the Novel Slam

Round 1:

  • A timed one minute pitch of your novel. Don’t forget to tell us the title of your book, your name (or pen name).
  • Read the first line of your novel.
  • The audience and the judges vote for their favourite pitches.
  • There will be a short break while the scores are added up.
  • Eight writers will get through to the next round.

Round 2:

  • The eight novelists to get through to Round 2 each read their three minute extract from their novels.
  • The judges will give constructive feedback to each writer, and will award scores secretly, to be given out at the end.
  • The judges will retire to add up their scores during a short break.
  • First, second and third places will be awarded to the judges’ three top choices.
  • There’s also an audience prize, for a writer who didn’t get through to the final three.

The Prizes

Kate Shaw founded the Shaw Agency in 2019 after eighteen years as a literary agent at Aitken Alexander Associates and The Viney Agency.

During Kate’s career in books she has promoted Booker-shortlisted authors, discovered Sunday Times-bestselling writers and represented multiple award-winning books that have sold millions of copies worldwide in dozens of languages and been optioned for film & TV.

Kate has brought her clients with her to The Shaw Agency and her mission is to continue to inspire them to be the finest writers they can be, to negotiate the best deals for them across the world and to discover and nurture new authors.

Kate’s passions are literary and commercial fiction, crime fiction, powerful and quirky non-fiction, teen and children’s books.

The Shaw Agency has a first look deal with the Golden Egg Academy.

Kate Shaw author image
Kate Shaw

More fantastic prizes include:

  • A read through of the first three chapters of your novel and feedback from author Daniel Blythe
  • A professional coaching session
  • Local authors’ book giveaway

Bonus Prize:

  • A month’s free membership of the Writers Hub

Urban Tiger Radio

On the night, Urban Tiger Radio will be looking out for promising authors to record podcasts for their Soundscape Magazine for original music and literature. It’s a great way to promote your novel. https://soundcloud.com/rbanigeradio

Meet the Team

The Judges – a lovely selection of Sheffield writers – definitely not as scary as X-Factor!

Spotlight Photo
Stacey Sampson

Stacey Sampson: Stacey is an actor, writer and facilitator from Sheffield. Her work as a performer and scriptwriter spans theatre, television and film. She won the first ever Novel Slam and since then her novels have gone on to win the Arvon Award, Norther Writers’ Award and the Mslexia Novel Competition.

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Daniel Blythe

Daniel Blythe is a writer of 10 novels for children and adults, as well as non-fiction books on diverse subjects and short novellas for reluctant readers, and is published internationally in the UK, Europe, the USA, South America and Asia. He has worked with over a dozen different publishers in 25 years and is represented by a leading UK literary agent (Rupert Crew Ltd). He has written several of the official Doctor Who books licensed by the BBC. Daniel’s first ‘literary’ book was 1999’s The Cut (Penguin), followed by Losing Faith and This is the Day. In 2012 his first supernatural fantasy novel for young readers, Shadow Runners, was published. Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones (for age 9-12) was published in 2015 and a sequel Emerald Greene: Instruments of Darkness in 2017. His new novel for older teenagers, a sci-fi mystery called Exiles, has just been published and will be officially launched at Kommune in Sheffield in November 2019. Daniel has worked extensively in schools with pupils of all ages and has taught on the M.A. in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. He also mentors, advises and edits writers of all ages through various literary consultancies. He has two teenage children and lives in the wilds of rural Sheffield.

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Bryony Doran

Bryony Doran is a novelist, poet and short story writer. Graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with an MA in Writing, Bryony went on to win the Hookline Novel Award with her debut novel, The China BirdHer other published works are: A short story collection, The Sand Eggs and a poetry collection, Bullet Proof, included in Home Front, a quadrilogy of modern war poetry published by Bloodaxe.

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Gavin Extence

Gavin Extence: Gavin’s latest novel, The End of Time, came out this summer, a story about the epic journey of two teenage refugees from Syria. The author of best selling novels The Universe Versus Alex WoodsThe Mirror World of Melody Black and The Empathy Problem, he is an alumnus of the University of Sheffield and is the patron of Walkley Carnegie Library, supporting reading and creativity in the community.

The Compere

Iain Broome
Iain Broome

Iain Broome is the author of A is for Angelica, a novel about a middle-aged man struggling to care for his seriously-ill wife while obsessing over the lives of his neighbours.

Having worked for many years as an agency copywriter, Iain is now a freelance writer and content producer. He has previously edited literary magazines, co-organised a successful monthly spoken word event and maintained a popular website and podcast about writing.

Iain currently publishes This From The Writing Shed , a weekly email newsletter for writers, readers and people in publishing.

He lives in Sheffield with his wife, daughter and identical twin boys.

The Organisers

Beverley Ward
Beverley Ward

Beverley Ward is a writer, coach and facilitator. She is the curator of the Writers’ Hub at Kurious Arts, Sheffield. Her latest book is coming out in 2020. Dear Blacksmith is part love story, part grief memoir, recounting the author’s brief and unconventional love affair with ‘Blacksmith Paul’, a maverick who lived out on the moors in the Peak District – and the heart-rending details of her grief after his sudden death, just eight months into their relationship. coming out 2020.

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Anne Grange

Anne Grange is a writer, editor and creative writing tutor and facilitator from Sheffield. She is the author of Distortion, a novel inspired by her love of music and festivals. She runs the Sheffield Novelists writing group every month, giving writers the chance to get feedback on their work in a supportive atmosphere!

Sheffield Novel Slam 2018 – join us!

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An aspiring novelist reads at the novel slam in 2017.

The Novel Slam 2018 returns on Thursday 18th October 2018 at DINA. It isn’t officially part of Off the Shelf festival this year, so please come along and support an independent event, organised, hosted and attended by local writers and their friends!

However, that means that we were able to fund a FREE pitching workshop, which is all about how to write a brilliant blurb and a sizzling synopsis, and find out just what to say if you find yourself in a lift with an agent or publisher!

Follow this link for details and to book a FREE place at Perfect Your Pitch! http://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/event/perfect-your-pitch/ This takes place on Saturday 13th October from 1.30-4.30pm at St Matthew’s Church, Carver Street in Sheffield City Centre. The workshop is led by the fantastic Beverley Ward and Anne Grange.

The Novel Slam!

This year, the Novel Slam takes place once again at DINA, so you’ll be able to enjoy the evening in atmospheric surroundings. Hopefully the stage will still have that spangly curtain! There will be a fully stocked bar and friendly, cabaret-style seating.
The event is on Thursday 18th October and starts at 7.30pm. Get there early to make sure that you hear all the novelists – the audience gets to vote on their favourite pitch.
To book your place as an entrant or as an audience member, please follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/novel-slam-2018-tickets-50071700805
Please come along and support this fantastic event! All aspiring novelists are invited to perform, and everyone is welcome at this event! Tickets are £10 if you want to enter, and £5 to be part of our voting audience.
If you read this blog post, or book a ticket on Eventbrite, please share it on social media or by email, to help spread the word!
The Facebook Event for the 2018 Novel Slam is: Novel Slam 2018.
Please share and tell your friends about it!

Information for Writers

  • The novel slam is fun – but we also value quality feedback and making sure that every writer feels supported, so please give it a go!
  • You need to prepare a one minute pitch for your book. Think about the most exciting blurb for your book that would get people picking it up in bookshops (and buying it in droves). Time yourself. If you go over 60 seconds, some kind of Klaxon will sound, I’ve been told. You will also need to tell us the title of the novel.
  • You also need to pick a three minute extract from your novel to read. Here are some extra tips:
  • Most writers choose to read from their first chapter, but some winning competitors in previous years’ Novel Slams have used particularly funny or thrilling scenes from further into their novels.
  • If you feel that the opening of your novel isn’t particularly thrilling – why? Readers (including agents and publishers) are looking for something that grabs them immediately. Preparing for the novel slam may be a good chance to test and re-draft your novel.
  • Choose an extract with lots of drama and action, but avoid scenes with lots of dialogue by characters that the audience won’t know about.
  • Avoid spoilers – you don’t want to give away any big secrets that readers won’t know until later in the novel!
  • With a bit of practise, such as a free pitching workshop (see above for details), or reading out extracts from your novel to your friends, family or pets, your pitch and novel slam will be perfect. Make sure you speak clearly and practise looking up into audience members’ eyes! There will be a microphone for you to use at the event, so please try one out if you’ve never used one.

On the Night

  • The first round is a time one minute pitch of your novel. You have one minute to wow audience and judges alike. Don’t explain your whole plot, just write a blurb that would make readers pick up your book and buy it straight away. The title is very important too!
  • The audience then votes for the novels they most like the sound of, and there will be a short break. Eight people will make it through to the next round.
  • The novelists then have three minutes to read their three minute extract from their novel.
  • The judges will give constructive feedback to each writer, and will award scores.
  • There will be a short break while the scores are being added up.
  • First, second and third prizes will be awarded to the three top judge’s choices, with an audience prize for the writer who received the highest score in the pitching round without getting through to second round.
  • The prizes will include a read-through by a top agent, a writing workshop, a podcast on Urban Tiger Radio, and professional coaching or mentoring.

The Judges

Meet the Panel

Stacey Sampson:Writer, actor and drama practitioner, well known for her work in This Is England. Her first novel won the Arvon Award at the 2013 Northern Writers’ Awards, and she is the winner of the 2017 Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition.

Daniel Blythe: The author of many novels for adults and children, including The CutLosing Faith and This is the Day. He wrote the bestselling Doctor Who adventure Autonomy for BBC books, and his books for younger readers include: Shadow Runners, Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones and Emerald Greene: Instruments of Darkness for younger readers. He also works as a writer in schools, inspiring a new generation of writers.

Bryony Doran: Novelist, poet, short story and script writer. Bryony won the Hookline novel award in 2009 for her debut novel The China Bird. Her short story collection The Sand Eggs has also won critical acclaim. One of her latest works is Home Front, a a quadrilogy of book-length sequences by four female poets living in a state of separation from sons or husbands who are in a war zone. Bryony’s poems in the book telling the story of her son joining the army and his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Bryony also works as a creative writing coach, helping other writers’ creativity to flourish.

Gavin Extence: The author of best selling novels The Universe Versus Alex WoodsThe Mirror World of Melody Black and The Empathy Problem, he is an alumni of the University of Sheffield and is the patron of Walkley Carnegie Library, supporting reading and creativity in the community.

Our compere for the evening will be Iain Broome, author of novel A is for Angelica . He is also a freelance writer, editor and content producer. Once again, he will be poised with his horn if any novel slam entrants go over their time limit!

Good luck!!

Be heard! Join the Sheffield Novel Slam 2017

Poetry slam logo

It’s that time of year again! The novel slam is now part of the official Festival Fringe of Off the Shelf in Sheffield.

On Monday 9th October, at 7.30pm, the novel slam launches at a new venue, DINA https://www.facebook.com/dinavenue/ DINA is a new venue for the arts. Expect an intimate feel, a stage with a touch of glittery glamour, and importantly, a bar!

Once again, we have a panel of judges with a world of writing expertise, our very own X-Factor style judges of fiction talent. (Don’t worry, they will be friendly!)

The novel slam is still a unique concept – there are lots of poetry slams, where poets can find their voice, but we novelists had no outlet to reach an audience or get feedback from professionals. If you are writing a novel – or a novella, this is your chance to entrance the audience.

Please take the plunge – it takes a little courage to pitch your novel and read out extracts, but in return for preparing well and rehearsing, you’ll get feedback from award-winning authors, and the chance to win writing related prizes such as coaching, critiques, and feedback from a literary agent.

If you don’t want to compete, we would love to have you as part of the audience. Come and meet Sheffield’s new writing talent! You also get to vote for your favourite entries, so the night doesn’t happen without you.

Tickets cost £5 /£3 concessions on the door.

If you want to compete in the Novel Slam, call Anne on 07815966784, or email sheffieldnovelists@gmail.com to book  your place. Entrants from previous years are very welcome to have another go, particularly with a new book. New writers are especially welcome too!

There is a Facebook page for the Novel Slam so if you’re going to the event, please use it to help us to spread the word! Sheffield Novel Slam on Facebook

Tickets for audience members and entrants will be available on the door, but you can also reserve tickets here via Eventbrite: Reserve a ticket.

Watch this space for more news about the judges and our compere for the evening.

The Rules

The novel slam is a fun, yet slightly competitive way to promote new writing talent. Everyone is welcome to enter, and the atmosphere is warm and supportive! Please don’t be daunted by the prospect of entering. There will be constructive criticism from the judges, but they know what they are talking about – they’ve won prizes for doing it!

The first round is a time one minute pitch of your novel. You have one minute to wow audience and judges alike. Don’t explain your whole plot, just write a blurb that would make readers pick up your book and buy it straight away. The title is very important too!

The audience then votes for the novels they most like the sound of, and there will be a short break. Ten people will make it through to the next round.

The novelists then have three minutes to read an extract from their novel. Here are some tips:

  • Most writers choose to read from their first chapter, but some winning competitors in previous years’ Novel Slams have used particularly funny or thrilling scenes from further into their novels.
  • If you feel that the opening of your novel isn’t particularly thrilling – why? Readers (including agents and publishers) are looking for something that grabs them immediately. Preparing for the novel slam may be a good chance to test and re-draft your novel.
  • Choose an extract with lots of drama and action, but avoid scenes with lots of dialogue by characters that the audience won’t know about.
  • Avoid spoilers – you don’t want to give away any big secrets that readers won’t know until later in the novel!

The judges will give constructive feedback to each writer, and the audience and judges will vote for their favourite novel extracts.

In the final round, the four finalists will read for a further 5 minutes each and will each receive more in-depth feedback from the panel of judges. The overall winner will get the first choice of prizes.

Practise makes perfect: craft your pitch carefully, test it out in front of your family and friends, use a timer when you’re rehearsing, and edit your extracts to read so they’re engaging, attention-grabbing and intriguing.

The Judges

Meet the Panel

Stacey Sampson:Writer, actor and drama practitioner, well known for her work in This Is England. Her first novel won the Arvon Award at the 2013 Northern Writers’ Awards, and she is the winner of the 2017 Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition.

Daniel Blythe: The author of many novels for adults and children, including The CutLosing Faith and This is the Day. He wrote the bestselling Doctor Who adventure Autonomy for BBC books, and his books for younger readers include: Shadow Runners, Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones and Emerald Greene: Instruments of Darkness for younger readers. He also works as a writer in schools, inspiring a new generation of writers.

Bryony Doran: Novelist, poet, short story and script writer. Bryony won the Hookline novel award in 2009 for her debut novel The China Bird. Her short story collection The Sand Eggs has also won critical acclaim. One of her latest works is Home Front, a a quadrilogy of book-length sequences by four female poets living in a state of separation from sons or husbands who are in a war zone. Bryony’s poems in the book telling the story of her son joining the army and his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Bryony also works as a creative writing coach, helping other writers’ creativity to flourish.

Gavin Extence: The author of best selling novels The Universe Versus Alex Woods, The Mirror World of Melody Black and The Empathy Problem, he is an alumni of the University of Sheffield and is the patron of Walkley Carnegie Library, supporting reading and creativity in the community.

Our compere for the evening will be Iain Broome, author of novel A is for Angelica . He is also a freelance writer, editor and content producer. Once again, he will be poised with his horn if any novel slam entrants go over their time limit!

Good luck!!

 

 

 

 

Novel Slam 2015

The annual Off the Shelf Novel Slam has become something of a Sheffield tradition over the last few years, with fiction writers getting brave and pitching and reading out their work in front of a live audience. The aim of the event is to give new fiction writers an audience, and a chance to showcase their work, just like poets would do in a poetry slam. Writing novels can be a lonely business!

Scary-Book

The novel slam takes place on Tuesday 27th October at 7.30pm at Bank Street Arts, in Sheffield city centre. Tickets cost £5 /£3 concessions on the door, and refreshments are available. If you don’t want to compete, just turn up, enjoy it, and vote for the best books.

If you want to take part in the Novel Slam, call 07815966784, or email sheffieldnovelists@gmail.com

The first round is a 1 minute pitch of your novel. You will be timed! You have exactly one minute to convince the audience that your novel is a must-read. You don’t need to explain your entire plot, you just need to prepare the blurb that will make readers pick your book off the shelves and take it straight to the till in the bookshop.

The audience will vote for their favourites, and after a short break, the ten people through to the next round will have 3 minutes to read a compelling extract from their novel. Most people pick the start of the first chapter, but some writers have had success with extracts from the middle of their books.

The panel of published writers will give feedback to the contestants and there will be a break while the audience vote again, and the judges pick the four winning novelists.

The winners will each read a slightly longer extract from their novels, and the judges will give more detailed feedback.

The prizes will include reading of your novel and feedback from literary agent Joanna Swainson, a free read of your manuscript by The Literary Consultancy and free creative coaching.

Although the competitive format of the Novel Slam may seem a little daunting, it’s just for fun really, and a great chance to meet other writers.

Tip: practise makes perfect, so carefully craft your pitch, test it out in front of your family and friends, use a timer when you’re rehearsing, and edit your extracts to read so they’re engaging, attention-grabbing and intriguing.