RNA NWS Feedback


I was absolutely thrilled when I returned home from Swanwick to discover a large envelope had arrived which The Hubster left on my desk. He hadn’t let on during the week that it had arrived, but only because he didn’t realise what it was. I’m glad he didn’t tell me as I would have been begging him to open it lol.

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Sorry, for those of you new to my blog I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists New Writers Scheme. You send them an MS and then an anonymous reader gives you feedback. The readers are all full Romantic Novelist Association Members.

In my cover letter to my anonymous reader I explained that “Tangled” was in first draft form (I haven’t even reread it all the way through since I wrote it) and that I really didn’t have a clue where to start editing. Also, that I needed guidance on whether it was too “thrillery” to be considered “Contemporary Women’s Fiction” and I got my answers on both those questions….

The first sentence of the feedback cheered me up! My reader said “This has an interesting story line with a good twist at the end so that it possibly has the potential to become an exciting novel.” So far so good I think ;)

As regarding genre, my reader said “…the opening is exciting and shocking and quickly draws the reader in, leading to the expectation that some kind of thriller will follow. It would be worth considering therefore that the whole book should be developed as more of a thriller, by adding more suspense, intrigue and tension…. Hmmmm, ok, so it’s not a romance lol… I suspected as much.

She went on to write at least 1 paragraph of feedback under each of the following headings:
Genre
Beginning
Setting
Characterisation
Show not Tell
Meaningful Scenes/Dialogue
Pace
Emotional Tension and Suspense
Presentation – Layout/Punctuation
Synopsis
5 pages in all of feedback, mainly consisting of details where I could expand, scenes that don’t work, areas to work on and a good luck message at the end.

There was one thing that my reader said that I’d like your opinion on (I’m going to be asking everyone and his dog about this now lol). She suggested that i get in early details of the ages of my main characters because she thought the names Anna and Tim could suggest much younger characters (in my mind Anna is 48 and Tim 10 years older).What do you think? I don’t know anyone under the age of 50 called Tim. Would love your views.

On the whole I’m really pleased and would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to my anonymous reader. Her feedback will be invaluable when I start editing :)

I can highly recommend joining the New Writers Scheme if you’re thinking about writing romance. Perhaps I should find out if there is a “thriller” scheme I could join instead now ;)

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45 thoughts on “RNA NWS Feedback

  1. That’s amazing! Excellent feedback! A thriller can be romance too, just sayin’. I really hate all the genre crap, but it’s needed for publishers. As to Anna and Tim, I wonder how old and what nationality your reader is. Anna and Tim are both old names or age appropriate as in your characters.

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  2. Excellent feedback for you. I find the fall and rise of first names in popularity a fascinating subject. My sons, now aged 31 and 32, both had school friends called Tim and the Annas I know range in age from 11 to 87. I recently met a 15 year old Connie, a name I thought long gone, so maybe there’s hope for other names I associate very much with previous generations.

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  3. What great feedback. Congratulations! A massive boost for you.

    As for Anna and Tim. I have a friend called Anna – yes, younger than the age you stipulate! And my ex-childminder cares for a nine year old Anna. I also know a Tim who is in his 30’s. sorry.

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  4. Congratulations on your feedback – Glad it was so positive. AS to teh age thing, I’ve never come across anyone suggesting that certian names suggest people of a certain age before. Perhaps the reader knows young Annas and Tims and that’s given them preconceptions? I would have thought that the sort of things that they were doing and the tone of their voices woudl have suggested older people. Even the tone of the prose would be different as YA is vastly different from an adult romance/thriller. What sort of things are they doing at the beginning of their book. If Anna was making coffee, for example, I would have thought that she’d be an older woman. Have you got someone else who can give you a second opinion? I’d offer, but I know their ages now so it may not be a fair test.

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    • Thanks Debbie :)

      At the beginning of the book Anna gets back from shopping to find her husband Tim dead on the living room floor. But I guess that could mean their ages could be anywhere from mid 20’s upwards.

      Awwww, thanks honey, yeah, I think I’ll work on it and see if I can get more in the beginning but indicating their ages.

      Xx

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  5. Brilliant feedback for you and very encouraging. If you still want the book to be a romance perhaps you can work a little more on the romantic scenes to make them more prominent and more pertinent to the story as you go back to re-read and edit? As for the names, well, I know Anna’s of all ages and the name doesn’t make me think of any age, but I confess Tim does sound young to me. Probably from all the books I read as a child, Tim was often ‘ the friend’. Though I think of Tim Brooke Taylor now I’ve said that and his youthful appearances in The Goodies come to mind. It shouldn’t be difficult to introduce ages to quell all the questions.
    Good luck with the book. xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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    • Thanks David :)

      I think the fact that there’s a murder at the beginning of the book is where the problem lies. It is very romancy, but, you can’t get away from the murder lol.

      Ahhhhh, that’s interesting that you think Tim sounds young….tennis fan? ;)

      Thanks honey xx

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  6. I’m totally with you on the issue of age. The only Anna I know is just a few years younger than me (so quite old!) and the Tims I know would definitely fit your character’s age.

    I get fed up with all the ‘genre’ emphasis as well, but I also appreciate that it’s to please the publishers.

    Well done, Vikki.

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    • Thanks Barbara :)

      I know what you mean about Genre, but, readers like to know what they’re getting I guess. I wouldn’t be too impressed to pick up a romance (pay for it) and half way through realise it was sci-fi or something (but I guess I’d know that within the first few pages and put it down and probably be pretty peeved lol).

      Xx

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  7. How very exciting! Congratulations. It’s always wonderful to receive acknowledgement of all the hard work done! As for Anna and Tim – I would think that the context and situations you place them in should sort out any mis-apprehensions! :) Well done Vikki! xxx

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  8. I’m really glad sending it off was worthwhile! As far as the names go – I don’t know any Tims and we haven’t had any at school for the past 12 years at least, but Anna is a popular name and I think it does have a young ring to it and we have two Annas at school. I bet you’re all nicely fired up now :-)

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  9. Well done, excellent feedback. I know a 10 year old Tim (we have to refrain from calling him Timmy nowadays) and Anna-Maria or Anna-Sophia seem to be very popular for under 16 currently so I think fashions in names come and go and recur. But I do know what your reader means, you can date some names: Edna, Kylie, Brittany?

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  10. There’s definitely such a thing as a romantic thriller, but I suppose if a novel is marketed as a thriller and then it happens to have a romance going on as well, then you’re more likely to attract some male readers who wouldn’t normally touch that sort of novel.

    As for names of characters, if I’m writing something contemporary (rather than futuristic) I usually google the most popular names for the year that character would have been born. I have met a number of forty-somethings called Anna and some called Tim, too. I’m not sure I know any young people with those names. I’ve got an Anna in my latest novel, who’s a teenager, but this is set in the future.

    I once suffered the painful experience of attending a writing circle critique evening and having to listen to a man’s idea of erotic fiction. He’d called the woman Prudence (can’t remember the male character’s name, but something equally as old-fashioned). So there was me, thinking I was hearing about a sex scene between a couple of octogenarians, to be informed afterwards that they were in their twenties D:

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    • Thanks Sarah :)

      Yeah, I think most thrillers have a romantic thread don’t they? But romance with a thriller thread? A murder? Not sure that worked lol

      Ha ha ha, that’s funny about the Erotica guy, bless him ;)

      Xx

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  11. Tim makes me think of the Mrs Tim series by DE Stevenson. The series was written in the 1950’s so there you go. I don’t know any youthful Tims or Annas. Have fun putting the critique into action. ;)

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  12. As good as Christmas – how great! Sounds like a great group to be involved with
    Both names first conjure up young characters to me – but with the actor Tim Allen and multiple older Annas, the names easily slide up and down the ages.
    It’s never a bad idea to clarify/firm up reader’s images of main characters early – sometimes makes their words and actions more logical

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    • Thanks honey, it was definitely exciting opening that envelope, but nerve racking too!

      Yeah, I think I need to add some description or something, just to make it more pronounced, how old they are.

      Thanks honey xx

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  13. Congrats and what a great program for new writers. Getting independent feedback can be scary, but if you take it with the right attitude, it can be the best thing to happen to your novel. In regards to the names, I had a childhood friend name Tim, but haven’t heard the name very much since. Anna feels young to me. Might be american/english thing, too.

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  14. Hi Vikki,
    Congrats on your brilliant feedback – I agree with the other comments that thrillers can have romance in them, and romance novels can have thriller elements too! Mix it up, is what I say :) And as for Anna and Tim – I can see why the reader might say this, I guess he/she is just trying to give the best advice, but the problem with the best advice is it’s often so generic. (As are many of the critiques offered by services like this, unfortunately. They are trying to help you fit your book into a pre-understood form, but that’s not always about originality.) Names are very personal, and while they should (hopefully) resonate with the reader, there’s nothing wrong with names that aren’t immediately obvious. Calling older people Mavis or Albert is just reinforcing stereotypes, anyway, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going for names that move away from the expected.
    Having said that, Anna and Tim are fine for the ages you’ve given them, as others have said. In my new book, the lead character is called Flora, and many people have said they expected her to be old. (She’s 29.) You go with what works for you, and remember to take all advice – even this advice – with a bit dollop of salt xxx

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  15. That’s great news on the feedback, you can move forward again now. I’m still debating with myself over what genre to tackle and I have thought about romance. I have ideas for it but then worry that my ideas are too sensible and boring. I need to spice them up a bit I think.
    As for the names Anna and Tim, they make me think of people in their 30s. I’ve known people with those names a similar age to me. I hope this helps!

    Heather.

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