The thrill of encouragement

The 2021 longlist at Adventures In Fiction for novel beginnings

Yes, we do write because we have to. Because that is what we do. We know that writing brings its own intrinsic rewards, that it has personal value in and of itself. Yes we do. But that doesn’t mean we’re not susceptible to a bit of external encouragement on our writing odyssey.

It’s been nearly a week since the longlist appeared on the facebook communications window of Adventures in Fiction, a UK-based fiction mentoring concern which likes, according to their website, to nurture budding talent. The ‘first novel’ competition is designed both to stimulate effort, and frankly I think, to develop a pool of recruits for the fee-paying programme. After all, the prize, a combination of the Start Up programme and the First Steps follow-on, is only going to one writer, in the end.

The other 24 longlisted authors are going to want to develop too, aren’t they? Perfect recruits for the process which, it’s fair to note, is funded by Arts Council England. For me, the stimulus of being seen, of having my work recognised within a list of aspirants as worthy of mention, is quite energising. Positive vibes make me want to write more, to write better, to learn the techniques that will compel readers to follow through to the very end, until they reach that ‘ah’ point and put the book down, maybe even with a tiny tear in their eye.

So I’m sure that I’ll be an eager candidate for the programme, though I’m also sure that historical fiction, which I assume Keep Me in Your Heart is, veering into the Young Adult genre, is far outside of my personal comfort zone. The novel proposal developed from a short story I wrote in response to a MacGuffin (embroidered postcards produced by refugees from WWI) proffered by our Writing Group tutor, and that story has lain quietly for about a year while I pursued my science fiction ambitions.

But of the three entries I submitted to the Adventures in Fiction contest, it was KMiYH that was chosen for mention. I had such fun too, in the run-up to competition deadline, developing the first 50 pages of the novel. Even if the concept doesn’t make the shortlist stage, which should be announced during this coming week, I’m delighted, somewhat gobsmacked, pleased with my effort.

So my new plan, for the coming six months, is to continue with our weekly Writing Group sessions, since they’re so stimulatory in themselves, while putting my head down and working on two different novels: Biome NE47 Sequel (I must finish the story!); KMiYH. But with the longlist imprimatur, I shall try to join the Start Up mentorship programme at Adventures in Fiction for the historical fiction, and with a view to taking the lessons from that exercise back to the sci-fi Sequel too.

After all, I still have funds (Thank you Uncle Joe, for the Economic Stimulus payment received as a Social Security pensioner!) to pay for the Start Up process. So, both exciting, and diligent times ahead.

By Larry Winger

Retired scientist, devoted diarist (, community-minded aspirant novelist, I've lived on a smallholding in the East Allen Valley for the past 30 years, delighting in watching our family grow up, in experiencing the development of our grandsons, and in taking care of our small flock of chickens and garden.

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