Tuesday, 5 November 2013

STOP PRESS!!! 2nd W4W Writing Prize opens on Nov 11th. Read Santa Montefiore's tips to get you in the mood. by Margaret Graham

STOP PRESS!!!!  The second Words for the Wounded writing competition opens on 11th November 2013 and the closing date is not until 11th March so you have a nice long time. The entry fee is £4.50 and there is a 1st prize of £250, a 2nd of £100 and a 3rd of £50. Wonderful news! Writers' Forum are publishing the winners again.  Remember it can be poetry, fiction or non-fiction just so long as you don't exceed 400 words.

Also remember that to be a prize winner is good for a writer's cv.

Please go to Words for the Wounded to find out more about the competition and how you can enter  - we just love reading all the entries - or perhaps you'd just rather donate. Rest assured, every penny goes to the wounded for their rehabilitation. This year we have a theme: the journey. It can either be a physical or emotional journey.

To get you in the mood and cheer you on we are privileged to have some writing tips for you courtesy of one of our most successful authors, the lovely Santa Montefiore. Santa was the speaker at the Yeovil Literary Festival’s Literary Dinner (Seen here with Adam Bergen, Manager of The Octagon Theatre) and delighted everyone with her charm and hilarious literary anecdotes.

Santa Montefiore is the author of 14 bestselling novels and feels it’s her task to help us escape to sunnier shores whilst reminding us of all that’s stunning about England. Her novels are absorbing love stories that make us cry and laugh in equal measure.

She was born in England, growing up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at a Dorset boarding school where one of her inspirational English teachers was our very own W4W team member Penny Deacon (Crime and Romance author).

Santa converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefieore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London.

She wrote her first novel as a teenager which was promptly rejected. As she says ‘I hadn’t yet found a good story.’

The story was waiting in the wings. Santa spent a year on an estancia in the Argentine pampa before university. She loved it, the country and the people, and one person in particular! After a year she returned to England and university but longed to go back to the place where she felt she had a ‘place’. In her university break she did just that, but everyone had moved on and she no longer fitted. She had her story.

That was 14 bestselling novels ago.

A few reviews:

Daily Telegraph: ‘A gripping romance. It is as believable as it is beautiful.’

Penny Vincenzi: ‘Engaging and charming.’

Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey. ‘Santa Montefiore really knows these people inside and out. I couldn’t put this book down.

The Times: ‘One of our personal favourites and bestselling authors, sweeping stories of love and families spanning continents and decades.’

Secrets of the Lighthouse is her most recent and you will love it. It’s one of those unputdownable reads.

Santa's tips.

1.  Write for yourself, not with a view to getting published.  This will release you from self-consciousness enable you to write from the heart without worrying what other people may think.

2.    Write from the heart with integrity, not contriving to write something ‘fashionable or marketable’ – if you love what you write and really enjoy doing it, the chances are you will be infectious and your reader will love it too.

3.    Write about what you know.  Don’t be too ambitious and research something that is well out of your experience.  Try to use what you already know, it’s more likely to be believable that way.

4.    Get it written then get it right.  You can spend months polishing and polishing the first chapter and never get any further. Just write the book, the whole thing, without looking back, and then, once you have the story down, you can play with it as much as you like.  I find that many people can write a chapter or two, but it takes discipline to write an entire book.  Push past the first few chapters, you might find your voice in the 6th chapter, in which case keep going, then rewrite the first 6 chapters afterwards if you need to.  The wonder of computers is you can delete and add so easily.

5.    Be inspired by writers you admire. Read their work and learn from them.

6.    Character is so important.  It’s the characters that drive the plot.  Take time to develop them and observe people around you – the world is full of quirky, eccentric people who make great copy!

7.    Never give up. You only need one agent and one publisher.  Listen to advice from people you respect and keep at it.  We’ve all had rejections, but we always kept going!

So there you have it. Wise words indeed from Santa. There are many other tips in our previous blogs, so get reading, and then writing, to help our wounded live their long lives in the best possible way.  


  1. What fantastic, straightforward tips. Really useful to remember for all aspiring writers.

  2. Yes they are aren't they Tracy. Even established writers like me still learn something new every day. Thanks for your input.


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