It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I found out the Hardie Grant Ampersand Prize for middle grade and young adult fiction was open for entries from 1 to 16 September. The prize is a good one: a publishing contract with Hardie Grant along with an advance (an advance!) and editorial guidance to bring the novel to market.

A friend encouraged me to enter but I knew my manuscript needed a good rewrite. Between work and other commitments I wasn’t sure how I would allocate the rewrite the time it needed. But I was able to squeeze in an hour there and there before and after work, along with devoting a three-day weekend to the process.

The shortlist and winner will be announced later this year but whether or not my manuscript is in contention, the process of rewriting is always a valuable one. Every writer has their odd little habits and one of mine is stage directions. My characters are turning, walking, getting up, getting down, sitting up, leaning on elbows…you get the idea. It’s fine in early drafts but in the later stages of working with a manuscript it’s excess verbiage that has to go!


This is sort of how I look when  I’m writing an action scene.

One of the reasons I write this way is because I’m a physical writer. When my characters are physical, so am I. I do the sitting down and standing up, leaning, walking, crouching, rolling around and reaching they do. I have no idea if other writers work this way but I suspect (hope?) I’m not alone.

Although the Ampersand Prize has closed for 2016, keep if on your calendar for 2017. And keep your eye out for the release of the debut novel, Dark Spaces, from 2015 winner, Cally Black.

Image credit: Tom Igoe Creative Commons