Life Performance at Off the Shelf Novel Slam 2015

In October last year, Sheffield Novelists hosted Novel Slam as a part of the annual  Off the Shelf literature festival.

  For some authors, it became an opportunity to meet agents and publishers, for others–to introduce their creations (or the final drafts of them) to the public, for me…Well, I’ve decided it as my first experience in reading and “performing” my novel in front of the potential readers.

I wanted to challenge not only my writing skills, but myself as well.

Reading in front of the audience of 25-30 unknown people and judges was scary, I must admit. I was the only one non-native English speaking participant out of eighteen authors, so the pressure was high.

In the first round, every writer should have read the blurb–a one minute short synopsis of his or her novel. This was the most complicated part, because it’s almost impossible to tell the whole story in a few sentences, “to hook” the audience and judges, to say everything about your book without saying anything, to convince the reader to pick the book of the shelf.

For me, the main thing here was to make the blurb as “visible” as possible, to turn the words into action, to perform rather than just to read. The audience should “watch” it like a film trailer. I’m not afraid of public speaking, but my last public presentation I’ve done…eh, I think it was at University.

I felt my throat was getting dry like a desert and I was out of breath in the end of each sentence. My voice sounded strange and unnatural.

I’ve passed through the second round though together with ten other authors. The audience and judges voted for me. I felt like I have already achieved something great. It was like a recognition for me that I was able to create something which was interesting not only for me, my family and friends, but for the readers as well. Something unique, something unusual…

I stuck into the second round, where the novelists should have read three minutes’ extracts from their first chapters. I haven’t progressed further, but for me it didn’t really matter. My performance ticked all the boxes.

The language was my biggest concern and fear. The key thing here was the judges and the audience understood it and even gave me positive feedback in the second round.

The plot was unique for everybody. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have voted for it.

And finally, my performance…

I think, the personality of the writer is crucial, because this (together with the plot) is the main “building material” of the novel and a huge part of the marketing plan.

The author, without any doubts, put into writing not only his or her life experience, imagination and skills, but also his or her character and individuality is reflected in it. Well, my writing definitely has got it all.

Novel Slam is a great opportunity for writers to check whether or not their plot will be potentially interesting for the readers and publishers/agents, and also to listen how their stories sound.

And they do sound completely different, when we read them to ourselves and when we read them aloud.

I was quite satisfied with “the sound” of my novel. So, it could be good material for the script in the future ;))))

Overall, if I have an opportunity to do it again, I won’t hesitate. I study on my own mistakes and gain the experience. As I have already mentioned in my blog before, this is not only a story, not only a novel…It’s an experiment, a performance, some kind of a linguistic show.

So, the show must go on!