Literary critic Luigi Bonomi is a competition judge for the Montegrappa Writing Prize. Courtesy Montegrappa
Literary critic Luigi Bonomi is a competition judge for the Montegrappa Writing Prize. Courtesy Montegrappa

Aspiring authors can submit entries for the Montegrappa Writing Prize until January 10

It’s getting down to the wire for the UAE’s highest-­profile ­amateur literary competition, the Montegrappa Writing Prize. Aspiring authors have until ­January 10 to submit their entries – consisting of the first 2,000 words (or the first chapter) of the manuscript and a 400-word synopsis – for chance to win the prize of individual ­writing sessions with renowned literary critic and competition judge Luigi Bonomi, and a trip to this year’s London Book Fair 2016 in April. If you are about to taking the writing plunge, Bonomi has some advice on how to get your manuscript ready for ­submission.

Get us hooked

“It’s true: a great book announces itself from the very first lines. After years in this industry, I still feel a tingle down my spine when I read something terrific. It’s a combination of tone, voice, fluidity of writing and atmosphere that grips me, makes me want to put everything aside and read that novel there and then, and contact the author without delay. It’s a truly wonderful feeling. As a writer, this is the impact you want to have on the jury.”

Prepare to be challenged

“The competition should intimidate you, just don’t let this scare you into giving up. Remember that what we’re looking for is honesty and originality – a voice apart. It’s not perfection, complicated narratives and time continuums, or multiple points of view, none of that. So, turn the terror into excitement and write your way in.”

Your main character

“On the practical side, make sure that your first 2,000 words introduce your main protagonist with all the character depth you can give him or her, and set the plot into motion. A common mistake with first-time writers is that they spend more effort and words on settings and descriptions, that don’t matter to the story as much.”

Be concise

“As for the synopsis, use the 400 words wisely. What you decide to include is as important as what you decide to leave out. Tell us about the story of the main character, the conflict he or she faces, the reason for this conflict, the point of climax and how the conflict gets resolved. But don’t present the synopsis like a step-by-step account of the plot. That won’t offer any depth, texture or meaning. Make sure you capture the feelings, emotions and transformations. Agents and publishers read a synopsis not because they want to know how the book ends, but because it can reveal problems in your novel, from plot flaws, to lack of structure or underdeveloped characters. Writing the synopsis could help you spot such shortcomings as well, and allow you to fix them.”

•The Montegrappa Writing Prize is open for submission to all UAE residents till January 10. For more information, visit­grappa-writing-prize

Cinco in numbers

Dh3.7 million

The estimated cost of Victoria Swarovski’s gem-encrusted Michael Cinco wedding gown


The number, in kilograms, that Swarovski’s wedding gown weighed.


The hours it took to create Cinco’s vermillion petal gown, as seen in his atelier [note, is the one he’s playing with in the corner of a room]


How many looks Cinco has created in a new collection to celebrate Ballet Philippines’ 50th birthday


The hours needed to create the butterfly gown worn by Aishwarya Rai to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

1.1 million

The number of followers that Michael Cinco’s Instagram account has garnered.


Director: Manuel Calvo
Stars: Yassir Al Saggaf and Fatima Al Banawi
Rating: 2/5


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5