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In the arts there is this belief that the best years of your work come as you grow older and in a sense, this is right. It is only through experience and living that one begins to fully understand both the world and one’s place in it; to see the complexity of the choices and the domino effect they have like butterfly wings half way across the world that creates a storm on the other side of the ocean. But when people said this, the benchmarks of adulthood happened in a set order, at a set time and usually at a set age. Now in the 21st Century, those boundaries are crumbling and the benchmarks eroding. Experience is still prevalent but the ways in which we live and how we choose to define both maturity and age is a moveable feast.

As a young writer now, who is to say that your experience of the world is less worthy than someone ten or twenty years older than you? There are people at 25 who are juggling the travails of modern life, that people at forty have never had to face. What is important is the authenticity of your voice and the curiosity of your nature. For writers to be interesting, they have to be interested and in order for that to happen, they need to engage.

This is truly a generation that cannot be described as lacklustre, for all the millennial bashing of the papers. But this is a generation that is more rigorous on demanding a way of life that is relevant to them and their way of being; more so now since this is the first generation for whom the aspirations and climate that their parents grew up with, no longer subscribes to them.

Therefore, as writers, this is a generation with a unique and unprecedented view of the world. Young writers everywhere are exploring the world through a new lens – the first to grow up with social media; the first to experience life changing referendums; to see seismic shifts in cultural acceptance and new lows in social disparity. They are seeing change after change amongst a rapidly advancing age and are in a unique position to document all of this, as the generation who never knew different and so are better able to withstand it.

People always ask for top tips for young authors as if they need a different set of guidance to their elders, but the truth is more than ever, those tips are growing out of date as the disparity between their experience and their predecessors grows. My tip – don’t try to be anyone else. Don’t try to emulate or imitate; you are the first of your kind, in a world that is changing as fast as it grows. Every year throws the rules up in the air with a picnic blanket and you are the first to really know the ramifications of where it lands. Write as you find, because your voice is original in its perspective. This is the time when youth and experience are no longer mutually exclusive. It’s time to write your own rules.

Nelle Andrew

Nelle Andrew is an agent at PFD predominantly looking for exciting, original debut fiction. She has been at PFD since 2009 and before then Pan Macmillan and is a published novelist herself. Before then she studied at the University of Warwick and then Trinity College, Dublin.

Her list spans Sunday Times bestsellers in non-fiction and acclaimed debut novels. She represents a variety of authors across many genres but what they all have in common is an original story and a strong narrative voice.

This year she is especially looking for well written, crime/thriller and psychological suspense – books which have strong characters and page turning premises, as well as literary commercial fiction.

Above all she is drawn to unique storytelling and compelling prose regardless of the genre the novel is written for, and an author whose writing she can champion in what she hopes will be a long and productive career.

Young Writer Award @YoungWriterYear

Follow us on twitter. The Young Writer of the Year Award is a prize of £10,000 for a writer under 35.

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