The Novelry Blog
Where the writers are.
Ruth Hogan will be our guest for a Live Session at The Novelry on 15th February.
Ruth Hogan is the bestselling author of the Sunday Times bestseller and Richard & Judy Readers' Award winner - The Keeper of Lost Things. She's the author of bestsellers - The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel and the forthcoming Madame Burova (due to be published April 2021)
From the Desk of Ruth Hogan.
For me, writing isn’t a choice – it’s an obsession. A compulsion. Getting published was better than winning the lottery (and the odds were not dissimilar!) and I count myself lucky every day that I get paid for doing what I love.
But even if no publishing deal had come along, I know that I would still be writing at every opportunity. I always describe myself as a ‘method’ writer. Whenever I start a new book, I surround myself in my writing space with pictures and things that relate to the plot and the characters. I create...
'Every writer I know has trouble writing.'
Almost 99% of writers exist in a state of some doubt that they're any good at this writing business. The other 1% aren't very good at it.
Only a fool thinks their writing is much good while they're mid-novel. Sure, you get flashes, moments, in which a line soars, an insight cuts, or a mysterious space opens up and you think - yup, that's why I do this. And even, damn that's good. But mostly one goes to the manuscript word document in a state best described as faintly appalled.
You're not alone. Confidence is quite properly an elusive quality for this craft. You'd be useless with too much of it. Confidence and doubt keep the work human and humane, and above all else tender. After all, the novel is the art form singularly concerned with the frailty of the creature that knows God but is no god, that has the appetite of an animal, but is not quite as reliable.
We seem to see our novel as the...
From the Desk of Kate Riordan.
Someone once said to me, ‘It’s a shame, isn’t it, that being a writer was your dream but you don’t really like it’. I turned to him, completely taken aback. ‘But I love writing!’ I said. He laughed. ‘You’ve got a funny way of showing it.’
He had a point. I know quite a few writers but I’d never come across one more resistant to the actual writing than me. ‘Just do a little bit every day!’ well-meaning people would say, to which my answer was a bitter laugh. Every day? I’d gone weeks without even opening my work-in-progress. Obviously, the guilt was crippling.
I wasn’t unique in this, of course. A cursory trawl on Twitter revealed plenty of writers discussing their displacement activity of choice: manic decluttering, doing their tax early, watching videos of dogs launching themselves into piles of leaves. Anything, anything, not to just crack on and write the...
From the Desk of Emylia Hall.
I’ve recently been dipping into The Gifts of Reading, a collection of essays and literary love letters from the likes of Robert Macfarlane, Candice Carty-Williams, and William Boyd, full of personal meditations on the power of gifting stories. For Robert Macfarlane, whose initial essay The Gifts of Reading inspired the project, the book he gives, again and again, is In a Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. The latter is a particularly resonant, if not bittersweet, title for these times, where we’re trying to focus our gratitude and count our blessings, and reach out to others in need; to do, simply, our best.
A recurring idea in The Gifts of Reading is that giving someone a book is a particularly intimate gesture; you profess to know their soul and are serving it accordingly – which perhaps makes it risky gifting territory for some; I’m sure we’ve all had those conversations where we can’t believe that a friend, so...
From the Dressing Room of a Dame.
(Philip Meeks is on enforced sabbatical from pantomime, writing his novel with The Novelry. Photo © Bob Workman.)
On the day I turned three, my life took such an irrevocably warped turn I never looked back...
I wish the opening sentence of my novel had come as easy.
I’d been a model child which is probably why I’ve been anything but as an adult. I was white-blonde haired with a deep brown-eyed searching stare. I’d have been a Midwich Cuckoo if I’d had the attention span. Elderly neighbours came to sit and stare at how I ate my meals precisely, foodstuff by foodstuff, without moaning or mess. My mother says there was silence as they tried to work out how they’d gone so wrong with their own mash-splattered sprogs. I learned to speak too soon, I was walking within months and I had the early shoots of lively curiosity and imagination clearly on display.
But I fell asleep when storytime...
Christmas comes to The Novelry in the form of completed novels, so many first drafts, awaiting their next draft in the new year. Congratulations to all of you for making sure you didn't rely on Santa for your best gift this Christmas! The year in fiction was a blessed relief versus the year in reality. We drew close at The Novelry as writers and enjoyed time together online, in our own good company and with well-known authors too.
We have learnt so much this year by pulling together. This was ever the vision enshrined in our logo - the octopus. One shared mind bulging and many tentacles writing!
With some three hundred novelists writing with us presently, we have our tentacles on many works of fiction. At The Novelry HQ, we keep our tabs on our writers novels as a team thank to a wonderful 'doctors system' updated in real-time by our writers' activities withing their online course, and at every one-to-one tutor session. We have instituted a Monday team meeting as...
We are delighted to welcome Kate Riordan to The Novelry as a tutor. She's a wonderful addition to the team and it's great to have her with us. She's off to a flying start, and available for sessions now. Find out more about Kate and her novels here. Her first historical novel published by Penguin was hailed as a must-read for fans of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. More recently, with her fourth novel, Kate has made a move into writing psychological suspense with the thriller published this summer - Heatwave.
Come and meet Kate 'in person' at our special session on Wednesday 9th December at 6pm. Members can book in at the booking page.
From the Desk of Kate Riordan.
My favourite film growing up was Back to the Future, which came out when I was seven. I went to see it with my dad at the Odeon in Muswell Hill and, during the walk home, euphoric from the film which had held me rapt for 116 minutes, I fired questions at Dad about the space-time continuum...
The Top Ten Writing Apps for Writers for 2021.
It just gets better and better! We enjoyed a live session with its founder recently - available for writers of The Novelry at our Catch Up TV. The app analyzes your writing and presents its findings in over 20 different reports (more than any other editing software). You can keep track of your writing style with a neat integration of ProWritingAid and Scrivener. ProWritingAid imports your Scrivener folder into its platform and gives you a detailed analysis of how you're writing. I use ProWritingAid for that final finesse. Here's their latest news: they have launched a new Word add-in for Mac users. It was their most requested development for years! Find out more about the Mac add-on here.
Now, what else? Their sexy new summary format! That's what, and it's why ProWritingAid tops our list of apps for writers this year! Congrats to the ProWritingAid team.
From the Desk of Jessie Burton.
I’m writing this piece less than two days after finishing my sixth book. It isn’t due for another fortnight, but I’ve been thinking about and writing this one since May 2016, and it happens like this sometimes. There you are, thinking you will never see the light at the end of the tunnel, let alone walk through it into bright sunshine. And then you take yourself by surprise. The day is a normal one, you press the last full-stop, and it is done.
A few days before that, however, when I could see I was nearing the end, I felt extremely anxious. I was overwhelmed that I had come this far – having discarded over 96,000 words to get here, changing it many times, sitting in the dark with it for so long. I was swamped by the anticipation of the final push, by the awareness that the book was going to morph from a private into a public thing, and the fact that I would have to say goodbye to it once it was. I couldn’t...
First drafts are precious. They are tender, private, and for your eyes only. A first draft is a chance to tell yourself the story; to figure out the hopes and dreams of your characters (and, crucially, their flaws); to discover the world on the page. You might not have it all at the beginning, but you’ll certainly be one step closer by the end. A first draft needs to be coaxed, which is why we suggest you keep it to yourself – and why, when you work with your author tutor, we won't ask to see your prose too early in the process and suggest holding back on feedback until later.
Other writing courses may differ – I know this because I’d taken a few over the years. I have sat in classrooms workshopping 5,000 words of my classmates’ first drafts each week, during which I barely wrote a word of my own novel. I have read my early work aloud in the upstairs room of pubs across London and posted my burgeoning prose on blogs....
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