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Welcome to The Novelry blog. Your first stop for all things to do with novel writing. Peruse the articles to troubleshoot your writing problems and get that novel done! Happy writing!
Mahsuda Snaith is one of the team of expert author coaches at The Novelry. She was named an 'Observer New Face of Fiction' for her debut novel The Things We Thought We Knew (published by Penguin's Black Swan imprint), and her second novel How to Find Home was chosen as a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime.
Write your book with an author like Mahsuda at your side – we'll be there to help you every step of the way!
From the desk of Mahsuda Snaith.
Writing can sometimes feel like a country park full of bracken.
Let me explain.
A few years back, I was walking with a friend through a local country park. We came to a spot where the ground was covered with bracken, with thin trails weaving through the overgrowth. As we walked through, my friend told me how she knew someone who had come to the same park and lost sight of her dog in amongst the thickets. Her dog just so happened to be called Bracken. There...
Rachel Joyce is the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of six books, including The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and Miss Benson’s Beetle.
We're delighted to have an exclusive live event with Rachel on 20th December. Become a member of The Novelry for access to talks with bestselling authors, online classes with industry professionals – and so much more.
From the desk of Rachel Joyce.
If you are reading this, you are a writer. I say that not because I am flattering you but because you clearly care deeply enough to want to find a way of finishing what you are working on. So I am going to be really frank with you – one writer to another.
My feelings about our craft change all the time but there is one thing I know for certain: it is necessary. Even when I was a child, I wanted to write – and not just for myself, I wanted to write stories that other...
Kendare Blake is the New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns fantasy series, which includes Three Dark Crowns, One Dark Throne and Two Dark Reigns. She is also the author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Girl of Nightmares and Antigoddess. Her latest YA novel, All These Bodies, is out now.
We have a dedicated fantasy and YA team at The Novelry, and we're thrilled to be welcoming Kendare as a guest speaker on 13th December.
From the desk of Kendare Blake.
I love writing. Hopefully that will come as no surprise. Though we, as writers, still struggle with our manuscripts – wrangling characters, secondary plot points, theme and, sometimes, even one, damned pernickety word – at the end of the day, and at the end of the struggle, we are writers, and we love writing.
It is what we do, and perhaps in that deep, complicated way of art, it is also who we are
Of course even as I typed that last...
Piers Torday is a renowned children's fiction writer who won The Guardian's Children Fiction Prize in 2014.
A former theatre and television producer, Piers Torday’s books include The Last Wild (Shortlisted for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize), The Dark Wild (Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winner), The Wild Beyond, There May Be a Castle (People’s Book Award finalist) and The Lost Magician (Teach Primary Book Award) and The Frozen Sea. His latest book is The Wild Before (August 2021). His work has been translated into 14 languages.
We have a thriving children's fiction department at The Novelry, and we're especially excited to be welcoming Piers to The Novelry as a guest tutor soon. To whet your appetite for a wonderful session, Piers gives us his top tips on writing for children.
From the desk of Piers Torday.
Begin at the beginning
Don’t go into the woods without a map
Stay on that path, Little Red!
Follow the characters
Evie Wyld is an award-winning writer of three novels and a graphic novel. She was born in London and brought up on both her grandparents' sugar cane farm in New South Wales, Australia, as well as in Peckham, south London, where she now runs an independent bookshop.
Her work is often experimental with her debut novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice (winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Betty Trask Award) alternating between two narratives, while her second novel, All the Birds Singing (winner of the Miles Franklin Award amongst others) is a story told in reverse. Her most recent novel, The Bass Rock, explores the lives of three women living in different centuries and the ways male violence impacts their lives.
Before her live session with The Novelry we took the opportunity to ask Evie about her journey to becoming a writer as well as her top writing tips.
How did you start writing?
I started writing as a distraction from very boring jobs – it was...
From the desk of Rashmi Sirdesphande. A published author of children's fiction and graduate of The Novelry's courses, Rashmi is published by Puffin Books (Penguin Random House).
Do you make it a habit to sometimes pause and reflect on how far you’ve come? I love the idea but I don’t do it enough. I’ll add it to my list of writerly sins along with deleting old drafts, impulsively hitting ‘send’, and being useless at celebrating milestones.
But when I do stop and look back at this writing journey, it really does take my breath away. I’ve been published for just over 2 years and I have 6 children’s books out already. I’ve worked with some fantastic illustrators and 5 of our books have been up for awards (my debut picture book with Diane Ewen managed to scoop up a win too), two were Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller, one (Dosh/Cash) was a Times/Sunday Times Best Children’s Book of 2020, and one (Good News)...
By Lizzy Goudsmit Kay: Editorial Director and published author of Seven Lies.
There is something inevitably chaotic about the first draft of a new novel. Who are these characters? Where are they going? You can experiment with tenses and voices. You can shift the sex, age or outlook of your characters between one page and the next. You can switch countries or seasons, if you so choose, following your instincts and trusting the story. There are no poor decisions. There are no set-in-stone answers. There is only the blank page before you and the words that feel right in that moment.
It doesn’t matter if you identify as a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’; you can be sure of very little in the first draft. Even if you are the type of writer who crafts a detailed plan before committing to a single sentence, you might still discover that a character has a mind of his or her own and walks off in an unexpected direction. There was no way to know that beforehand;...
From the Desk of Katie Fforde
Right at the beginning of my writing career, when I was trying to write novels for Mills and Boon (easy to read, incredibly hard to write) someone suggested it was easier to get historicals published. There was a shortage.
I quickly worked out a plot (hugely derivative – basically the girl dresses up as a boy to follow her love to sea) and went on to read a lot of novels by Patrick O’Brian as my research (I really enjoyed them!). All I had to do was start.
I did start, but I was only halfway down the first page when I realised I didn’t know what they wrote with on ships during the Napoleonic wars and my plot hung on me knowing this. I could probably have found out but it would have taken me weeks (which makes me think that Patrick O’B, a stickler for research and expert in the most obscure and finicky bits of rigging, possibly didn’t know, otherwise, why hadn’t it ever come up in any of his many...
If you're writing speculative fiction, ensure your first reader is an experienced SFF editor to master your magic and future proof your science fiction.
'How do they feed all their dragons? How come that entire magical race that has existed for hundreds of thousands of years only has a single language and a monoculture? If they’re travelling faster than the speed of light how do they see where they’re going? How come everyone refers to The City as The City? Is there only one? Why?' Craig Leyenaar
Craig Leyenaar joins The Novelry from Titan Books, the famous publisher of science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and speculative fiction including graphic and comic novels. He joins us as an editor – and with his amazing SFF (science fiction and fantasy) expertise – as a tutor too. He's ready to turn your writing dreams into – well – something bigger and better than reality. Over to Craig.
From the Desk...
From the Desk of Katherine Rundell
(Our guest for Monday's Live Author Session. See our forthcoming events for October here.)
Children’s fiction has a long and noble history of being dismissed. Martin Amis once said in an interview: ‘People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children's book. I say, “If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book”.’
There is a particular smile that some people give when I tell them what I do – roughly the same smile I’d expect had I told them I spend my time knitting outfits for the elves out of cat hair. Particularly in the UK, even when we praise, we praise with faint damns: a quotation from the Guardian on the back of Alan Garner’s memoir Where Shall We Run To read: ‘He has never been just a children’s writer: he’s far richer, odder and deeper than that.’ So that’s what children’s fiction is not: not rich or odd or deep.
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