The Novel Writing Blog.

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You will find advice here to help you on your writing journey. Use the search bar to find some of the insights and shortcuts we use to fast track our writers. 

Novel Writing Tips The Hero Three Wise Drafts Perspective Don't Try So Hard! How To Begin One Hour A Day Admit Your Ambition

How To Write A Children's Book and Get It Published.

Dec 08, 2019

A Member's Story.

SLAYING DRAGONS or how The Novelry saved a writing life.

"Kill the dragon," said Louise.

     I was enmeshed in one of my all-too-frequent cycles of Writer’s Doooooom. My antagonist – a shapeshifter – had four alter egos: an evil taxi driver, a threatening bird, a magical girl and a dragon.

     And my novel wasn’t working.

     Rewind a year. A previous novel – contemporary women’s fiction – had been published six years earlier by a small press, and I’d struggled to write another. Writing against a backdrop of some extremely challenging life events hadn’t helped. 30,000 words were abandoned. 48,000 words: ditto.

I came across The Novelry when Louise offered one of her courses for auction for the Grenfell Tower fund, something made me follow this one up.

     I told Louise Dean the sorry tale of how my writing demons had got the...

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The Best Writers Software and Writing Apps for 2020

Dec 01, 2019
 

 

Get Tooled Up for 2020, Writers.

The list of presents that every good writer boy and girl deserves to gift themselves this Christmas. Here's your round-up of the writing apps upon which writers really rely. They've been hand-picked to cheer you right up! I love these gadgets.

You'll find some old faithfuls and some new entries to our list - the tools I use when I'm writing and those most loved by our writers at The Novelry.

It's a better time to be a writer than ever before thanks to technology. (I know, I know, proper writers are supposed to be Luddites, but why? Make your life easier. Writing a novel's tough enough.)

#1. Scrivener

If you're tackling a big project like a novel, the organizational engine of Scrivener will ensure everything goes off to plan. Our members can enjoy a 20% discount on Scrivener at our Members' Library.

#2. ProWritingAid

The app analyzes your writing and presents its findings in over 20 different reports (more than any other...

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Artifice - How to Write a Damn Good Novel.

Nov 24, 2019

One of the sweetest old chestnuts beloved of writers is the notion that a story is driven by what a character wants. Quite so.

It's a convention, it's a construction and it's a fakery of the highest order, yet we must have it so.

In real life, people are not propelled by singular obsessions, they are in fact a mess of conflicting wants, warring desires and to-do lists. This does not make for a great story. The ruse of a story is that the heroine or hero has a one-track mind. Those of you enjoying the BBC TV series 'Gold Digger' may not have stopped to consider how likely it is that a professional man in his late thirties with a family is obsessed with his mother's new boyfriend being a tad on the young side? Sure, in real life, he'd raise an eyebrow then get back to his in-box. But then there would be no story.

An entertainment requires some stage machinery that's about as sophisticated as a canon that fires one canon ball. We entertainers pull a fast one on the...

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Orwell's Writing Style - Part Two.

Nov 17, 2019

The second of a two-part special blog on Orwell's own development as a writer to greatness. (Continued from last week's blog.)

I believe that novels happen in major leaps, via fits of destructiveness as much as creativity. What's more, an author's creative output is not a steady and static production line. Many writers find their voice, nail their theme, hit the sweet spot of storytelling art, inventiveness and lucidity in their later years.

So, how did Orwell make the leap from The Clergyman's Daughter to works like Animal Farm and 1984, from more conventional middle-of-the-road writing, small themes and safe prose to the stark, and bolder books of his last years? To 'prose like a windowpane'?

‘What I have most wanted to do… is to make political writing into an art’ George Orwell.

He wasn't quite there in 1939 after Coming Up For Air. So what happened to Orwell's writing in the years before Animal Farm written at the end of the war?

"If I had to make a...

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Orwell Writing Style - Part One

Nov 10, 2019

The first of a two-part special on Orwell's own development as a writer to greatness.

How did Orwell make the leap from The Clergyman's Daughter to works like Animal Farm and 1984, from more conventional middle-of-the-road writing, small themes and safe prose to the stark, and bolder books of his last years? To 'prose like a windowpane'?

Write the book only you can write, the book you're meant to write, I counsel writers in the Classic course, but how do you locate the book you can write freely and truly and honestly with cleanliness? Let me show you how Orwell, the author of that phrase, found his way.

Eric Arthur Blair was born 25 June 1903 (and died at just 47 21 January 1950 - which gives this ageing writer pause for thought.)

“I had the lonely child's habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a...

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The Winner of The First Line Fiesta

Nov 03, 2019
 

 

Viva La Fiesta!

We had 75 entries from our member writers to the First Line Fiesta, our competition to find the most appealing first line of a novel in progress. (You can read some of the most famous first lines of all time at our blog here.)

The standard was very high with high-scoring entries mostly from our writers either now with agents or on second drafts, taking The Big Edit, poised on the brink of bagging agents and publishing contracts. But we had one or two surprises from our first drafters!

Voting has been one member, one vote, and a first past the post system. Given the range of lines and the quality of the prose, I was surprised to see clustered results around a few front runners.

A contest like this is a bit of a beauty parade. The lines that stand out most boldly will secure votes. And the contestants don't have the opportunity to impress their judges with their plans for world peace as with our Firestarter Competition in February for the best first chapter.

...

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How Do I Know If My Fiction Writing is Good?

Oct 27, 2019

How do you tell if your writing is sweet, or whether it sucks?

 

We get word-blind. Over the course of a couple of drafts, the word blindness can get worse. You're clinging to your darlings, but the story's changed, and they're possibly no longer on point. (Our enforced reading break in between drafts, and the astringent Editing course are the citrus you need in your writing diet, but even so, it takes a lot of bad parenting to know how to treat your beloved manuscript roughly for its own good.)

WhenI read a writer's work, I evaluate it very simply. Here's how:

Cross Mark on Apple iOS 13.1 1. There is nothing wrong with it. It looks clean and good. There are no typos, and the grammar is right. (Don't ever hit send to anyone before using Grammarly.) It's not backstory-heavy. It's not blighted with how he or she 'feels'. ( Ideally none of these 'she-feels a trembling-anticipation-in-the-pit-of-her-stomach wretched things are in it at all. But if you must, because you're not good...

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Finding a Literary Agent. A Writer's Journey.

Oct 20, 2019

A Member's Story.

From the desk of Cate Guthleben.

The Bio.
 
I was born in Broken Hill - a mining town in outback New South Wales now most famous for being where Guy Pearce gets beaten up in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I went to primary school in Canberra and Perth before my family settled in Adelaide when I was 10. I got a typewriter for my 10th birthday because I wanted to be a writer, and I have been trying to write ever since. 
 
I studied Law and English Literature at Adelaide University. On graduating I was a Tutor in Constitutional Law for 2 years then practiced as a Commercial Litigation lawyer. I met my husband at Uni and his law career took us to Sydney, where I lectured at UTS Law School and our daughter was born. Then we moved to Hong Kong where I taught Plain English to Chinese executives and our son was born. After five years in HK, we moved to London where we still live. By now completely sick of reinventing myself I abandoned my...
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How To Start A Novel - The First Line.

Oct 10, 2019
 

How to Start Your Novel?

Some Ideas for Writing the First Line.

If the agent of change in the novel is a person and you’re telling the story as an outside observer.

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald.

“Elmer Gantry was drunk.” Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis.

“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.” On The Road, Jack Kerouac.

If the agent of change is the narrator.

“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by a Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.” Mark Twain.

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before...

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How To Write a Fantasy Novel - The Battle Scene.

Oct 06, 2019
 

To the Battle!

The battle in the classics of Tolkien and others is often a bit of a let down.

There’s a long walk, a lot of fine talk, plenty of awe then either the human hero finds an exit and postpones the battle or there’s a divine intervention which crushes evil a tad unfairly I think.

So, we have a complete rout, or evil sneaks off. There’s not much in the way or real prolonged suffering, no lingering in the mud of the trenches here. But hey ho. We’ve all been surprised by our first punch and children milk-fed on reading books are no doubt the most sucker-punched of all. But we all know there’s no alternative without completely compromising the experience of wonderment.

Tolkien approaches the battle in short sentences. You will know one’s coming because his word count between full stops drops dramatically. This seems to me to prove that discretion really is the better part of valour.

Bilbo almost stopped breathing, and went stiff...

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The Novelry.