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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!
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.
If you're wondering how to write a prologue for your book, then whether you publish your book with one or not, the one-page attention-grabber is a great way to test your story's success and prepare your plan to rewrite it for a new fresh, bold draft, as the key ingredients will be laid out for readers from the first page.
This post will break up the steps of writing a prologue into five easy steps. Those steps are as follows:
How to Write a Prologue:
- What is the question you're asking your readers?
- What's at stake?
- Who are we?
- Where are we?
- An ominous or dramatic change
What is the purpose of a prologue?
Prologues are only ever looked down upon where they're throat clearing, or a preamble that does not serve to engage the reader in the story. A good writer never wastes a reader's time. Consider the fact that with the Look Inside feature on Amazon, or whether your reader is passing by the books on a table in a bookshop, they and...
From the Desk of Tasha Suri
When I was still very small, every weekend I would grab my bike and meet my friend, and head to the local park. At that age, the park seemed humongous to me: vast, endless fields of green with steep hills that we’d ride up then race down, cycling faster and faster so that we’d hurtle forward at lightspeed. And at the far end of the park, beyond a wall of lacy, drooping willows, stood an emerald bridge. The bridge led, we both agreed, to a road that went to another world. I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz then, and though the path wasn’t a yellow brick road, I was pretty sure I knew a magical road when I saw one.
I remember walking along that path once, holding my breath as I did it, the wheels of my bike clicking. I remember the serious, almost ritualistic way we had crossed the bridge, and the hush of the tree-lined path around us. It felt exactly how entering another world should have felt, strange and new and wondrous....
From the Desk of our Author Tutor Jack Jordan.
I can still vividly remember the day a single book changed my life.
I was shut away in the family living room, aged twelve, ripping through the pages of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses with such vigour that I’m surprised I didn’t tear them from the binding. I should have seen the impending tragedy coming, what with it being a modern take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but every book I had read before had tied up the endings so neatly and conveniently that I expected the story to swivel at the last minute, and end in the only way I knew: tied up in a perfect bow, with the villain getting their just deserts, and the protagonist getting their Happy Ever After. But the ending Blackman delivered changed my view of storytelling forever. I stared, slack-jawed, as I re-read the last page, with my heart racing and my young mind reeling with emotions and questions. Blackman doesn’t tie up the end of ...
From the desk of Tash Barsby.
I’m a month into my new role at The Novelry, and what a whirlwind it has been. I’ve been lucky enough to talk with some fantastic writers and read some incredibly promising work, which is what I have always loved the most about my job – that close relationship between author and editor is truly such a special one, and having the chance to help shape ideas and drafts when they are so fresh is unbelievably exciting. But something I’m also really keen to bring to the writers at The Novelry is the opportunity to demystify the publishing process – particularly the parts that may be less obvious or that wouldn’t even have crossed your mind to consider (because they certainly hadn’t to me until I started working in the industry!)
So, in this, my first blog for The Novelry, I'm going to tackle the harder questions which often concern writers the most – what's fair in fiction?
There’s a disclaimer on the...
From the Desk of Phoebe Morgan.
As I write this, I’m surrounded by boxes of books. I have FAR too many books – they are not easy to move, they are cumbersome to carry, they split the cardboard at the seams and they conjure up a wince on the face of my partner as he carries them diligently into our new house. But they are the most precious thing to me in the world, and as I sit and write, I can almost feel them scattered around me, alive and kicking, nestling into their new home.
Where would we be without stories? I have often asked myself this, and perhaps never more so than in times of distress. Visiting my grandmother in hospital this week, I brought her a notepad and pen so that she could attempt to make sense of the changing ward around her. Her eyesight is no longer very good so the writing was hard to make out, but that didn’t matter – what mattered was that she was able to escape into her imagination, as so many of us have done during this long,...
From the Desk of Lily Lindon, Editor at The Novelry.
When I tell someone I’m a book editor, I can sometimes see their imagination bubble pop up: me, sitting alone in a dusty reading nook, wearing thick spectacles and a black polo neck, using angry, blood-red ink to scratch out split infinitives and misplaced semicolons.
Unfortunately, this is not quite true – not least because I don’t wear glasses.
Writers (understandably) spend a lot of time worrying about whether an editor will publish their book – but they don’t always know what that will entail at the other end. Like many creative industries, publishing can be impenetrable and opaque from the outside (and often from the inside, to be honest). I hope that giving you more information about what editors do will enlighten and empower you in the process of getting your book published – as well as humanise us editors a bit!
So what does an editor do?
One of the most common things for editors...
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