The Novelry Blog

Where the writers are.

Paula Hawkins - On Writing the Unputdownable Book. Nov 01, 2020


From the Desk of Paula Hawkins.

I didn’t set out to write an unputdownable book, but when The Girl on the Train was published, I was told very clearly that I had, and that numerous train stops had been missed as readers were compelled to keep turning the pages.

Unputdownable hadn’t been an aim: I had wanted to write a crime novel about a young woman with a drink problem who suffers from blackouts, because I was interested in how her memory of acting a certain way related to her sense of guilt and responsibility for her actions.

You might want to write a book about the plight of women accused of witchcraft in the late sixteenth century, or about a southern African immigrant’s experience of life in London; your aim might be to write a book that makes people laugh, or reconsider their life choices, or a book that makes them too frightened to turn off the light at night.

Unputdownability is rarely a goal in and of itself. Not everyone believes unputdownability...

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Writing Rebecca. Oct 25, 2020


Page-turners don't happen by accident, they're constructed. 

A handful of writers have a gift to be able draw upon story structure intuitively. (Very few.) Some writers happen upon a number of the elements of a page-turning story by accident in their first novel, almost unwittingly it seems. But it's likely they've been turning the first story around in their heads for many years.

Most writers work using multiple revisions to structure and re-structure to include make their story gripping for readers, after the first draft. We had a session at The Novelry on narrative structure with Louise Doughty recently (available in our Catch Up TV area for members). As she showed, the virtuous shape of a novel emerges in the later drafts. (We work with writers to fast-track the process, and we have a few short cuts up our sleeve to raise the work between drafts with some heavy lifting between writer and tutor.) 

Writing and Re-writing...

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Rebecca - the Wrong Woman. Oct 18, 2020


One of our 'Hero Books' for novelists writing their novels with The Novelry is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and many of us are looking forward to the new movie adaption which airs on Netflix on October 21st. 

If you don't know the story, here's the premise:

Working as a lady's companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers. Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with 'the other woman'.

Described by Sarah Waters as one of the most influential novels of all time, the famous opening line of Rebecca (1939)...

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Meet The Agent - Marina de Pass Oct 11, 2020

We are delighted to announce the addition of The Soho Agency to our roster of literary agencies to whom we pitch our authors' finished novels. (Read more about The Soho Agency and see our full list here.)

From the Desk of Marina de Pass, Literary Agent.

My Career in Books...

I remember vividly the two experiences I had with career advisors in my life – one just before I left school, the other at university. Both involved a lot of leaflets, an advisor who had no idea who I was as a person, but who was sure that I should trust the dreaded aptitude test that would absolutely tell me what I should do with my life. Both times the test revealed I was most suited to a career as one of the following: lawyer, accountant or investment manager. Three very respectable and accomplished careers – and yet I was horrified. I worked for a couple of weeks doing research for an investment management firm – the people were lovely, the work actually quite interesting for an...

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Ruth Ware - Writing Fiction in Lockdown. Oct 04, 2020

With our thanks to Ruth who will be joining us for a Guest Author Session this month.

Ruth Ware is the author of The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Turn of the Key. Her new novel, One by One, is out this autumn from Harvill Secker.

From the Desk of Ruth Ware.

It's a lock-in.

I've always loved locked room mysteries. I love reading them – I find a really clever puzzle with finite possible solutions is somehow that bit more satisfying to solve than a novel where anyone could have wandered in off the street and stabbed their victim.

I also love writing them, as the fact that I keep returning to the locked room structure attests. There's something about setting yourself a challenge – a small cast of characters, a confined setting, a strictly limited set of options in terms of suspects, victims and murder weapons – and trying to be as creative as possible within those parameters that really sets my imagination sparking.

And in fact the first grown-up crime story I can ever...

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