The Novelry Blog
Where the writers are.
The immersive programme of events for this writing season at The Novelry includes live sessions with former Publishing Editor of Penguin's Doubleday imprint Marianne Velmans and guest tutors, bestselling authors, Louise Doughty, Harriet Tyce, Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Jessie Burton.
When you join us, you'll have 7 relaxed and inspiring days of lessons in the Ninety Day Novel course to consider and hone your idea, before your first tutor session.
At that first session, we sign off on together on the best idea to achieve your goal, and you start writing. You could be holding your novel manuscript in your hands on the 1st December. Sign up now and experience the joy of completing the first draft of your novel this year.
This autumn the focus is very much on PLOT. Our guest tutors have been chosen for their crafty expertise and plot wiles.
Dual Timelines (2/2)
In the very beginning, when I experienced the first gleam of an idea during a nap in my parents’ attic, my debut novel Hold Back the Stars was to have only one timeline. A couple were falling through space with only ninety minutes of air remaining, I imagined, and as they fell, they talked about their relationship and how they came to be in the great vacuum of space. I queried myself – could they be treading water, surrounded by sharks, would that be easier to write? I lived on a hill in north London surrounded by sky, obsessively tracking the International Space Station each night as it passed overhead. No, I decided, it had to be space. But the idea felt quite thin; perhaps a (long) short story or a novella. It was only when I came up with the second timeline – that same couple’s entire relationship, shown chronologically as it happened on the Earth beneath them – that I knew I had enough for a novel.
Many dual timeline...
I've worked with dual perspectives before. In my historical novel, This Human Season, I told the story set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland chapter by chapter, alternating between a former English soldier prison guard, and a Catholic mother of one of the prisoners. I wanted to show how the two sides had much in common by running them alongside each other to tell the story of the events leading up to the Hunger Strike. The story came first, and I told it blow by blow, with the timeline in 'real-time' for both parties, day by day. The structure of your novel can serve its theme, it should serve its theme, and it can almost perform the theme.
This time, I'm writing a novel with dual timelines. I didn't mean to, I confess. I had a story drafted out in contemporary 'real-time', told in chronological order, but a character emerged, the grandfather of my hero, and I wanted to show the way our family history weighs on us...
We were lucky to have a live session with suspense writer Kate Hamer at The Novelry recently. Kate spoke about the importance of creating a potent atmosphere, particularly in the opening chapters where we’re really focusing on drawing the reader in. She told us that a childhood favourite of hers was Treasure Island, and how she remembered the arrival of Blind Pew being so affecting.
‘So things passed until, the day after the funeral, and about three o'clock of a bitter, foggy, frosty afternoon, I was standing at the door for a moment, full of sad thoughts about my father, when I saw someone drawing slowly near along the road. He was plainly blind, for he tapped before him with a stick and wore a great green shade over his eyes and nose; and he was hunched, as if with age or weakness, and wore a huge old tattered sea-cloak with a hood that made him appear positively deformed.’
When Jim Hawkins goes on to recall ‘I never saw in my life a more...
Two of our writers describe their recent adventures in fiction with The Novelry. With thanks to Justine Gilbert and Sir Dexter Hutt.
From the Desk of Justine Gilbert.
The art of reversing everything you were taught in school about writing.
I was a teacher for 25 years. For the majority of my career, I was 'Head of English'. I knew my job, and the children in my care did well in exams. I taught KS2 English, GCSE English and I tutored A level English. I was also a dyslexia specialist. If you brought me a child that was underperforming, I could diagnose what was needed to help them improve.
I wrote short stories, poems, and children’s plays, some of which were performed. I read avidly - particularly children’s fiction and I advised pupils on suitable books to read. My writing lessons followed the National Curriculum. I taught many genres of writing: letters, journalism, speech writing, essay writing. My story writing...
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