The Novelry Blog

Where the writers are.

 
Story Ideas. May 16, 2021

From the Desk of Harriet Tyce. 

Whenever I do an event, I wonder if this will be the time I’m asked how I get my ideas. It hasn’t happened yet – maybe it’s perfectly obvious how I get my ideas. I was a criminal barrister, I’ve written two books with criminal barristers at their heart. But I’ve still had to come up with different stories for them, different settings. And even if I know one part of the world, the rest is still a mystery.

Every time I’m confronted with the blank page at the start of a new project, I panic, not sure where I’m going to find inspiration. Every time I approach the end of a draft, I panic again, wondering if I’ll ever be able to think of a new idea.

The thing is, I always do. Inspiration’s to be found everywhere. The books I read, the television shows I watch, the conversations I overhear. The true crime stories I read in the Daily Mail online (they give a lot of detail which isn’t...

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Writing a First Draft. May 09, 2021

 

From the Desk of Emylia Hall.

This is not my first draft rodeo... (not that you’d know it).

‘The first draft of anything is shit,’ said Ernest Hemingway. I’ve always liked this line because it’s a great equalizer: we’re all capable of writing terrible first drafts. And it’s freeing too: it’s about getting the words down, generating material, discovering the story … no pressure to be anything more than that.

Nevertheless, whenever I turn in a first draft, I still always think … but what if, this time, it’s not? What if it is, in fact, nearly there? Just needing a nip, a tuck … and we’re good to go? And although all my experience tells me this will not be the case – that this is almost never ever the case for anyone – I find myself absurdly hoping anyway. Because, typically, I’ve finished that draft on a real high, a crescendo of energy and inspiration – and every ounce of...

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How to Write a Bestseller and Make Tons of Money. May 02, 2021

How to write a bestselling book and make tons of money by Meg Rosoff, who once wrote a book that sold a couple of million copies and made her tons of money, but has been unable to repeat that trick since, damn it. 

  1. Always start your blogs with a list. Everyone loves a list.
  2. Know your craft. If you can’t write to save your life, it’s just plain logical to choose another career. Unless you’re Dan Brown, Jeffrey Archer, E.L. James or any of the other richer than Croesus so-called writers whose ability to put together a coherent sentence is dubious at best. AT BEST.
  3. Any book that takes ten years to write is probably a disaster. Personally, I tend to believe this and suggest to people that if they’ve been suffering over a book for way too long that they ditch it and start again. JRR Tolkien would disagree (Lord of the Rings, 17 years). As would JD Salinger, Donna Tartt, Margaret Mitchell and Ezra Pound, who reputedly spent fifty-seven years writing The...
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Writing Historical Fiction. Apr 25, 2021
 
'The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.'
L.P. Hartley


From the Desk of our Tutor Kate Riordan. 

I always think it’s strange when people say ‘Oh, I don’t read historical fiction’ with a look of mild distaste.

That look generally means one of two things: that a story set in the past will be irrelevant and impossible to relate to, or that reading it will feel less like entertainment and more like school.

But how can history be irrelevant when it’s made us what and who we are today? To dismiss historical fiction is to dismiss the human experience. As for the entertainment factor, think of Bridgerton, adapted for Netflix from the books by Julia Quinn. 82 million households streamed the series in its first month. Sexy and frothy and fun, it’s about as far from dry and dusty as you can get. It wasn’t just the bodice-ripping people seemed to enjoy either. Its evocation of a society that put a...

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Managing Evil in Fiction Apr 18, 2021

From the Desk of Polly Ho-Yen.

How do we ‘manage’ evil in the stories we are telling?

Writing for children means I often write with children. When I’m running writing workshops in schools, I have the pleasure of hearing the hugely inventive story ideas stewing in children’s heads, first hand. They’ll tell me their premise – a group of chickens take over the world, a scientist creates a formula that turns people into robots, a banana goes on a rampage - and I’ll ask why? Why do the chickens take over, why does the professor do this, why does a banana decide one day, enough is enough...? The typical response I’ll get, with an 'isn’t it obvious' shrug, is: ‘Because they’re evil.’

We feed children tales of good versus evil from an early age, through fairy tales and superhero stories. ‘The Baddie’ has become shorthand for evil, and children are incredibly familiar with the concept and more than...

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