The Novelry Blog
Where the writers are.
"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." John Steinbeck.
Many of my beloved writers at The Novelry suffer from a sickness called overachievement - 'the curse of the capable'.
It's a condition for which there seems to be no cure, and yet perhaps there is.
Both intelligent and intuitive, overachievers find their way to The Novelry because they have a feeling the cure is inside the story. And they're right.
As we all know, stories have many therapeutic benefits either en masse or taken one at a time. We explore the 'eucatastrophe', the deliverance from evil described by Tolkien in the Classic course at The Novelry, and look at the life problems and psychological ills were chronicled in fairy tales. A little bit of 'doctor heal thyself' is prescribed in our story starter course which asks you to dig deep into your experience and first loved stories to find the seed of the story you need to write.
This week's blog is courtesy of one of our member's, Kate Tregaskis.
Getting Lost. (A Member's Story.)
I’ve been writing my current novel for approximately three hundred years. Having written and finished one before, inexperience is not the problem. In fact, I have also finished this one, a few times. But it has bounced back from agents with the feedback that: there isn’t enough of a plot; more needs to happen; the book is ‘not enough of a ride.’
Trawling the internet earlier this year, I came across The Novelry and more specifically the editing course. It seemed just what I needed. For good measure, I signed up to the community too. Fast forward a few months and I was in full swing, getting up early to write, more focused than I’d been in ages and feeling like I was making steady progress. At last, I could see what I needed to do to corral my 70,000 or so words into something that resembled a story.
And then the shit hit the fan. My...
Here's how to create a story:
1. Know it
An experience or circumstances of which you have direct knowledge as a participant or an outsider looking in
2. See it
Translate it - to a different time or place or different gender main character - to create arms-length distance to get a more 'divine' perspective on the matter
3. Apply Pity
Feel for the flaw or failing of the hero taking this journey and appreciate their charisma (magic or personal charm which will prove an amulet to protect them and deliver them to a safe place to find themselves 'beloved' on this earth)
flaw + charisma
4. Own it
Take your most loved book of all time, consider why you love it. If it's a genre - a period of history, or speculative treatment sci-fi or fantasy - or a human psycho-drama or thriller - now's the time to own up to it. What is it about it? A mood? A place? A mode of discourse? A kind of human intimacy? A sense that anything is possible or that everything is impossible. Humour?...
Kiss your darlings!
Grab your tote bag, and fill it with books then head off in pursuit of your literary dreamboats to salute them and get the book signed. One of our members, who undertook one of our creative writing courses, gives us an account of her own adventures in stalking an author this week.
Here's a brief account of some of the festivals available to book-loving novelists.
The Bath Festival (May)
Hay Festival (Last week in May)
Winchester Writers' Festival (June)
Wealden Literary Festival (June)
Port Eliot Festival (End July)
Edinburgh International Book Festival (Third week in August)
Norwich - the Perfect Crime Writing Festival (September)
Bloody Scotland - Crime Writing Festival (September)
The Brooklyn Book Festival (September)
Cheltenham Literature Festival (October)
London Literature Festival (October)
It's hard to know for sure when you've reached the end of a novel, insofar as you can take it, by which I mean you're sending it to your agent.
You're battle weary. You can't see the wood for the trees. It's the forty-fifth draft.
The story makes sense. But your worry may now be that the story makes too much sense at the expense of mystery. So you'll want to go back to a few key moments to make them accurate and translucent - shimmering - to create more space for the reader.
I like to perform these last checks while reading Raymond Carver on loop during the last week or so before I hit send.
He was the master when it came to making space for the reader.
"I forget who passed along a copy of Babel’s Collected Stories to me, but I do remember coming across a line from one of his greatest stories. I copied it into the little notebook I carried around with me everywhere in those days. The narrator, speaking about Maupassant and the...
Get on the list!
Get the Sunday paper for writers to your inbox.