The Rules To Writing Novels.

Oct 14, 2018


'There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.'

Somerset Maugham.

There are no rules, only tools.

You will find tools at The Novelry. Use them, try them, pick them up, put them down. Do not consider them rules. I can't abide rules, and I guess you can't or you probably wouldn't be writing.

There is no formula. Did you know that some writers' books can stay unborn, in their amniotic sac of rules and regulations, attached to the umbilical spreadsheet for years? It's an awful condition and one we can't abide at The Novelry where we get novels done.

'I don’t think there are any universal rules. I really don’t. We each make our own rules, and we stick to our rules and we abide by them, but you know rules are made to be broken. … [If] any rule you hear from one writer doesn’t work for you, disregard it completely. Break it. Do what you want to do. I have my own rules that I follow, but they’re not necessarily going to work for other writers. … The only universal rule is to write. Get it done, and do what works for you. There’s nothing sadder than someone sitting there and trying to apply a lot of rules that are not turning that person on and are not stimulating and are not making a novel.' Ann Rice.

'Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.' Neil Gaiman.

'If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.' Elmore Leonard.

We don't preach from the textbook at The Novelry, and there's no mystery to the method. All we're doing here is establishing a habit of writing daily, a habit of reading at bedtime. We throw inspiration at you in an orderly fashion, showing you some of the methods great writers have used and say - knock yourself out! Take what works for you.

But you are the author. You gotta write it. To come back and back to the white page there's got to be something in it that you personally find moving or funny as hell. It's contrary characters in tight spots that makes me love what I do.

No rules. 

If you're using 'rules' please stop immediately and replace all that time checking charts with reading.

Personally, I like to start with one shit idea. Then I start to snowball it, adding often unrelated elements to it. Next, my characters start doing things they shouldn't do. And I read and read and read all the time I'm creating and editing.

If you're serious about getting your novel done, and you're a writer who won't play by the rules, The Novelry offers ideas and options for you to choose from - tools for your toolbox used by the great craftsmen  - until you're double-done. And we always will. 

Editing Your Novel

Today sees the launch of a new course at The Novelry. Constructing this more rigorous course to put a novelist's manuscript through its paces has been wildly refreshing. It's reminded me of how I felt about writing when I started out in my twenties. This is my favourite course because it's so clean! Lucidity is the watchword.

I like writing, but I love editing. It's a great feeling to curate your material and this course is full of sound sense and will take you through the edit in 30 lessons so you can crack your next draft in a month with the joy borne of assurance. You'll know it's right. The course will take you all the way to submission. Find out more here.

Members News.

Congratulations to Tracey Emerson! This week sees the publication of our member Tracey Emersons book. 'She Chose Me.'

'A psychological thriller whose high energy and fast-pace will have you racing towards the climactic conclusion. Perfect for fans of The Girl Before.'

Tracey is writing her second novel with The Novelry.

'Writing my second novel with The Novelry has been a liberating and revelatory experience, which I'd recommend to writers at any stage of their career.'

Tracey Emerson

You can see our writers' published novels here.


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The Novelry.